Liverpool 1 Tottenham 0: Kewell finds gem to add missing sparkle

Liverpool gather title momentum as Tottenham suffer from negative thinking
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The Independent Football

Breaking down the resistance they knew Tottenham would present at Anfield was a task they did not underestimate, quite rightly. But, thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from Harry Kewell, Liverpool won their eighth consecutive home game and closed to within a point of second-placed Manchester United, with two games in hand.

Kewell struck the decisive goal - his first anywhere since December 2004 and his first at Anfield for more than two years - 13 minutes into the second half, meeting Steve Finnan's cross with an unstoppable volley that was received with rapture by a crowd that have suffered with the Australian in his seemingly interminable struggle for form, fitness and confidence.

"If you are going to win a game by a single goal, that is the kind of goal you want it to be," Benitez said. "It was very important for Harry after all he has been through." During that eight-game winning sequence at Anfield Liverpool have not even conceded a goal, in the light of which the absence of Daniel Agger, their newly signed centre-back, and only the brief involvement of his fellow defensive recruit, Jan Kromkamp, needed no explanation. The margin of victory was narrow but Paul Robinson, the Tottenham goalkeeper, had a busy afternoon.

Liverpool should have taken the lead in the eighth minute. Tottenham failed somehow to pick up Peter Crouch's movement at the far post from a Steven Gerrard free-kick, but the England goalkeeper put his body in the way and kept the ball out.

Fernando Morientes, rising to meet Finnan's cross, almost squeezed a header in on the half-hour, and Tottenham suffered another scare eight minutes before the interval. Robinson reacted strangely late as Gerrard's free-kick from the left flank benefited from some late inswing and was grateful for Michael Dawson stepping in.

But Tottenham, who have not been as well positioned in the top flight as they are today for some 21 years, were not to be brushed aside easily. For their part, they should have scored in the opening seconds of the second half, when it looked as if the merest touch from Robbie Keane would have been enough.

Liverpool then stepped up the momentum and made the breakthrough in spectacular style. Robinson could do nothing to prevent Kewell's goal, which the Australian will replay in his mind many times, particularly given how infrequent such moments have become in his recent career. Finnan, for the second time, delivered an excellent cross from the right, Kewell flexed his left foot and his execution from the left-hand angle of the six-yard box was superb.

An immediate counter-strike from Tottenham was foiled as Jose Reina saved from Mido, but Liverpool thereafter were in charge, a red card for Paul Stalteri three minutes from the end, for a foul on Kewell when the referee, Dermot Gallagher, perceived the Australian to be going clear, put the issue beyond doubt.