Tottenham Hotspur seem to have turned a corner, whereas Liverpool have wandered into a cul-de-sac. A mere point at the end felt harsh on the visitors – and was more than Liverpool deserved.
For the second time in five days, following the 1-0 home defeat to Marseilles in the Champions League, Liverpool's manager, Rafa Benitez, was left bemused.
Until Fernando Torres headed an equaliser two minutes into injury time yesterday, Spurs were heading for a rare and memorable win at Anfield. Not since August 1993 have they beaten Liverpool there in the league.
They went an early goal down to a poacher's strike from Andrei Voronin, one that was helped in by the latest error from Paul Robinson in goal, but took the lead with a carbon-copy pair of route-one goals, both finished by Robbie Keane, either side of half-time.
The north Londoners then outplayed Liverpool, whose confidence had visibly drained, for most of the second half, even when Benitez brought on an extra striker and two attacking midfielders. The home side also suffered from what appeared to be multiple rushes of blood to the head in their keeper, Jose Reina.
The Spaniard was not at fault for the goals – Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia, rarely for them, were culpable, letting Dimitar Berbatov beat them in the air and allowing Keane in behind them. But Reina, on several occasions, ran far out of his area to collect or chase balls that he had no right to get. Maybe he was just miffed at having conceded from open play in the Premier League for the first times this season.
One meander nearly gifted Spurs a third goal when he tangled with Gareth Bale before being bizarrely awarded a free-kick.
"In the first half we deserved to be two or three ahead, and now I need to explain how we conceded two quickly," Benitez said. "The first half we were really good. But the game changed when we conceded two goals that we normally wouldn't concede."
Whether this will be enough to keep Martin Jol in his job as Tottenham manager remains to be seen. An international break would be as good a time as any for a trigger-happy board to fire him.
"I don't know if this [run of unbeaten form] will mean a calm break," Jol said. "I'm not pulling the strings on that one. If I were, it would be really quiet."
He agreed the result was ultimately unsatisfactory for both sides but added: "Everyone else is saying we deserved a win today and I think we did.
"Hopefully this will give the players confidence. It's not what we want, being near the bottom of the table, but you can see we're better than that. You can see my team, fighting for everything."
On this evidence, dismissing Jol now would be silly, perhaps even unfair. His players are indeed giving everything for him, and coming up with the goods, after a fashion.
Last month, Jol was reportedly given a six-game period to prove he could hack it. Yesterday was match number six in that effective audition for his own job. Spurs' record in that time has been two wins and four draws.
The victories were expected: at home against Cypriot minnows Anorthosis Famagusta in the Uefa Cup and at home in the Carling Cup against Middlesbrough. Three of the draws have been away: at Bolton, in the return leg in Famagusta after a 6-1 win in the first game and yesterday. Then there was the extraordinary 4-4 draw with Aston Villa at White Hart Lane last Monday when they came back from 4-1 down.
Liverpool opened the scoring yesterday from a free-kick smashed through the defensive wall by Steven Gerrard. It took the smallest of deflections off Jermaine Jenas but Robinson, hands at ground level, should have held the shot. Instead he spilled it and Voronin netted the rebound.
Liverpool has several clear-cut chances before Spurs equalised. Robinson's long kick was headed on by Berbatov, Keane collected and slotted in.
The same thing happened just after the interval, Keane hooking in a higher flick-on this time.
After throwing players forward, Torres converted Steve Finnan's cross deep in injury time, but a draw still falls short of what Liverpool wanted.
Goals: Voronin (12) 1-0; Keane (45) 1-1; Keane (47) 1-2; Torres (90) 2-2.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Arbeloa (Babel, 63); Pennant (Kuyt, 69), Gerrard, Mascherano, Riise; Voronin (Benayoun, 77), Torres. Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Lucas.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Lee; Tainio (Malbranque, 75), Jenas, Zokora, Bale; Keane, Berbatov. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Defoe, Huddlestone, Gardner.
Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Booked: Tottenham Dawson.
Man of the match: Keane.
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