Suarez in thick of it on blank return

Liverpool 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0: Uruguayan shows both sides to his game on comeback but Spurs hold out in stalemate

Anfield

Por fin llego el dia (Finally the day has come), Luis Suarez declared yesterday and when his much heralded return had almost taken the roof off Anfield, he needed only three minutes to reveal why he is a player who will always invite extreme opinions.

The day might have started with mild expressions of warmth for the club whose defence of him to the hilt, in the four months since he was accused of the racial abuse of Patrice Evra on this turf, has created an important bond. But within three minutes he had been booked for a challenge which, within another two, had moved Manchester United's Wayne Rooney to throw in a comment and by the end of the night he was screaming to the Liverpool night in fury at a penalty denied him. Throw in another four shots on goal in the space of around 25 minutes of play and you realise why supporting him was considered worth staking a club's reputation on.

Since Kenny Dalglish felt he could wait, Suarez was reduced to knocking balls around with Fabio Aurelio before kick-off. "In some ways he'll be like a new signing. So that'll be two Januarys running we've signed Luis," Dalglish said of the player in question, in his programme notes. You just sensed that neither of them could hardly wait to put his absence to an end. Initially, the only catcalls came from the Kop end when a feline tortoiseshell presence on the pitch temporarily suspended proceedings. The ensuing chorus of "we're not racists, we only hate cats..." was sublime.

The trials and tribulations of another prospective member of the night's cast prevented him making it at all. Harry Redknapp's travel prospects had brightened when his court case was adjourned early, because Southwark Crown Court was deemed too cold, but a technical problem with his plane prevented the 64-year-old leaving the runway at London City Airport.

But there was also the not insignificant issue of two sides with major ambitions to fulfill – third-placed Tottenham wanting Manchester United to feel north London breath on their collar and Liverpool, who had maintained the sixth spot they held when Suarez last played on Boxing Day, seeking the same discomfort for fourth-placed Chelsea.

Dalglish's decision to reward Andy Carroll for some promising recent signs were not immediately repaid. He sent a wild 30-yard back-pass out of play inside the first three minutes. But there then ensued something that the watching Fabio Capello must have enjoyed, if only for novelty value: good news on the England defensive front.

Michael Dawson started it in the fifth minute, with an impeccably timed tackle on Carroll after Steven Gerrard had began a night of immaculate distribution by playing him through into the penalty area. Carroll briefly joined in Anfield's "penalty" calls but withdrew his raised arm. He recognised superb defending. Kyle Walker and Glen Johnson – competitors for Capello's right-back jersey this summer but with Johnson forced to left-back by Jose Enrique's injury – then offered the command performances of the first half as they went up against each other. Walker stunted Dirk Kuyt's progress immediately when Gerrard picked him out and he then opened up a dangerous flank for Tottenham, advancing twice into attacking areas. Gareth Bale's flick bounced up tamely for Pepe Reina on the first occasion and Johnson slid in to deny him on the second.

But it was Liverpool, galvanised by Gerrard, who showed the greater first-half threat. The closest they came to opening the scoring was the 25-yard shot that Jay Spearing sent swerving a foot wide of Brad Friedel's left-hand post after Gerrard had teed him up just after the half-hour, though it was Johnson who ended the first half with a dangerous, skidding effort that Friedel did well to stop with his legs.

It was the spark of the unexpected that Liverpool needed to convert their considerable possession into a lead. Something, perhaps, of the measure that Wolves manager Mick McCarthy described when Liverpool beat his own team in September. "He never does what you expect him to. He is something else," he said of Suarez.

He appeared just after the interval to warm up for the first time and though the Depeche Mode anthem in his name rang out – instantaneous and cacophonous when he arrived on the pitch after 66 minutes – there were casual reminders from the Tottenham end of the kind of reception which may be to come. "You know what you are" and "Are you Terry in disguise?" Finally, Dalglish had Suarez, Gerrard and Carroll on the same field of play together. The three had combined for only 69 minutes in total before last night.

The impact was extraordinary as Suarez demonstrated qualities which will make him divine or a devil, according to your particular persuasion. A full minute had not ticked down before he had dispossessed Benoît Assou-Ekotto down the Liverpool right and gone racing dangerously into the area, where another excellent intervention from Dawson saw off the danger.

Then came the other Suarez. A dangerous swing at a bouncing ball in the Tottenham area which found no connection with the ball and a substantial connection with Parker – who took the full force of Suarez's boot in his abdomen and fell in agony to the floor.

It looked like an accidental challenge and one befitting the yellow card Suarez received, though Rooney felt differently. "If ref sees that challenge from suarez and books him for it it should be red," he tweeted.

The most dramatic events were yet to come. Bale was presented with the best chance of the night when released on a counter-attack, only for Pepe Reina to smother the threat. Carroll then conspired to spurn an even better chance. Martin Kelly's cross was headed down invitingly but having controlling it, he crashed it over the bar. Suarez will have longer to break the deadlock at Old Trafford on Saturday. There will be fireworks.

Match facts

Liverpool: REINA; KELLY; SKRTEL; AGGER; JOHNSON; ADAM; SPEARING; KUYT; GERRARD; BELLAMY; CARROLL

Spurs: FRIEDEL; ASSOU-EKOTTO; KING; DAWSON; WALKER; LIVERMORE; PARKER; KRANJCAR; MODRIC; BALE; ADEBAYOR

Substitutes: Liverpool Suarez (Kuyt, 66), Downing (Bellamy, 73) Tottenham Saha (Adebayor, 71), Rose (Krancjar, 87)

Booked: Liverpool Suarez, Skrtel Tottenham Parker, Bale.

Man of the match Gerrard.

Match rating 6/10.

Possession: Liverpool 52% Tottenham 48%.

Attempts on target: Liverpool 15 Tottenham 9.

Referee M Oliver (Northumberland)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project