Arbeloa Carragher Agger Dossena
Kuyt Gerrard Riera
Carragher (og) 69’
It was a disappointing, wet night in London after 90 minutes. It’s an abomination of a result after injury time ended. So much for Liverpool’s late heroics.
When Kuyt scored in the 3rd minute, after Keane turned two defenders and directed the ball towards Kuyt in space, and he made no mistake from a narrow angle, it looked like Liverpool would be on their way. The home side struggled to get possession for the first 15 to 20 minutes, the conditions increasingly made matters worse, and it could have been 2-0 by the 6th when Bent turned a corner onto his own post.
But Spurs grew more confident as Liverpool failed to notch a second. Liverpool resorted to long diagonals over the top, mostly for Kuyt matched up against Assou-Ekotto, but couldn’t carve out any concrete chances. And Spurs only had one of their own in the 41st, when Modric got the shot off in a crowd of defenders, but Reina was able to palm it away despite seeing it late.
For the first 15 minutes of the second half, it looked a matter of time before Liverpool scored. Although Tottenham brought on Pavlyuchenko for O’Hara to partner Bent, and Hutton for Assou-Ekotto to stiffen the defense, Liverpool bombarded the home goal. Gerrard was first denied by Gomes’ fingertips (and a King deflection, off his arm) pushing it onto the post, and then the crossbar when he tried to audaciously chip the keeper. Alonso and Kuyt were also in on the action, both missing decent chances wide.
But the home side started to click around the 60th minute, and I don’t think that it’s coincidence it happened when Babel came on for Keane, as Liverpool were less able to hold onto possession when the ball was played forward. And Tottenham got the luck they needed in the 69th minute, when Bentley’s corner went in off Carragher under pressure from King.
Unlike in previous games, Liverpool were unable to claw their way back. They created few opportunities after the equalizer, and by the last 10 minutes, Tottenham were on top. In the first minute of added time, Bentley cut in from the left and sent in a wicked shot that Reina did well to parry. But Bent was able to keep it in and direct it to Pavlyuchenko, who got there in front of Agger to stab in.
Luck was bound to turn against Liverpool, and both goals against had a hint of fortune, but the team was punished for not going two goals up. It's that simple. Credit to Redknapp for making changes at halftime, but this isn’t completely down to Harry’s magic. Liverpool need to kill games when they’re the better side. Other than the match against PSV, they haven’t put any team to the sword. And now, they’ve paid for it. I guess it’s a positive that we’ve only seen a couple (if you count Atletico and/or Stoke) of these matches so far this season, and it’s November, but that’s little consolation.
It’s still stunning that the same Liverpool side lost a lead against Tottenham after keeping it against Chelsea last weekend. And it’s basically the same side that beat United, so it’s not all down to Torres’ absence, even though he would have made a massive difference today. Liverpool’s luck finally ran out, and they paid the price.
The team was never going to stay unbeaten, and of course, I feel like I’ve jinxed it talking about the table in the last few days. The maxim that it’s a long season still holds true, and it’s still the best 11-game start to a Premier League campaign. Yes, it’s three points thrown away, but the reaction matters more than the defeat. Now we get to see the resiliency of this side.