Liverpool take advantage of Spurs’ slip-ups
Unbeaten run ends on Merseyside
Luis Suarez (R) is challenged by Benoit Assou-Ekotto to concede a penalty at Anfield. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Date: 10 March, 2013
Merseyside proved home to another tale of late, self-inflicted defeat for André Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur. Unbeaten in the Premier League since conceding two injury-time goals at Everton in early December, Spurs slipped to defeat at Liverpool courtesy of two dreadful errors that destroyed their hopes of closing the gap on second-placed Manchester City.
For Brendan Rodgers, it was the first significant scalp of his Anfield reign and earned a place above free-falling Everton in the table. Luis Suárez scored his 22nd league goal to outshine Gareth Bale and also won the 82nd-minute penalty that enabled Steven Gerrard to seal a victory that maintains Liverpool's commanding form at a crucial stage. They had to come from behind after two goals from another former Ajax captain, Jan Vertonghen, gave Spurs sight of a victory they carelessly allowed to slip through their grasp.
José Reina was unable to build on his impressive display at Wigan last Saturday due to a calf injury but with Philippe Coutinho again a bundle of energy and invention on the left, Suarez lethal in front of goal and the defence compact, Liverpool started and finished in the same impressive fashion that delivered the 4-0 win at the DW Stadium. They saw less of the ball against Tottenham, however, as the visitors' midfield pinned Liverpool deep inside their own half for sustained spells. Jan Vertonghen's equaliser on the stroke of half-time was richly deserved.
Liverpool began brightly, with Kyle Walker covering well to thwart Suárez in the box inside the opening minute, Daniel Sturridge firing wide and also taking a heavy touch when almost put through by a piercing pass from Coutinho. Spurs' opening chance came from a 25-yard free-kick by Bale. Reina's replacement, Brad Jones, fumbled a shot that snaked through the air but the ball bounced to safety.
Spurs appeared to have weathered the early pressure and gained control when they were undone by a flowing Liverpool attack with Latin flair. Coutinho released José Enrique once with a impudent flick, then for a second time with a deft pass into the area. The Spanish left back read Suárez's angled run across the penalty area superbly, threading the ball behind Michael Dawson for the Uruguayan to finish inside Hugo Lloris's near post with the outside of his right foot. It was the confident strike of a forward with 29 goals to his name this season.
Liverpool contained Spurs' danger-man, Bale, for the opening 35 minutes and restricted the Wales international to one run on the right that ended with a sliced shot into the Kop. But his influence increased as the interval approached and Gylfi Sigurdsson was put clear when Bale flicked a pass from the commanding Mousa Dembélé into his path. The Iceland midfielder who rejected a move to Liverpool last summer shot wide from the edge of the area.