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Liverpool 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1 - Prem (Apr 22 2001)

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LIVERPOOL 3 Spurs 1

Report by Dave Usher at Anfield

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Scorer(s) – Emile Heskey, Gary McAllister (pen), Robbie Fowler

Half Time - 1-1

Venue - Anfield

Date - Sun 22 April 2001

Star Man – Sami Hyypia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a while it looked pretty dodgy, but in the end we picked up the three points that were desperately needed to keep up the fight for a top three spot. With Ipswich and Leeds showing no sign of dropping any points, it looks as though we will have to win every single game if we are to make the Champions League.

 

On paper this is a game we shouldn't have had any problems with, but then they are always the games which we do have problems with aren't they? This proved to be no different, as injury ravaged Spurs put up a game performance which for a time looked like it would give them at least one point to take back to North London.

 

Full credit to Tottenham, who by my reckoning had only three first choice players in their line up - Sullivan, Sherwood and Carr. I don't think I've ever seen a side so decimated with injury, and it's a credit to them that they could put up such a valiant performance. When Heskey latched onto Berger's brilliantly incisive through ball to give us the lead with only a few minutes on the clock, I thought we could see a rout, but it never materialised, and we were made to work extremely hard for this one.

 

Spurs equaliser was a bit bizarre, as most of us were still celebrating what we thought was a wonderfully instinctive goal from the otherwise out of sorts Michael Owen, when the next minute Spurs were on the break through reds reject Oyvind Leonhardsen. He squared to Korsten and he kept his cool to level the scores.

 

Whether Owen was offside or not I couldn't say at the time (the TV replays later proved he was definitely onside), but Spurs didn't half take the free kick quickly and we were caught cold. Maybe the players were still arguing about the decision, and if they were then Houllier will throw the book at them for that, as Gerard has had a bee in his bonnet over that ever since we gave a goal away to Leeds in similar circumstances during his first game in sole charge (not to mention the late goal we conceded in an FA Cup tie at Old Trafford that same season. You remember, the imaginary foul that Graeme Poll spotted by Redknapp).

 

Anyway, Leonhardsen got a lucky ricochet from Henchoz's challenge and did well to set up Korsten. It was clear that we had switched off for a few seconds after Owen's 'goal' and we paid the price. Leo actually had a fair old game for them, and it's nice to see him doing well, as for all his faults he was always a hard worker who gave his all. He also left Anfield with his dignity intact by refusing to take a parting shot at the club and the manager, something which others failed to do. Yes Ince I mean you.

 

After that we seemed to go a bit stale, although we had one good shout for a penalty turned down when Owen was challenged in the box. The player (Luke Young I think) did get the ball, but he went right through the back of Owen to get it, after Michael had gotten goalside of the Spurs defence. I thought it was a pen, but it was one of those where it's fifty fifty whether you get it or not.

 

The one in the second half which we did get was a disgraceful decision, and had that been awarded against us I'd have been livid. What any moaning Spurs fans (not to mention Hoddle) would do well to remember though, was that minutes earlier they'd gotten away with a blatant pen when Sherwood handled right in front of the ref. That was a penalty, no doubt about it, but having got that one so badly wrong the ref was always going to give the next one that we appealed for, and so it proved.

 

Up stepped Gary Mac for the third time in six days, and the outcome was never in doubt. Goal. Just minutes earlier though we'd had a remarkable escape when Westerveld puled off a great point blank save from Clemence. Had that gone in then we could have kissed goodbye to the Champions League I think, but as it stands the dream is still alive. A cup treble and a Champions League spot for next season is still very much on the cards.

 

Fowler's delightful header from a pinpoint Babbel cross was the icing on the cake, but was harsh on a Spurs side who will take a lot from this performance. As for us, well three points today was absolutely vital, and we need to follow this up with another win at Coventry next week. It won't be easy, but if we are to make the top three we can't afford any slip ups.

 

I gave the star man award to Sami, as he was again magnificent. Gary Mac ran him close with another energetic, composed display. Hard to believe that he's 36 and this was his third full ninety minutes in six days. He looked as fresh as a daisy even right up to the last kick of the game, and his fitness levels are astonishing. The downside to the game were the injuries to Heskey and Smicer. With Litmanen and Barmby still on the treatment table the last thing we need is more injuries to forward players, so let's hope they're not too serious.

 

 

TEAM: Sander Westerveld; Markus Babbel, Sami Hyypia, Stephane Henchoz, Jamie Carragher (Gregory Vignal); Patrik Berger, Steven Gerrard, Gary McAllister, Vladimir Smicer (Dietmar Hamann); Michael Owen, Emile Heskey (Robbie Fowler):

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