After The Match 


Liverpool-Tottenham 1-0 (0-0)           14.01.05                    PL
Goals: Kewell (58)
Team: Reina, Finnan, Riise, Carragher, Hyypia, Alonso, Gerrard, Sissoko, Kewell, Crouch, Morientes
Subs: Cisse (Crouch 66), Warnock (Morientes 83),
Kromkamp (Sissoko 90)
Not used: Carson, Pobgolle
Yellow: Tainio (45)
Red: Stalteri (87)
Referee: D Gallagher
Attendance: 44,983
Shots on target: 10-2
Shots off target: 3-4
Possession: 52-48
Fouls conceded: 9-13
Corners: 10-7
Offsides: 3-6
Yellow: 0-1


HEADLINES "We didn't
play fantastic football today..."
    Rafael Benitez

1601: Kewell's quality strike a glimpse of more to come
1601: Goodbye to plan G as Reds share it out
1401: Jol praises Spurs display
1401: Rafa full of praise for goal hero Kewell
1401: Kewell stunner sinks Spurs

Kewell's quality strike
a glimpse of more to come

By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Rafa Benittez is relishing his Liverpool side being placed on weekly football rations for the next month.

After the gruelling Christmas and New Year programme, the Reds have only one midweek fixture in the next month, with uninterrupted preparations for next Sunday's trip to Old Trafford and the FA Cup journey to Portsmouth.

The Reds boss believes the breaks will benefit his improving side.

After Saturday's 1-0 win over Tottenham, he explained: "We have a better position now because we have one game a week which means we can train and we can recuperate.

"If we can play at this level and approach every game with the team really fit we will see at the end of this month what our situation is."

Victory over United would see Liverpool leapfrog them into second place in the Premiership. But even with two games in hand Benitez refused to accept his side was currently the second best in the country.

"We are playing well and we are winning games, but I don't see all the games of all the other teams," he said. "I like how my team plays and I like to see the team improving.

"I don't look at the league table. I don't think whether we can be second or not. I just think about the possibility of winning another three points.

"The most important thing is not to be capable of winning just one match, like at Manchester United, but to be capable of winning a lot of games.

"We are playing as a serious team now. It was difficult through the middle today so we tried to play wide."

Harry Kewell was Liverpool's matchwinner, with his first goal for more than a year. But Benitez believes the classy strike in front of the Kop could unlock the floodgates.

"When a player plays every week he is normally happy," he explained. "He is playing well and now he is scoring goals like this I think he will be even happier.

"He is working hard and for me he deserved to score a goal like this in front of the Kop.

"I would like to see him score more goals now. Sometimes when I use him as a winger it is difficult for him to score a lot of goals, but when he plays as a second striker he is closer to the goal, which is how we changed it at the end when we pushed Riise forward.

"Harry has the quality to score goals and now he has confidence it will be easier for him.

"It's important to have midfielders scoring goals as well as strikers. It's difficult for the other team then.

"They pushed Tainio all the time on Xabi and we couldn't play, so we switched Gerrard and when we have midfielders getting into the box as well as strikers it is more difficult for the opposition."

Goodbye to plan G as Reds share it out

Analysis by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo

Harry Kewell's laserguided left foot gave Steven Gerrard the day off on Saturday.

The Reds skipper still played against Tottenham, but this time he was spared the responsibility of doing just about everything bar locking the Shankly Gates on his way home.

That was the most reassuring aspect of Steve Finnan's precise cross and Kewell's crashing finish which finally unlocked the Spurs' defence.

The Reds showed that when plan G fails, they do have a plan B to fall back on.

Sponsors Barclays hand out a revealing fact sheet before every Premiership match.

The Liverpool-Spurs preview underlined the influence Gerrard has on his side.

Liverpool's top scorer? Steven Gerrard. Player with the most shots? Gerrard again. Most shots off target? Yes, him again. Most assists? Steven Gerrard. Most crosses? Steven Gerrard.

The only stat he didn't feature in was getting caught offisde the most, Djibril Cisse claiming that dubious distinction.

The mark of a truly great team is the ability to score goals from many different areas. Which is why the sight of a right-back crossing for a left-winger to finish will have given Rafa Benitez a warm glow on Saturday night.

That decisive strike kicked off a meaningful month in Liverpool's season with a win.

Magnificent though their recent run of results has been, it has largely been compiled against sides from the lower strata of the Premiership.

When they travelled to a then top six team - Bolton - they drew.

But on Saturday they faced a side motivated by the knowledge that they could leapfrog the Reds with an Anfield win.

Spurs looked a genuine top six team, but there was no doubt that Liverpool were deserving victors.

With Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all on the horizon before the Champions League restarts, results in those matches will offer an acid test of just how good this Liverpool team really is.

Only Manchester United currently stand between them and runaway leaders Chelsea. But even that obstruction could be removed at Old Trafford next Sunday.

Which leaves the argument, where does Steven Gerrard stand in the pantheon of truly great Anfield players?

Twice last week I was asked "Is Steven Gerrard now Liverpool's greatest ever player?"

I said no. But then I did witness the mercurial majesty of one Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish in his prime.

Other fans might project the claims of Ian Rush, Billy Liddell . . . Kevin Keegan even. But the fact that the question could even be asked without scoffing showed just how immense the captain's influence is on this side.

The fact that he wasn't called upon to stage another solo salvage act on Saturday underlined the growing variety and menace of Rafael Benitez's team.

A highly regarded European manager was asked last week whether he had made special arrangements to deal with Gerrard when the team he managed had faced the Reds.

He said not. The only threat opposing managers had to worry about then, he explained, was Michael Owen. Stop the supply to Owen, and you stopped Liverpool playing.

