FA Premier League
Sun 24th May 2009 4pm @ Anfield
Despite a relatively average performance from Liverpool, even an off day we’re too good for sides like Tottenham Hotspur. And if it wasn’t for Robbie Keane’s goal they arguably would have been as poor opponents as relegated Newcastle were a couple of weeks ago. Remember, that Tottenham did have something riding on this game – whereas for the reds it was all about pride.
Pride, and of course Sami Hyypia, who was omitted from the starting line up but left on the bench ready for a brief cameo.
Carragher played right back with Agger and Skrtel taking up the two centre-back berths. Before the game a mosaic was revealed on The Kop in honour to our departing Finnish, and now, Anfield legend. Hyypia leaves the club at number 20 in the all time LFC player appearances, ahead of players with the stature of Ron Yeats, Ian St John, John Barnes, Graeme Souness and obviously many hundreds of others.
Liverpool started brightly, controlling much of the early exchanges although unable to find that final penetrating pass. Benayoun had a great chance to put the reds 1-0 up but fired over the bar.
Gerrard had a poor game, often failing to find space and wasting possession, but when he found Kuyt on the half hour – the Dutchman sent in a perfect cross which Torres duly despatched past Gomes. It was Torres 50th goal for Liverpool – coming in 84 appearances.
Robbie Keane had a chance at goal but, much to Anfield’s wry amusement, put it out for either a throw-in or a goal-kick. I can’t remember which – but needless to say it went wide.
In the second half, Spurs had a great chance with a free kick on the edge of the box but Pepe Reina dealt with the shot easily.
Gerrard then had a great opportunity but the referee waved away shouts of handball after Corluka handled the ball. Spurs fans spent the next few minutes mocking Liverpool’s appeal for handball but they went quiet again within a minute when Liverpool doubled their lead. After some neat passing, Kuyt fired in a shot which defender Hutton put in to his own net.
The clamour for Hyypia’s arrival began to reach tipping point but Robbie Keane managed to score a goal at Anfield after breaking the reds offside trap. Not the most prolific of scorers at our ground in any colours, but his goal ended any hope of Pepe Reina being awarded the Golden Glove for the fourth consecutive year. To his credit, he turned away and didn’t celebrate the goal.
Any hope of a Spurs fightback were eroded shortly after when Keane played a poor pass back which had the Spurs defence in all sorts of trouble. Benayoun managed to intercept and tidily pushed the ball past Gomes to ensure Liverpool end the season as top scorers and with a goal difference of +50. The reds also ended up with 86 points, second place, and statistically this was Liverpool’s second best league campaign in the club’s history – eclipsing the 1987/88 Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge team.
With 5 minutes left Sami Hyypia was sent on with a standing ovation replacing Gerrard. The Captain’s armband was passed to Sami and after some stout defending, the Finn almost scored a great header from a corner. All the more impressive because the crowd were singing his name and he was marked by about 3 Spurs defenders.
At the final whistle the emotion of it hit Sami, and thousands of reds fans inside Anfield. There was no trophy this season but Liverpool have made massive strides forward on the pitch. Liverpool fans all over the world will be hoping we can take one more step forward next season.
Post Match Comments
“I was trying to keep Sami [Hyppia] on the bench until the last minute but I couldn’t because the fans were pushing me. Working with Sami for five years I know he is a fantastic professional and hopefully he will do the same in Germany and then come back to us.”Clearly he will have a position with us in two or three years if we’re still here. But it’s a little bit emotional and a little bit sad today.
“We knew it was important for the fans that we finished the season really well. When it’s the last game it’s difficult to keep working hard but I was impressed with [Javier] Mascherano who just kept running.”
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt (Riera 66), Gerrard (Hyypia 84), Benayoun, Torres (Ngog 78).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Lucas, Insua, Degen.
Goals: Torres 31, Hutton 64 og, Benayoun 81.
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Modric, Zokora, Jenas (Bentley 40), Bale (Bent 78), Defoe (Pavlyuchenko 70), Keane.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Gunter, Campbell, Chimbonda.
Goals: Keane 77.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)