Roy Hodgson defends misfiring Fernando Torres

Roy Hodgson insists Fernando Torres' crisis of confidence has not returned after the striker's killer instinct appeared to desert him in Liverpool's 2-1 defeat at Tottenham.

Torres twice hesitated when clean through either side of half-time while the visitors were leading at White Hart Lane in the Barclays Premier League yesterday.

That allowed Sebastien Bassong to snuff out the danger and keep Spurs in a game that was in danger of slipping away from them.

Hodgson admitted last month that Torres was mentally "a bit low" following an injury-hit spell and a poor World Cup.

He looked back to his best in Liverpool's victory over Chelsea but has now drawn a blank in his last three matches.

"I think 'crisis of confidence' may be too strong," said Hodgson after Torres' display yesterday.

"I was pleased with Fernando Torres.

"Fernando himself, because he sets very high standards, will be disappointed he didn't take on of the goal chances which his good play - to be fair - created."

Hodgson also refused to be too harsh on the Spaniard's strike partner David Ngog after the latter inexplicably handled Gareth Bale's free-kick to gift Tottenham a penalty yesterday.

Ngog enjoyed a reprieve when Jermain Defoe missed from the spot and Hodgson said: "Players do these things.

"I don't think he jumped with his hands to actually stop the ball with his hands."

Ngog hobbled off in the second half but Hodgson's main concern was a serious injury to stand-in captain Jamie Carragher, who went off late on with a suspected dislocated shoulder.

Injuries also took the gloss off what was Spurs' fifth league victory from a losing position this season.

Rafael van der Vaart lasted less than 12 minutes of his return from an ankle knock before being forced off with a suspected torn hamstring, while Younes Kaboul followed before half-time with what the defender felt was a torn hip muscle.

The imminent return of Michael Dawson should soften the blow if Kaboul is ruled out for any length of time, however.

Yesterday's game looked destined to end 1-1 after Martin Skrtel scored at both ends and the match entered stoppage time.

But Aaron Lennon netted a dramatic winner in the 92nd minute to move Tottenham back to within six points of the summit.

It completed a stellar eight days for Harry Redknapp's side, who came from 2-0 down to win last Saturday's north London derby before sealing their place in the Champions League knockout phase by beating Werder Bremen on Wednesday night.

Redknapp said: "To pick up three wins is difficult to do and we've done that this week.

"They've had a week's rest, Liverpool.

"We've had a tough week and the lads have still finished stronger."

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