Liverpool, without 5 of their first team, made easy work of Tottenham Hotspur – ending the Londoners’ chance of a record breaking 6 matches without conceding.
With Aquilani and Riera returning to a reds line up, there was only 5 minutes on the clock before the reds went ahead. Aquilani fought for the ball and set up Kuyt who fired home from outside the box.
Before the game, support for Rafa Benitez was evident in abundance from the Anfield faithful. Flags, banners and chants in support of the club boss were in evidence, amid what has been a testing time for the under fire Spaniard.
The reds early goal helped settle nerves.
Spurs had a bit of possession but the reds limited them to pot shots in the first half and the big influence of Greek defender Kyrgiakos was never far from Liverpool’s attacks.
Aquilani, playing behind the striker in a role that Gerrard normally occupies was at his best. We have heard countless tales from Roma fans in recent weeks that he is best there rather than a partner for Mascherano. Maybe Gerrard will have some competition at last? Riera, again his first game back from injury, put in a good shift till his late substitution.
The second half opened brightly for the reds, although Spurs again began testing the defence. Jermaine Defoe did put the ball in the net but he the linesman had already flagged for a foul when he grabbed the defender.
As the second half wore on the reds increased the pressure and a number of golden opportunities landed at the feet of Degen (passed instead of shooting) and Kuyt (put a couple of chances wide when it was easier to score).
The arrival of David N’gog for a tiring Alberto Aquilani added huge impetus to Liverpool, almost the perfect substitution.
In recent weeks the signalling of 5 minutes of injury time would have brought fear to Liverpool fans’ minds, but not today, and a clinical N’gog break saw him brought down for a penalty.
Kuyt lashed the shot in to the net and celebrated. But the ref wanted it taken again as a reds player had stepped in to the box.
Without a second though, Dirk placed the next in the corner before spinning round to celebrate an injury time goal. This time, for a change, for the reds.
A well deserved victory and the reds get some vengeance for the opening day defeat at White Hart Lane.
The reds move to a point behind 4th place.
Post Match Comments
“The key to the win was the character of the side, I think.
“We worked hard, created chances, and were strong in defence when we needed to be. We knew it was an important game but it’ll be a long race for top four.”
Rafa had heard of Gillett suggesting the club were merely enduring a blip and responded.
“It is positive to hear good things from the owner about the club, the players and the manager.
“We know we have not been at our best, but if we work like we did today we know we can beat anybody. We need to believe and have confidence.”