Statistics clearly mean a lot to Rafael Benitez, especially when, as he sees it, they contradict prevailing perceptions. "We play good football, we try to win every match," the Liverpool manager said. "We have scored 119 goals this season. We have benefited from the goals of Fernando Torres and from the clean sheets of our goalkeeper [Jose Reina], who has won the golden gloves award for the third year running."
Reina kept 17 clean sheets in 38 Premier League matches; Torres scored 24 goals in the same competition.
"All that was missing this season was a trophy," Benitez said. One could see that it hurt him to say so.
Premier League points were at stake at White Hart Lane but nobody was fooled. Sub-tropical weather, spectators concerned with events elsewhere, and two teams relishing the absence of pressure – this match had all the hallmarks of a pre-season friendly.
Tottenham's season effectively ended when, on 12 March, they bowed out of the Uefa Cup; Liverpool lasted six weeks longer, until they lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final.
There was a certain symmetry in that Benitez ended his most difficult season as Liverpool manager in the same stadium, against the same opponents, as he began his Premier League career in August 2004. There is no doubt Liverpool are better now but, like Tottenham under Juande Ramos, they remain in transition.
Fortunately for Liverpool, there is always their Spain striker. Torres's header allowed Andriy Voronin to stab home Liverpool's first goal in the 68th minute; Torres scored the second from close range in the 73rd, after showing close control. He then struck a long-range shot against the crossbar late on.
Dimitar Berbatov came closest to scoring for Tottenham, but his long-range shot was turned aside by Reina. "It was an end-of-season match; very relaxed," Ramos said. "You have to give Torres credit for his performance, even if we did give him too much space for his goal."
Goals: Voronin (68), 0-1; Torres (74), 0-2.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Cerny; Hutton, Dawson (Bent, 75), Woodgate, Gilberto; Malbranque, Zokora, Jenas (Huddlestone, 46), O'Hara (Tainio, 46); Berbatov, Keane. Substitutes not used: Robinson (gk), Chimbonda.
Liverpool (4-4-2): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Skrtel, Insua; Kuyt (Lucas, 81), Gerrard, Mascherano, Babel (Benayoun, 58); Voronin (Finnan, 71), Torres. Substitutes not used: Itandje (gk), Hyypia.
Referee: U Rennie (West Yorkshire).
Booked: Tottenham Hutton. Liverpool Insua.
Man of the match: Torres.
Attendance: 36,063.Reuse content