Liverpool 3 Tottenham 0: Spurs overpowered by Kuyt and Riise

Liverpool's season gathers momentum as Jol's men miss big chance and lose their way
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The Independent Online

Is it too soon to talk of a crisis at Tottenham Hotspur? The statistics suggest the sooner someone addresses their current problems the better. One win in six matches, 433 minutes without a goal, their worst start for 14 years, there is little reason for cheer at White Hart Lane.

Yesterday the result flattered Liverpool, but Spurs were architects of their own downfall. They should have taken a 1-0 lead in the second half, 38 seconds later they were behind, and by the end they were buried. If the game had gone on for much longer, the chances are they would have suffered a defeat of morale-destroying proportions. As it is, the heady days of last May when they finished fifth seem a long time ago.

"How many times will that happen?" Martin Jol, the Tottenham manager, asked about the decisive 63rd-minute turning point. "Instead of scoring we went behind and the game opened up." It was a succinct summing up of the moment Spurs turned potential victory into crushing defeat.

Edgar Davids sped down the left from Jermain Defoe's pass and his low cross had the perfect virtues of stranding both Jose Reina and what remained of Liverpool's rearguard. In slid Jermaine Jenas for what appeared to be an open goal only for the England midfielder to misdirect wide of the post. A relieved Liverpool shot to the opposite end, Steven Gerrard slalomed past Benoît Assou-Ekotto, Craig Bellamy shot against the post and Mark Gonzalez relieved his blushes by pouncing on the rebound for his first Premiership goal.

After that Tottenham imploded and Liverpool were able to secure their second win in four days and greatly improve what had been a difficult start to their own season. They may not be invading Chelsea's personal space, but at least the champions are not disappearing over the horizon.

That was something that appeared possible in the first 45 minutes. At half-time the public address announcer gave out the latest Ryder Cup score which was the first time Anfield had been able to enjoy itself properly. To use golf terminology, there had been too much use of the driver rather than the wedge, and the ball had been propelled over great distance but to little effect.

This was partly down to Liverpool's tactic of giving Gerrard a free role which frequently left the right flank deserted. Faced with little option but to use the long ball over a congested midfield, the players did and the game frequently disappeared down a Route One cul-de-sac. Consequently, Liverpool had to wait until the 45th minute for their first proper chance, a shot from Bellamy that was turned round the post by Paul Robinson, and it was Tottenham who missed the best opportunity, Ledley King taking an air shot with a point-blank header.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were not much better but once Liverpool had made the breach they punished their opponents with brutal power.

Dirk Kuyt had been performing indifferently but he shook that off when Luis Garcia slipped a pass through to him after 73 minutes. The ball was slightly behind him, but the Dutchman's first touch gave him space and his next was a shot of such force it tore past Paul Robinson.

In most matches that would have been the most thunderous moment yet it was surpassed in the 89th minute. John Arne Riise gained possession just in the opposing half, moved forward 10 yards by way of cocking the trigger and then crashed his drive into the top corner.

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