fast little loans
London – Luis Suarez won the battle and Liverpool won the war, but Tottenham’s wounds were largely self-inflicted at Anfield.
What was Kyle Walker thinking when he lofted a 30-yard back-pass to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris with Spurs 2-1 up and in control of the game? What did Jermain Defoe hope to achieve by prodding the ball back towards his own goal 16 minutes later, leading to a foul on Suarez and Steven Gerrard’s decisive penalty?
For once we weren’t talking about Suarez diving. Or Gareth Bale for that matter. Even Andre Villas-Boas admitted that referee Michael Oliver was right to penalise Benoit Assou-Akotto for his untidy challenge on the Uruguayan.
But that isn’t to say Suarez steered completely clear of controversy after scoring his 29th goal of the season – and 15th in the last 14 games – to help Liverpool into sixth place above their neighbours Everton.
At the final whistle, he exchanged words with Scott Parker, having clashed with the Spurs midfielder and Mousa Dembele during the game. Then, as the players walked off, Dembele had to be separated from Daniel Agger while Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones grabbed Parker by the throat.
It was an unseemly end to what had been a thoroughly entertaining game; one that saw Tottenham’s 12-match unbeaten run in the Premier League come to an end. For Liverpool, this was maybe not the most deserved of wins under Brendan Rodgers but it was certainly one of the best. Before yesterday, they had not beaten anyone in the division higher than Swansea.
It was billed as a shootout between Suarez and Bale and, by scoring and winning a penalty, the Liverpool striker trumped the Welshman’s two assists for unlikely Spurs scorer Jan Vertonghen.
“Gareth Bale showed some fantastic touches but Luis is Man of the Match so he’s obviously come out on top today,” crowed Jamie Carragher, who will have enjoyed his 500th Premier League appearance.
Philippe Coutinho produced a wonderful piece of skill to start the move that led to Liverpool’s first goal in the 21st minute.
Under pressure from Walker on the near touchline, Coutinho dragged the ball back and flicked it to Jose Enrique, who exchanged passes with the little Brazilian before slipping a pass inside Michael Dawson. Suarez was on to it in a flash, nicking the ball first time under Lloris’s body and inside the near post.
Liverpool could have had a second if Mr Oliver had spotted Walker tugging at Coutinho’s shirt inside the box, but Spurs gradually gained the upper hand and were worthy of an equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Until then, Bale’s contribution had been restricted to an early free-kick beaten away by Jones, with Liverpool not allowing him a moment to settle on the ball.
Gerrard overdid it by barging into his back as they went up for a header, but Rodgers was unhappy that Bale was allowed back on after treatment on the same side of the pitch where Tottenham were on the attack.
Enrique should have cut out a pass to Bale from Dembele, and so should Glen Johnson as he inexplicably turned his back, failing to jump with Vertonghen, who met the Welshman’s great cross with a downward header past Jones.
For Tottenham’s second eight minutes after the restart, Bale was fortunate to win a free-kick when Lucas raised an arm into the side of his neck. He swung a cross towards the far post, where Carragher nodded the ball down under pressure from Dawson and Vertonghen volleyed inside the post.
From that point on, Spurs should have won comfortably.
They had more possession overall and more shots on goal, including one from Gylfi Sigurdsson that Jones deflected against the post.
“The moment of the game,” Villas-Boas described it later.
Then, suddenly, Spurs self-destructed. Walker inexplicably played that back-pass towards Lloris, whose woeful attempt at a clearance was blocked by Stewart Downing, the Liverpool winger steadying himself before firing through Vertonghen’s legs.
And, eight minutes from time, Lloris punched Gerrard’s free-kick as far as Defoe, who controlled the ball and for some reason returned it into his own penalty box. Again Suarez pounced, going down as he tangled with Assou-Ekotto.
Was it a penalty? “Maybe yes, maybe no,” said Suarez. “There was contact.”
Gerrard sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot and the three points were Liverpool’s. Their faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are still alive. Spurs have a much better chance, but not if they continue to make mistakes like this. – Daily Mail