BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 24TH MAY, 2009
LIVERPOOL 3 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1 (0)
Hutton (o.g.), 64
Attendance: - 43,937
Referee: - Mr. P. Walton
Liverpool (4-4-1-1):- Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio; Kuyt (sub Riera, 66), Alonso, Mascherano, Benayoun; Gerrard (Capt.) (sub Hyypia, 84); Torres (sub Ngog, 78)
Subs not used: - Cavalieri; Lucas, Insua, Degen
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, Corluka, King, Ekotto; Modric, Jenas (sub Bentley, 40), Zokora, Bale (sub Bent, 78); Keane (Capt.), Defoe (sub Pavlyuchenko, 70)
Subs not used: - Cudicini; Gunter, Chimbonda; Campbell
Spurs’ season ends in a whimper
Just like Newcastle at Villa Park, Spurs’ season ended in a rather tame whimper at Anfield, where thankfully the game was almost an irrelevance to the drama on offer in the fight for Premier League survival. Spurs fans are still thankful that they did not have an end of season relegation fight on their hands, especially in view of their meek performance against a dominating Liverpool side. Robbie Keane scored once again against a previous team, graciously not celebrating, but once Fernando Torres had given the home side a 31st minute lead, any hope of Spurs gaining the last Europa Cup place faded out of view. That fact was rather frustrating in view of the fact that Fulham did lose their last game, but it is domestic football only for Spurs next season.
Spurs were missing several players including three who are key to any success in my view – Woodgate, Lennon and Palacios. Darren Bent had regained enough fitness to come off the bench late in the game, and he did have a couple of headed chances, but the game was really about Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia, allowed a cameo substitute appearance before departing for Bayer Leverkusen. Hyypia was lauded with a mosaic banner at the Kop End before kick-off and his name was chanted throughout the proceedings until he did eventually replace skipper Steven Gerrard who had been playing the central support role to Torres. Hyypia nearly had a fairy-tale goal too, having a glanced header from a corner saved by Gomes and scrambled clear in front of the Kop.
The football was rarely exciting, and the early signs were not good for Spurs, who were on the back foot for a lot of the time and allowed only rare excursions into opposition territory. That situation wasn’t helped by the relatively early departure of Jenas through injury, replaced by David Bentley, making his first appearance since 7th March. Spurs started with Modric nominally on the right, but having the freedom of the midfield; Jenas and Zokora in the middle, and Gareth Bale (still bearing that statistical mill-stone of not being in a winning Premier League side for Spurs) on the left. When Bentley replaced Jenas, he played down the right flank, and Modric moved inside.
Liverpool threatened in the first minute, after Ledley King’s half-cleared ball reached Zokora who failed to retain the ball which ran to Gerrard, who fired over the bar. Then there was a period of rare chances, and of all people it was Ekotto who first tested Reina with a hard, low drive that the goalkeeper could not hold cleanly. Jenas had a shot on target, but it had no strength. Then Torres gave Liverpool the lead with a header that went in off the underside of the bar, after Kuyt’s cross and Corluka’s discomfort at centre back. Corluka has had an excellent season when playing at right back, but looked less assured today.
After Jenas had been replaced, Defoe had Spurs’ best chance of the half, latching onto a long ball over the Liverpool defence, but was blocked by the alert Reina. Benayoun had another effort over the target before the break.
Again the pattern after the break was more possession for Liverpool, but resistance by Spurs. Modric was fouled just outside the area after 56 minutes, but Bale’s free kick went straight to Reina. Liverpool’s second goal came after the ball was worked in from the right side, and Kuyt hit a shot that Hutton unfortunately deflected past Gomes. Two minutes later Gerrard hit a low shot from an angle on the right that passed the keeper and rebounded off the far post. After more threat by Liverpool through Gerrard and Alonso, Robbie Keane responded by beating the offside trap, latching onto a Modric ball and placing the ball beneath Reina for a goal in front of the Spurs fans. Robbie sedately turned and walked to the centre circle, but received an ovation from both sets of fans. Both sets of fans were also in communion later when “Stand up for the 96” was supported around the ground.
Darren Bent replaced Bale and had a decent headed effort from an Ekotto cross. Bent also glanced wide from a late Bentley cross, but by then Benayoun had settled the game with his goal after Zokora had been well beaten in the middle.
Now we wait to see what business Harry Redknapp will conduct in the summer, and I feel confident that he will make a better fist of the start of next season, unlike his predecessor!
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