Football: McManaman provides spur

Liverpool 3 Tottenham Hotspur 2 Carragher og 13, Iversen 35 Half- time: 0-2 Attendance: 44,007
Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE DEBATABLE dismissal of the Tottenham full-back Mauricio Taricco allowed Liverpool to get back into and eventually win a game that had looked beyond them.

It said much for the lack of ambition and confidence that has afflicted both these clubs in recent years, that at the fag end of the season and with nothing at stake they both opted for a five-man midfield and a lone front-runner.

In the absence of Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler, Liverpool perhaps had little option but to leave Karlheinz Riedle to his own devices up front, but it was Tottenham's lone striker Chris Armstrong who drew first blood.

With 13 minutes gone, Steffen Iversen, whose close control had been the only bright spot in a drab opening, got beyond the Liverpool back four on the right and struck a low cross into the six-yard box. Under pressure from Armstrong, the Liverpool defence made a complete hash of clearing it. First the goalkeeper Brad Friedel miskicked on the goal-line and then Jamie Carragher turned it into his own net.

If that took the shine off a week in which the Liverpool defender made his England debut as a second-half substitute in Budapest, his manager Gerard Houllier may momentarily have been regretting the precipitate relegation of his erstwhile first-team goalkeeper David James to the bench. Friedel, however, made amends almost immediately as Armstrong was twice put clear of the tentative Liverpool rearguard, first blocking a powerful shot at point-blank range, then racing out to smother at the striker's feet.

The best Liverpool could manage in reply was a David Thompson shot that skimmed the bar and a Steve Staunton free-kick from the edge of the penalty area that flew into Ian Walker's midriff.

With the Kop, who had not seen their team win at home for a month, getting restive, Spurs doubled their lead after 35 minutes, and again the Liverpool defence was found wanting. Jose Dominguez swung in a free-kick from wide on the left and Iversen drifted unchallenged through a crowded six-yard box to score with a powerful header.

With the footballer of the year David Ginola waiting on the Spurs bench, the odds looked stacked against the home side until the referee redressed the balance just before half-time. Steve McMan-aman got the better of Taricco but tripped over the full-back's outstretched foot. It hardly looked a bookable offence but Stephen Lodge took out a yellow card and, as Taricco had already been booked for an earlier offence against the same player, it had to be followed by red.

Four minutes into the second half, Liverpool reduced the arrears when Walker brought down Riedle and Jamie Redknapp scored from the spot. The equaliser arrived in the 77th minute when Paul Ince's glancing header from Redknapp's cross beat Walker, and, two minutes later, McManaman put them ahead from 20 yards after a Rigobert Song cross was cleared to his feet.