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Liverpool v Spurs, 10.11.98

This report is courtesy of Brian Judson
Tuesday November 10th 1998.
Worthingtons Football League Cup 4th Round
LIVERPOOL (0) 1 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (2) 3

Liverpool : Friedel; Heggem, Carragher, Staunton, Bjornbye; McAteer, Ince, Thompson, Leonhardsen (sub Riedle, 45); Owen (sub Murphy, 81), Fowler.

Substitutes *NOT* used : James, Kvarme, Harkness.

Booked : Carragher.

Goalscorer : Owen, 81.

Tottenham Hotspur : Baardsen; Scales, Vega, Campbell; Carr (sub Wilson, 81), Calderwood, Nielsen, Sinton, Ginola (sub Allen, 45; sub Fox, 90), Iversen.

Substitutes *NOT* used : Walker, Dominguez.

Booked : Calderwood, Allen, Sinton.

Goalscorers : Iversen, 2; Scales, 20; Nielsen 61.

Referee : Mr G Willard (Worthing).

Attendance : 20,772.

Tottenham fans have grown used to seeing their side slaughtered in a Cup tie in some distant Northern town that they must have anticipated yet another on a ground that has seen them victorious so infrequently. Indeed they went from 1912 to 1985 without recording a solitary victory. Those who travelled to see this match were privileged to see Spurs pull off a very famous victory. Never before in the long history of these clashes had Spurs scored three goals at Anfield.

Liverpool had won a famous match abroad in the UEFA Cup the previous week to this match but had unexpectedly crashed at home to Derby County the following Saturday. Derby had as poor a record of winning at Anfield yet scored two delightful goals. So it was anyone's guess what sort of Liverpool team would emerge from the Anfield dressing room.

Tottenham were only expected to play a bit part as the Graham revolution has yet to get going. He seems to be content with making do with what he has for the moment, even though it is clear that Spurs do not have the resources to challenge for honours.

Liverpool almost scored in the first minute of the game. They poured forward from the kick-off and McAteer headed the ball against the Tottenham cross-bar. Leonhardsen raced forward to catch the rebound but the ball was hooked away before he could reach it.

Within a minute, Tottenham were deliriously ahead! Spurs broke away following a Liverpool attack. Campbell took a free-kick which Iversen took full advantage of from the edge of the penalty area. He nodded the ball in the direction of Friedel's goal, catching him out of position. No one was more surprised or delighted than Iversen. He looked stunned for a second before his delighted team mates fell on him, congratulating him for putting Spurs ahead.

Liverpool was dismayed by this setback and started to play the sort of football Tottenham used to play when they fell behind. Perhaps McManaman was missed but no one seemed to want to hold the ball except, perhaps, Ince, Owen or Staunton. The rest seemed to move it on quickly to another player as if the ball would bite their foot off!

And then in the 20th minute, Spurs were gloriously 2-0 ahead! Iversen burst into the area, the ball ran loose to Nielsen, who headed the ball forward, Friedel fluffed the ball, which ran loose to Scales. As Friedel desperately tried to recover his position, Scales picked his spot to score his first goal for Tottenham.

Whilst Liverpool became even more frantic than ever, Tottenham's much criticised defence seemed to find it childishly easy to break up Liverpool's attacks. What Liverpool needed was for someone to stand over the ball and slow the pace of the game down a bit. But there was no one with the wit or intelligence to vary their attacks and Liverpool must have been told a few home truths in the sanctuary of their dressing room.

Both sides made changes before the match restarted. Rory Allen replaced David Ginola, who had tweaked his hamstring again. He had been seen rubbing it several times in the first half. For Liverpool, Riedle replaced Leonhardsen. I was surprised that Riedle had not started for Liverpool because Campbell was towering over both Fowler and Owen whereas Riedle would have given Liverpool some height up front, which duly began to pose Tottenham problems. But the final pass was never incisive or the shooting was so wild that it often only frightened the mythical Liver bird.

Frantic with the time slipping away, Liverpool pushed everyone up in a bombardment of Baardsen's goal. But then, suddenly, Scales found Iversen on the halfway line, Iversen pushed a peach of a pass directly in the line of Allan Nielsen, who sprang Liverpool's apology for an offside trap. On and on Nielsen ran, the other players in his wake, and Friedel started to come out to narrow the margins. At the last moment, Nielsen shimmied past Friedel and tapped the ball into the unguarded goal.

Tottenham cockily tried to push the ball about, showing their contempt of the shadowy Liverpool team and eventually paid the price. Riedle had already threatened them by heading a ball which threatened to go in until Baardsen plucked it to safety. Riedle then intelligently played a pass towards Ince, who seemed to have a simple chance, but his shot flew harmlessly into the stand behind Baardsen's goal.

And then Baardsen made a completely schoolboy howler by clearing the ball straight to Owen, who made no mistake yet injured himself in the process and had to be substituted. Oh dear! (Brian forgot to mention a super Bardsen save from a Riedle header)

Whilst Liverpool continued to press forward, the Sky cameras showed the depressed faces of Messrs Houllier and Evans, the beaming face of George Graham and the granite, thunderous expression on John Moores, the Liverpool Chairman's face. Heads will be rolling soon, I'd suggest.

And then a flurry of substitutions in the final seconds of the game and then it was all over. At one end of the ground the Spurs supporters were carousing loudly. At the other end of the ground, Liverpool fans sat slumped in their seats, shocked by the manner of a victory carved out by so-called Southern softies.

For me, Steffan Iversen and Sol Campbell were the men of the match but they all played well in their various roles. As for critics of Espen Baardsen, let me remind them that Pat Jennings was equally criticised when he first became first choice 'keeper. I'm confident that Espen can be as good as Pat : a goalkeeper does not mature until his late 20s.

Let us hope this victory heralds the start of Tottenham's re-awakening from a long nightmare!

Brian Judson's preview

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