FA BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY APRIL 16TH, 2005
LIVERPOOL 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee: - Mark Halsey
Attendance: - 44, 029
Liverpool (3-4-2-1):- Dudek; Carragher, Hyypia, Pellegrino; Finnan, Alonso (sub Biscan, 84), Gerrard, Warnock (sub Riise, 34); Nunez (sub Cisse, 77), Garcia; Morientes
Subs not used: - Carson; Traore
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Kelly, King (Capt.), Dawson, Edman; Davies, Davis, Carrick, Reid (sub Ziegler, 71); Kanoute, Keane (sub Defoe, 87)
Subs not used: - Cerny; Bunjevcevic; Marney
It was a special day at Anfield today. The sun shone, and the two teams played out an entertaining end to end game of football in good spirit, with no need for the referee to show a card to anyone. Within two days of Spurs fans’ celebrations of Saint Gazza’s Day (14th April 1991 for away readers), Erik Edman scored a fantastic 35 yard goal worthy of remembering alongside that Gascoigne goal, to give Spurs an early lead. Another anniversary was remembered in perfect silence around the ground, as Liverpool remembered the 96 fans they lost tragically 16 years ago at Hillsborough.
What a day for Michael Dawson to make his debut in Spurs’ colours! Dawson has not even had the chance of a run-out in the Reserves, but he made a great start to his Spurs career, against high-class opposition. After all, this Liverpool side carries a pedigree of Champions League semi-finalists now. Dawson was not at all put off by the occasion, demonstrating plenty of confidence, and good passing skills too.
Liverpool have had to bear a number of forced absences this season, and Xabi Alonso only returned to action on Wednesday night after his injury against Chelsea on New Year’s Day. Alonso was superb today, and simply ran the show in midfield. His performance was a template for Carrick to try and emulate, as he sprayed the ball left and right for his colleagues, whilst Carrick and Sean Davis were dominated after the first half hour.
Spurs had controlled the game for that first period, with the bonus of that Edman goal, which they looked like holding until Alonso, Gerrard & Co. came into the frame. Benitez played three across the back, with Finnan and Warnock in the middle either side of Alonso and Gerrard, and Nunez and Garcia supporting Morientes. It was a quality Liverpool team, and Spurs matched them despite bearing a number of absences themselves such as Naybet, Gardner, Atouba, Brown and Pamarot.
Dawson was given a confidence-giving kick almost from the kick off, and Ledley King led an early attack, with a pass to Robbie Keane’s head, touched on to Kanoute, whose touch sadly deserted him, as it did so often today. Edman’s goal came somewhat out of the blue, following a corner on the right, which was cleared out to Edman fully 35 yards out. Erik did not hesitate, but took a stride and whacked the ball sweetly with his left foot. Dudek did not move as the ball hit the net in his top left corner. What a goal!
Whilst Carrick sat at the back of midfield, it was Sean Davis taking on the more creative duties at times. Davis hit a good pass to Kanoute on the left. This move ended with a Keane effort blocked. Good play from Reid and Kanoute on the left led to a ball to Carrick, who spotted Sean Davis getting forward, but Dudek got out first. Warnock was replaced after only 34 minutes by Riise, and after this point, Liverpool came into the game much more. Nunez squeezed a shot between King and Edman, but it went miles wide. The Liverpool pressure paid off in the 44th minute, when Garcia was given too much room by Edman outside the area on the left side. Garcia used the space well, curling a great left foot shot beyond Robinson to make the scores level at half time. It might have been worse, had Robinson not made a great point blank save at close range from Morientes header from a Gerrard free kick.
Spurs started the second half well, and Alonso was not too happy with Sean Davis’s challenge, looking for a foot-up offence. Davis’s determination led ultimately to Spurs taking the lead again, as first Davies cross gave Reid a chance (corner), then Kanoute crossed from the bye-line on the right for Robbie Keane to score with his head! Jamie Carragher deflected the ball to wrong foot Dudek, but the goal will go to Robbie.
Spurs failed to hold their lead, but it took longer than it should have for Liverpool to equalise. Gerrard was fouled by Carrick’s out-stretched foot as he entered the Spurs area. Gerrard got up to take the kick himself. Robinson went the wrong way, but Gerrard hit the kick way outside the post for an escape for Spurs. It was Hyypia that did level the scores after Kanoute half cleared a corner, then Ledley King’s challenge was less than convincing as Hyypia stepped up and hit a low shot past Robbo from outside the box. Now the home side had a number of chances. Garcia did well on the left of the box, but his shot passed just in front of the posts across the goal. Then Gerrard threaded a ball for Finnan, who hit the ball across Robinson from the other side. Alonso hit a shot over the bar from 25 yards.
Nunez was replaced by Cisse who naturally got a great reception after his horrific injury at Blackburn in October, making his first home appearance since then. Simon Davies had a couple of chances as he advanced at an angle from the right. The second of these was tipped over by Dudek. It was Liverpool who came closest towards the end, as Gerrard hit the outside of the post, then Morientes skied a shot over the bar in injury time.
Spurs got a valuable point to hold seventh place, and stay in the fight for UEFA. A win on Wednesday night would give them 50 points at this stage of the season for the first time since 1996, but West Brom will be battling for survival!
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