Football: Klinsmann's balancing act

Battle to beat the drop: McManaman spoils Tottenham's day as their rivals show the will and the way; Tottenham Hotspur 3 Klinsmann 13 Ginola 49 Vega 80 Liverpool 3 McManaman 21, 89 Ince 64 Attendance: 30,245
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The Independent Online
JURGEN KLINSMANN says he will not be walking out on Spurs, and neither will their fans if Tottenham can promise more performances like this. Inspired by his early goal and the infectious skill of David Ginola, they matched all that a Steve McManaman-driven Liverpool could offer, though it was McManaman who finally snatched the draw that, ironically, was insufficient for the needs of both clubs.

Among the problems Christian Gross knew he would face when induced to rescue Spurs, surely the possibility of falling behind Barnsley was not in the forefront? Yet a week in which, to all outward appearances, the Klinsmann situation was all-important, ended with Gross more concerned about Barnsley's recovery, which would have confirmed the warnings about Yorkshire grit. After all, the evidence until yesterday had not exactly made it imperative that Klinsmann remained leader of the attack, but it was imperative to stay ahead of Barnsley.

For Liverpool, the objective yesterday may not have seemed so critical, though it was for their harassed manager, Roy Evans, whose future will depend on getting the club into the Champions' League by way of finishing runners-up in the Premiership. He must have been encouraged as McManaman immediately taunted Spurs with his inventive passing and speed. But then Klinsmann started to receive the service that had been so lacking in previous matches.

A perfectly weighted ball from Ginola into the penalty area after 12 minutes saw Klinsmann head in with all of his old power and determination. Yet though Klinsmann might have added another that was blocked by Brad Friedel's intervention, McManaman remained the man in the spotlight. He created and scored Liverpool's equaliser.

Slipping a superb pass to the left edge for Michael Owen to pursue, he ran on, received the return and drove the ball in. And when Ginola carelessly square-passed directly to McManaman, Liverpool should have done more than let the ensuing attack dry up without being under real pressure.

For all of Ginola's infuriating tendency to waste opportunities and sky shots, his moments of magic can be priceless. That was the case just after half-time when he collected a pass from Nicola Berti midway into the Liverpool half, adjusted his sights and fired in a wonderful shot beyond Friedel from some 25 yards.

Predictably, it was McManaman who immediately opened a hole in the Spurs defence, back-heeling to Oyvind Leonhardsen whose instant drive hit Baardsen's legs. Unsurprisingly, he was at the beginning of the move that brought about Liverpool's spectacular equalising goal. McManaman's pass allowed the substitute, David Thompson, to centre and Paul Ince, whose contribution had been more irritable than inspiring, muscled into the area and scored with an overhead kick.

Ginola was not to be upstaged. With 10 minutes left, and just after his centre had been headed on to the bar by Allan Nielsen, the Frenchman swung over a penetrating corner that Ramon Vega headed in, also off the crossbar. But a draw was the only just result and it came with two minutes remaining as Owen escaped Vega and hit the post. The ball came out and McManaman was there to equalise in one of Liverpool's most difficult games of the season.

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