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Spurs v Liverpool, 12.11.08


Spurs scorers:-
Pavlyuchenko, 38, 52
Campbell, 42, 45

Liverpool scorers:-
Plessis, 49
Hyypia, 63

Referee: - Mike Riley

Attendance: - 33,242

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes (sub Cesar, 73); Hutton, Dawson (Capt.), Corluka, Bale; Lennon, Huddlestone, Zokora, O’Hara; Pavlyuchenko (sub Boateng, 90), Campbell (sub Bent, 90)

Subs not used: - Gunter, Rocha; Bentley, Modric

Booked: - Pavlyuchenko, Campbell

Liverpool (4-4-2):- Cavalieri; Degen (sub Darby, 83), Hyypia (Capt.), Agger, Dossena; El Zhar, Lucas, Plessis (sub Alonso, 65), Babel; N’Gog, Torres (sub Insua, 55)

Subs not used: - Gulacsi (GK):- Carragher; Benayoun, Riera

Booked: - Plessis, Torres, Babel, Lucas,

Fraizer smokin’ – Liverpool in clay

Spurs marched on in style to the Carling Cup quarter-finals last night despite fielding a team which featured seven changes to the starting line-up after Sunday’s win at Manchester City. A lot of fuss was made about the strength of Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool side, but three of their back four play first team football regularly, and Lucas, Babel and Torres were also in the team. The fact is though that the Liverpool side was there for the beating, and Spurs side that convincingly thanks to two goals apiece from Fraizer Campbell and Roman Pavlyuchenko. Three of those goals came in a dazzling spell in the run-up to half-time, and it was Fraizer Campbell who made the first and scored the second and third, who has to be named as man of the match.

The money men at White Hart lane will be happy, as despite a number of season ticket holders staying at home to watch on television, not paying the Category B prices, plenty of fresh faced fans did make the effort and paid the premium to watch their favourites in the flesh. They were rewarded with skill aplenty, and a game played at great tempo, particularly after Benitez had “kicked some arse” at half time! The Liverpool side looked stuck in the mud for a lot of the first half.

Harry Redknapp rested his first three Captains, leaving Michael Dawson to wear the armband. Bentley, Modric and top scorer Darren Bent were also left on the bench, and will be raring to go on Saturday at Craven Cottage. One pleasing aspect of the night was another stage in the rehabilitation of Ricardo Rocha and Kevin-Prince Boateng who were given places on the bench. Boateng got on in the long period of added time for a decent cameo, which included a bit of show-boating in the midfield, before making a successful pass.

So, Liverpool (supported by a strong contingent of their fans) were there for the taking, but they still had danger men up front in Ryan Babel, and Fernando Torres, who were repelled when necessary by Corluka and Dawson, both of whom played well in the middle, whenever tested. Spurs always looked good going forward, but there were spells when they were failing to get a foot on the ball in the middle, allowing the opposition to press forward.

However, the trend in the first half was for Spurs to dominate possession and regularly threaten, thanks to Lennon’s pace and penetration, O’Hara’s passing skills, Bale’s forward runs, and not least the skill, enterprise and team-work demonstrated by twin strikers Pavlyuchenko and Campbell, who looked as if they had been spending valuable time getting to know each other on the training field. Huddlestone made a good pass to Lennon after an early free kick, and Lennon’s cross glanced across Pavlyuchenko’s head, but passed the area for a throw on the opposite side. Neat football by O’Hara and Pavlyuchenko led to a pass to Campbell, who was unable to resist the strong defensive challenge. Campbell was often the recipient and winner of the ball in great positions, but did not always have the strength to repel the challenges of the likes of Agger and Hyypia.

There was danger for Spurs after 7 minutes, when Babel cut in with the ball from the left, and nearly reached Torres with his pass, which was well cleared by the Spurs defence. Plessis took an early booking for a foul on Pavlyuchenko, who then headed down O’Hara’s cross in Campbell’s direction. Campbell was already on the floor and unable to convert. After a little bit of Spurs pressure in the 19th minute, Bale crossed to Lennon, whose effort was deflected for a corner, from which Pavlyuchenko hit a backward header towards goal, held by Cavalieri,

Spurs had a good break, after good defensive work by Dawson, O’Hara carried the ball forward on a run and fed Pavlyuchenko, who had time to shoot but failed. Spurs were well rewarded in the 38th minute, when Bale took the ball inside to the left channel and sent Campbell away to the bye line with a good pass. Campbell’s speed and determination ensured he got the ball back into the danger zone, where Pavlyuchenko finished off with a low shot in the middle of the area from the edge of the box. Then Pavlyuchenko had another chance blocked which ran to O’Hara, whose shot was well saved by the keeper.

O’Hara sent a lovely ball from the left into the box in the 42nd minute. Campbell took full advantage of indecision between Cavalieri and Dossena, dinking the ball ahead of them for an easy finish in front of the Park Lane End. Campbell doubled his tally before the break, when Lennon crossed from the left after a corner, and Campbell confidently planted a header in the net.

Rafa clearly gave his men the required half-time pep talk, and they came out looking more determined and more like a Liverpool team, putting the home side under pressure. It was no surprise when they got one goal back from Babel’s corer, which Plessis headed home. Spurs responded well though and restored the three-goal advantage after Bale intercepted a midfield ball, and passed to Zokora, who made a good run into the area on the left side, hitting a cross which was deflected into the path of the grateful Pavlyuchenko, who matched Campbell’s brace with a good finish. After a short corner by O’Hara and Lennon, Aaron crossed and Campbell hit a header outside the post.

Torres was replaced by Insua, who did have a shot well blocked after 62 minutes. From the corner, Liverpool were allowed another simple goal from a header when their skipper Hyypia left Gomes flailing at Babel’s cross. Alonso replaced Plessis, and El Zhar had a good shot saved by Gomes. Gomes was then hurt in a challenge at the feet of Degen, and caused concern with the amount of time he was being treated. Gomes had to be replaced by Cesar Sanchez (who gave a competent show in goal), and apparently there is no long-term problem for the number one Spurs keeper.

There was a good Spurs move finishing with a cross for Pavlyuchenko, whose shot was saved, before Gareth Bale survived a penalty appeal in front of the Liverpool fans. That was the last worry for Spurs, who played out the 9 minutes of added time confidently, spending much of that time in the Liverpool half.

Spurs have now won five out of the six games played since Harry Redknapp’s arrival, drawing the other. They have scored 18 goals in those 6 games, compared to only 10 goals in Juande Ramos’s 12 games in charge. The transformation is plain to see, and has been exciting to watch. Let’s hope the league revival continues at Craven Cottage on Saturday. I can’t wait!

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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