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Liverpool v Spurs, 26.10.02

FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 26TH OCTOBER, 2002
LIVERPOOL 2 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)

Liverpool scorers:-
Murphy, 72
Owen (pen), 85

Spurs scorer:-
Richards, 82

Attendance:- 44,084

Referee:- Mike Riley

Teams:-
Liverpool (4-4-2):- Dudek; Carragher, Traore, Hyppia (Capt), Riise; Gerrard (sub Smicer, 68), Diao, Hamann, Murphy; Owen, Diouf (sub Baros, 58)

Subs not used:- Kirkland; Babbel; Cheyrou

Booked:- Diao, Smicer

Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, Perry, Richards, Bunjevcevic; Davies, Freund, Redknapp (sub Etherington, 90), Poyet (sub Acimovic, 79); Sheringham (Capt) (sub Ferdinand, 75), Keane

Subs not used:- Hirschfeld; Gardner

Booked:- Redknapp, Carr, Richards, Freund

Dean Richards' superbly crafted equaliser in the 82nd minute was all to no avail, as Spurs lost their concentration and control of Michael Owen in the last 5 minutes, as he jinked past Chris Perry down the left, and was then brought down by Stephen Carr inside the box. Owen made no mistake from the spot for his 6th league goal of the season, and this after a bleak start in which his ability was being questioned in some quarters. Add the hat-trick in Moscow during the week, and the goal-machine is in good nick!

This match had been billed as "the game of the day", as Spurs, in third place at the start of proceedings, sought to bring an end to a run of 6 consecutive league defeats at one of their worst hunting grounds in the country. Spurs certainly gave a very good account of themselves, with Perry and Richards strong at the back. Chris Perry seemed to anticipate most of Owen's moves, although Keller had to be off his line sharply several times when Owen made for long balls from the likes of Stephen Gerrard, making a welcome return for the reds.

Gus Poyet replaced Etherington in the starting line-up, but otherwise, Spurs fielded the same side as last week against Bolton, with Bunjevcevic at left back. It was very pleasing to see Anthony Gardner warming up with the subs, but he remained unused at the end of the day.

Whilst the first half was goal-less, it was not a sterile affair, and Spurs arguably had the best of the chances. Teddy Sheringham won the toss and chose to attack the Anfield Road end with the sun in Dudek's face, but Liverpool put Spurs under pressure in every quarter. As a result, we struggled to pass well at times, and made panicked clearances that fell to red feet too often.

In the early stages, Spurs had a throw deep in their own half, in front of the Kop, and somehow the ball reached Owen in the box, with Keller at his feet to reach the ball. Spurs did not manage a clear cut chance before the 17th minute, when they attacked well down the right led by Simon Davies and Freund. Steffen passed inside to Robbie Keane who cut right and left before forging space to shoot. Unfortunately his goal-bound effort was deflected wide off Gus Poyet's back.

Sheringham was often having to assist the defence and a bad header back by him led to a ball into the Spurs box for Owen, thwarted by Keller again. Jamie Redknapp (who had been given a great reception from his previous fans) won a free kick outside the area. Gus and Robbie teed the ball up for him, and his well-driven shot was pushed out by Dudek and cleared by a defender. With 25 minutes on the clock, Spurs were defending magnificently, before breaking sharply, again down the right. Davies fed Keane whose miscued shot fell to Sheringham who was way off target with his effort.

Diao, in very impressive form in the middle, came closest for Liverpool in the first half, when Carragher found him with a through ball down the right, and Diao shot across Keller, narrowly going wide of the post. Before the interval, referee Riley started his collection of 6 names today, when he booked Jamie Redknapp and Diao, both for fouls. Riley was booed off by the Liverpool fans, no doubt upset by a number of decisions, including the disallowed "goal" by Owen, when Diouf held back Richards illegally. I have to say the linesman at that end made some weird decisions regarding balls being in or out of play.

After the break, a poor clearance by Traore reached Goran Bunjevcevic who ploughed his way into a shooting position. His shot across the keeper was not far away. Spurs seemed to be defending higher up the field in this half, and the runs of Owen and Diouf seemed to be restrained. No doubt tiredness set in for Gerrard, as he had to be replaced by Smicer. The style of Liverpool's attack was to change then, as they would run at the defence rather than rely upon the long ball passes, but not before Gus Poyet went remarkably close for Spurs twice in a minute.

First a great counter attack came down the left from Bunjevcevic and Davies. Freund was soon in support and he passed inside to Gus, whose left foot shot was well saved by Dudek. From the corner, taken by Redknapp, Poyet's powerful downward header was cleared off the line by Hamann. Carr got a booking for a handball in the middle of the park, and then Baros (who replaced Diouf) evaded Richards and fed Owen who shot over the bar.

Liverpool took the lead after 72 minutes. Smicer picked up the ball from Diao, and passed inside to Hamann just on the right edge of the area. His ball to Murphy was not closed down quickly enough, and Murphy beat Keller with a superb shot to the top corner left of the despairing keeper. Liverpool could have had a two goal lead from a Murphy corner, but Hyppia at the back post headed over the bar.

Gus Poyet was replaced by Acimovic with dramatic effect. Dean Richards picked up the ball just inside the Liverpool half and swung the ball out to Acimovic on the left. Milenko took the ball to the bye line, and Richards continued his run into the box, finishing off the move with a header planted in the middle of the goal. The draw would have been a just reward for Spurs' efforts, but all was to be taken away with five minutes to go. First Owen got round Perry down the left side of the area, before entering the box near the bye line. Carr slid in, and whilst the ball may not have caused too much danger, Owen was brought down with a crash, making an easy penalty decision for the referee. Owen got up and put the ball to Keller's left to secure the points.

Liverpool therefore go four points clear of Arsenal (who lost at home to Blackburn) at the top of the table, whilst Spurs dropped to fifth. Next week, we face Chelsea in another crunch game. League points must be secured this time!

CHANT OF THE DAY (to the tune of Bread of Heaven)

SIMON DAVIES, SIMON DAVIES
HE WAS BORN TO PLAY FOR SPURS!
HE WAS BORN TO PLAY FOR SPURS!

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