English Premiership

Liverpool down Spurs in thriller

2013-03-10 20:09
Steven Gerrard (AFP)
Liverpool - Steven Gerrard rocked Tottenham as the Liverpool captain's late penalty clinched a 3-2 win over the Champions League hopefuls at Anfield on Sunday.

VIDEO: Liverpool v Tottenham highlights

Tottenham, who scored twice through defender Jan Vertonghen after Luis Suarez's opener, would have opened up a 10-point gap on rivals Arsenal in fifth place had they held on to their lead.

Instead, Gerrard won it for Liverpool, who had equalised through Stewart Downing, and the Reds climbed above Merseyside rivals Everton into sixth place on goal difference.

Tottenham remain third, two points ahead of fourth placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand.

Liverpool started brightly, with Daniel Sturridge twice found in promising positions by Philippe Coutinho, but his eagerness was not matched by his technique.

On the first occasion he raced into space only to fail to test Hugo Lloris by hitting his shot well over the bar, then when Coutinho delivered a fine pass, the former Chelsea striker failed to control the ball properly.

It was in-form Gareth Bale who commanded the most attention, and the crowd waited in anticipation as he addressed a free kick for the first time.

The Welshman's aim was true enough and goalkeeper Brad Jones, deputising for the injured Pepe Reina, was forced to concede a corner.

However, it was Suarez, Bale's main rival for the Footballer of the Year award, who drew first blood after 21 minutes to put Liverpool ahead.

The goal, his 29th of the season, was fashioned by a smart exchange of passes between Coutinho and Jose Enrique down the left.

Enrique's final pass to Suarez as the Uruguayan sped in behind Tottenham's defence allowed Liverpool's leading scorer to flick the ball past Lloris at the near post with the outside of his right boot.

Bale's response was a wayward shot high into the Kop and moments later he set up Gylfi Sigurdsson with a clever backheel for a shot that went just past a post.

The Wales midfielder was hurt in an aerial challenge with Gerrard and needed treatment before continuing, but Bale soon recovered to provide the far-post cross for Belgian centre-half Vertonghen to head Tottenham level on in first half stoppage-time.

Vertonghen struck again on 53 minutes to put the visitors ahead.

Bale flighted a free kick from the right and although Jamie Carragher won the header, the ball was not cleared and the alert Vertonghen deftly shot into the bottom corner.

With Liverpool in some disarray at the back, Tottenham almost snatched a third goal when Sigurdsson, unmarked, had his angled shot deflected on to a post by Glen Johnson.

However, the visitors presented Liverpool with an unexpected lifeline on 65 minutes that the hosts gratefully accepted.

Kyle Walker played a long back-pass that Lloris came out of his area to clear but missed, leaving winger Downing to equalise past Vertonghen on the line.

The goal seemed to galvanise Liverpool and Sturridge did his best to impose himself, only to find Vertonghen in just as fine form at the back as he had been at the other end.

A blatant dive by Sturridge to win a penalty might have merited a yellow card from a less lenient referee.

But Michael Oliver did eventually point to the penalty spot soon after when Suarez was bundled over by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and Gerrard made no mistake to win it for Liverpool with eight minutes left.

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