Liverpool collect records but no trophy

Liverpool 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1
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Liverpool completed their first unbeaten home programme for 21 years in a season that has been statistically remarkable if lacking in silverware. Their points tally is their highest in the Premier League, likewise their total of away wins. No team since the top flight was rebranded has lost only two matches in a full season and not finished as champions.



The irony in this, of course, is that it is their home form that has cost them the title. Those two defeats – at Tottenham and, incongruously, Middlesbrough – may have hurt. But far more damaging were the home draws against Stoke, Fulham, West Ham and Hull, not to mention Manchester City, even Arsenal, given that Liverpool scored against them four times.

It is a failing to which Rafa Benitez did not refer in his programme notes, preferring to focus on positive facts, although he did confess that ''it is not easy to win this league'', which is something of an understatement. Then again, it could be argued that squandering cheap points at home is a shortcoming that ought not to be too difficult to put right.

They never looked like slipping up here. They went ahead in the 31st minute when Tottenham, without the injured Jonathan Woodgate, made a poor job of defending a Dirk Kuyt cross from wide on the right and Fernando Torres (right) found the space to head home off the underside of the bar.

It was the Spaniard's 50th goal in a Liverpool shirt and no more than their play merited. Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano had quickly taken a grip on midfield. Even an injury to Jermaine Jenas, who struggled for several minutes either side of the goal before giving way to David Bentley, could not really be put forward as an excuse.

The Londoners, still with an outside chance of sneaking ahead of Fulham into seventh place and the Europa League, threatened briefly to respond but once Kuyt had doubled Liverpool's advantage in the 64th minute, shooting home with the help of a deflection off Alan Hutton after a neat exchange of passes with Yossi Benayoun, the outcome was almost sealed.

A lapse in concentration allowed Robbie Keane to mark his return to Anfield with a goal 14 minutes from time, but then Benayoun, put through by Steven Gerrard, restored Liverpool's cushion, giving a smiling Benitez the chance to respond to an increasingly insistent Anfield crowd by allowing Sami Hyypia his 464th and final appearance in a Liverpool shirt. In tears at the final whistle, the Finn was carried around on the shoulders of his team-mates.

''It is a little sad because we are losing a fantastic professional and a very good person,'' Benitez said, before rebuffing questions about Alonso's future following weekend speculation.

''Xabi says in all his interviews that he is happy at Liverpool and we don't want to sell him. He is not for sale,'' Benitez said.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Carragher, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio; Alonso, Mascherano; Kuyt (Riera, 65), Gerrard (Hyypia, 86), Benayoun; Torres (Ngog, 78). Substitutes not used: Cavalieri (gk), Lucas, Insua, Degan.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-3-2): Gomes; Hutton, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto; Zokora; Modric, Jenas (Bentley, 39), Bale (Bent, 78); Defoe (Pavlyuchenko, 69), Keane. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Gunter, Campbell, Chimbonda.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Booked: Tottenham Corluka.

Man of the match: Benayoun.

Attendance: 43,937.

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