The same argument cannot now be used in relation to Gerrard.

"I think people saw in the first half our midfield was as good as theirs," said Martin Jol. "Xabi Alonso had a quiet game and I don't think Steven Gerrard was as good as normal, so the things we worked on came off."

Yes Martin, but you still lost. Which underlines the multi-dimensional threat from a team which is still in the process of being built.

Perhaps Steven Gerrard can enjoy another afternoon off soon . . . but not next Sunday.

Jol praises Spurs display

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Tottenham boss Martin Jol praised his side's display against Liverpool - but admitted they could not have stopped Harry Kewell's wondrous winner.

Kewell banged in the winner in the second half and Spurs had no answer, especially when Paul Stalteri was sent off three minutes from time for a professional foul.

Jol said his side had played well against The Reds and had fancied their chances of a rare win at Anfield going into the game.

"It is hard to stop a goal like that," admitted Jol.

"We worked hard and played well and apart from one chance that Peter Crouch had in the first half, we were not really in much trouble.

"We could maybe have been a bit better up front and (Robbie) Keane missed a very good chance for us just after the break. If that had gone in the result would have been different.

"But all credit to Harry Kewell, it was a special goal struck well and there is not much you can do about that.

"But we had plenty of possession and the key when you come to Anfield is to keep the crowd quiet. We achieved that for long spells.

"We kept (Xabi) Alonso quiet and Steven Gerrard was not as good as he can be. That shows how hard we had worked in our preparation, but you can't work at stopping unbelievable shots like Kewell's."

Jol said that he had fancied going to Anfield and getting a result, in what was their biggest game for years with the chance to go into third place in the table with a win.

"We felt beforehand that this could have been our day, we have been playing well and we had a strong side on the pitch.

"It was out biggest game for years because we had the chance to go into third, but it was not to be on the day, although I thought we did really well."

Rafa full of praise for goal hero Kewell

Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez was full of praise for Harry Kewell as his stunning winner gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur and said he deserved it for his hard work returning to fitness.

Before his winner against Spurs Kewell's last goal at Anfield was November 2003 against Birmingham City and Benitez feels he is now almost back to his very best.

Benitez said: "If you want to win a game 1-0 then that is the kind of goal you want to score. For Harry it was important to score in front of the Kop after his problems last season and it was the perfect finish. He deserved it and it was amazing to see Harry score the goal he is capable of at the Kop.

"Harry is training well every day and repeating games. He hasn't had pain and he is playing at the level we saw before he had the problems."

On the match itself Benitez praised his team's worth ethic and togetherness against a good opponent in Tottenham Hotspur.

"This was a very good win for us and it was difficult against a good team who played well," added the Reds manager. "They had a lot of the ball and had a clear chance at the start of the second half from our mistake, but we kept going and had some good chances.

"We didn't play fantastic football today but the team is more mature now to win games like this and work hard and play as a team," he said.

Kewell stunner sinks Spurs

By Paul Higham - Sky Sports

Harry Kewell signalled his continuing resurgence with an imperious volley proving enough to give Liverpool a 1-0 win over Tottenham at Anfield.

A high quality match was aptly settled with a moment of sublime individual brilliance from the Australian, who continues to suggest he can finally produce the goods for The Reds after his lengthy injury problems.

Kewell's first goal in 13 months was well worth the wait as his second half screamer was good enough to win any match, and it gave Liverpool their eighth straight win at home to move them to within a point of second-placed Manchester United with two games in hand.

Peter Crouch had the first opportunity of the match after just nine minutes when Steven Gerrard's free kick from the right found him unmarked at the back post, but he planted his header straight at Paul Robinson's body, before the keeper collected at the second attempt.

Fernando Morientes was close to connecting with Gerrard's cross three minutes later, but a stretching Michael Dawson just did enough to stop him getting an effort in on goal.

Gerrard again crossed from the right on the half hour for Morientes, and the Spaniard's looping header hit the crossbar with Robinson scrambling. The rebound fell for Crouch but he mis-hit his attempted volley.

Spurs had played some good football but had rarely threatened, and they were pegged back towards the end of the first half as Liverpool put on the pressure.

Gerrard's free kick from the left nearly brought a breakthrough seven minutes from time, as Dawson had to hack the swerving cross away from almost on the line with Robinson struggling.

Martin Jol sent his Spurs side out for the second half in a much more positive frame of mind, and they started much brighter as a result and should have taken the lead after just three minutes of the restart on their first serious attack of the match.

Jermaine Jenas caught John Arne Riise out on the edge of the box, and his cross found Robbie Keane in acres of space barely six yards out with just Jose Reina to beat, but he placed his effort woefully wide.

Spurs' attacking intent was clear to see as they attempted to swarm all over Liverpool, but it was The Reds who were to take the lead in spectacular circumstances just before the hour mark.

Steven Finnan's deep cross from the right floated over Crouch but Kewell arrived at the far post to meet the ball with a thunderous volley which flew past Robinson in the blink of an eye to put Liverpool ahead.

Spurs nearly fashioned an instant response when Mido chested down inside the box before striking first time at goal, but Reina produced a smart save to palm the ball away.

Riise looked to emulate Kewell when he let fly with a rocket from Gerrard's corner, but his goal-bound effort deflected off Sami Hyypia.

Spurs lost all hope of rescuing a point three minutes from time when Liverpool broke away with Kewell before he was brought down by Paul Stalteri and, as the last man, he was sent off by referee Dermot Gallagher.

Keane did have a late chance seconds before the end but he shot wide from the edge of the box, with the final whistle going to hand Rafa Benitez's Liverpool their 11th win in 12 games, and their eighth straight victory at Anfield - all achieved without conceding a single goal.

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Thor Zakariassen