|Saturday 16th April 2005
LIVERPOOL 2-2 TOTTENHAM
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Liverpool 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Luis Garcia 44
Liverpool look like they are going to have to win the Champions League at this rate to get back into the competition next season.
Semi-finalists and awaiting Chelsea in their European adventure, they just could not overcome a spirited Tottenham who led twice.
And, with Bolton winning at Charlton, the Anfield men have now slipped to sixth place.
Erik Edman and Robbie Keane twice had Liverpool ahead, with Luis Garcia and Sami Hyypia grabbing vital equalisers.
But it will be the missed penalty from Steven Gerrard that could come back to haunt Liverpool now.
Gerrard returned to captain Liverpool, while boss Rafael Benitez opted to leave out some of the heroes of Turin with trips to Portsmouth and then Crystal Palace next week in mind.
John Arne Riise, Djimi Traore and Igor Biscan were rested to the bench with Mauricio Pellegrino, Fernando Morientes and Stephen Warnock coming into the side.
Benitez opted for a completely different system to the one he employed against Juventus, playing three central defenders with Steve Finnan and Warnock asked to push forward down the flanks.
It was a plan that failed to work with Spurs out-numbering Liverpool in the centre and making life very uncomfortable for the Reds.
Liverpool started slowly, but Spurs had no intention of being low key, and were ahead on 12 minutes when a sensational goal from Edman stunned the Kop.
There was no obvious danger when the Swede collected the ball 35 yards out. But barely a player moved to confront him and Edman unleashed a fierce drive that dipped at the last minute to deceive Jerzy Dudek and crash into the top corner of the net.
Liverpool were unsettled by the constant movement of Keane from flank to flank and Fredi Kanoute's pace and control. And there was a limited response from Liverpool to the shock of Spurs' goal.
Antonio Nunez created a chance for Luis Garcia, but the problems of understanding at the back and in midfield were soon addressed by Benitez who made a tactical change on 35 minutes by putting on Riise for Warnock.
Riise fitted in on the left of midfield, which provided more experience and greater attacking options.
But Liverpool were caught in possession too often by the hounding of Andy Reid, Michael Carrick and Sean Davis.
It needed something special to restore parity before the break, and if if Edman's strike had been great, Luis Garcia popped up with one almost as good for the equaliser on 44 minutes. Alonso's pass out to Finnan was instantly played to the feet of the little Spaniard. He took one touch and spun away from Edman to fire a superb dipping volley from 25 yards into the top left hand corner.
And Liverpool could have been ahead at half time had it not been for a superb save from Paul Robinson to turn away a Morientes diving header seconds after the equaliser.
Spurs hit back with a close range shot from Keane deflected wide and a Kanoute header from Reid's corner that also missed the target.
Liverpool had Pellegrino now playing more as a left back, and when Kanoute got round him on 56 minutes, Spurs were ahead again. The striker's cross arrowed into the box and Keane easily headed past Dudek.
And as if fate was conspiring against Liverpool, they missed a penalty a minute after going behind. Luis Garcia played a one-two with Gerrard in the box and Kelly and Davis combined to trip the home skipper, who got off the floor to blast the spot kick into the Kop.
It took an unlikely source to get Liverpool level again on 63 minutes. Gerrard's corner was only half cleared to the edge of the box, and Hyypia chased it out and turned to fire from 18 yards past Robinson's left hand.
Luis Garcia's spin and left footed shot dipped over the bar and then Nunez and Gerrard combined to play Finnan clear in the box on the right, the Irishman's shot flashing inches wide of the far post.
And Liverpool's desperate need for all three points saw them pushing men forward, leaving themselves wide open to the counter, something Spurs frequently looked like achieving.
Alonso was feeling the pace by now and was replaced by Biscan, but still the danger was there for Liverpool and Davies saw a dipping 20 yarder tipped over by Dudek.
Luis Garcia fired over from a Riise pass before Gerrard hit the post from 15 yards before Morientes hooked over from the six yard line as Liverpool piled on the pressure, but they were unable to force the win they so desperately needed.
Liverpool Dudek, Finnan, Hyypia, Pellegrino, Carragher, Nunez (Cisse 77), Gerrard, Alonso (Biscan 84), Warnock (Riise 35), Luis Garcia, Morientes.
Subs Not Used: Carson, Traore.
Tottenham Robinson, Kelly, King, Dawson, Edman, Davies, Carrick, Davis, Reid (Ziegler 72), Kanoute, Keane (Defoe 88).
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Bunjevcevic, Marney.
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).
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|Match Report filed: 18 April 2005|