After The Match 

            

Liverpool-Tottenham 2-0 (1-0)         20.1.10                        PL
Goals: Kuyt (6, 90+3 pen)
Team: Reina, Carragher, Insua, Kyrgiakos, Skrtel, Degen, Mascherano, Lucas, Riera, Aquilani, Kuyt
Subs: Ngog (Aquilani 79), Rodriguez (Riera 81), Darby (Degen 90)
Not used: Cavalieri, Babel, Spearing, Pacheco
Yellow: Mascherano (39), Lucas (82)
Jenas (27), Bale (34), Palacios (50)
Red: None
Referee: Howard Webb
Attendance:  42,016
TEAM STATS
Shots on target: 5-3
Shots off target: 8-2
Blocked shots: 1-5
Fouls conceded: 11-17
Corners: 2-3
Offsides: 2-5
Possession: 45.1-54.9
Yellow: 2-3
Red:


 
0-0
HEADLINES  "...I think the combination of Kyrgiakos and Skrtel did well."
Rafael Benitez
2301: Clearing the air has been
          a boost for Liverpool FC

2101: Lucas laughs off two-man team tag
2101: Carragher praises Liverpool attitude
2101: Sammy: Spurs win was for you
2001: Rafa's reaction to Spurs win
2001: Kuyt double lifts Liverpool  



Kuyt celebrates his first goal with Degen.
(Photo: Getty Images)

JANUARY 23
Clearing the air has been
a boost for Liverpool FC


Comment by John Aldridge - Liverpool Echo

All the stories that came out regarding a dressing room bust up during half-time against Reading have been a good thing.

Whether it was trivial or whatever, something has gone on. Iíve seen it loads of times at various clubs.

For me, itís positive when things come to a head. It shows people care.

Johnny King had a cracking saying at Tranmere; ĎDonít let things fester under the carpet.í

Heíd say if you keep on brushing things under the carpet they start to stink.

Things need to be out in the open, so whatever it was at Liverpool, and whoever was involved, there has been a reaction and the air has been cleared.

For me, that has contributed to the effort the lads have put into the last two games. Why that didnít happen before, I donít know, but at least itís started to turn.

We went missing in the FA Cup against Reading but thereís been an improvement in the league since Aston Villa.

Weíve got 10 points out of the last possible 12, which could easily have been all 12.

Thatís a good sign, especially when you consider weíve been missing Torres and Gerrard for the last two games, plus we havenít been playing well.

But now the lads seem to be knuckling down and having a good go. Thatís what people want to see. You could see the reaction of the Kop against Tottenham when the tackles started going in.

Jamie Carragher epitomised everything we need from the team; running through brick walls. That gets everyone up for it and gets everyone pulling together.

People have said that Rafa has lost the dressing room. The response of his players says otherwise.

They need to keep it going until the end of the season.

Weíve got a massive month ahead with Wolves away and then Bolton before the derby, Arsenal and Manchester City.

Weíre right back in with a chance of getting fourth place so youíd hope we donít put any more pressure on ourselves going into some of these games.

With the way City are now, and with Tottenham and Villa in there, itís going to be tight.

But we seem to be getting back to winning games and playing a bit better, plus a couple of clean sheets and itís suddenly looking much brighter.

Striker still a priority for Liverpool

While it was good to see Dirk Kuyt rise to the challenge in Fernando Torresí absence against Spurs, Iím still concerned about the lack of strikers at the club.

It remains a problem position.

Weíve got to go and find another striker before the transfer window closes.

Iím not sure we can see it through with what weíve got.

Kenwyne Jones would be a good addition, plus Iíve spoken before of someone like Kevin Davies who could provide what we need.

Young David Ngog looked lost at Stoke playing up front on his own. Thatís what youíve got to do with Rafaís formation but he was like a fish out of water.

He did OK when he came on in midweek against Spurs Ė winning the penalty Ė but thatís at home.

If Torres is out we need someone who knows the ropes, a player who can get a few goals but also allows others to play around him.


JANUARY 21
Lucas laughs off two-man team tag

TEAMtalk

Midfielder Lucas Leiva has called on his Liverpool colleagues to prove they are better than the "two-man team" tag given to them by critics.

Injuries to striker Fernando Torres (knee) and captain Steven Gerrard (hamstring) have deprived the side of their best two players for six and two weeks respectively.

In truth the pair have been struggling all season and Liverpool's stuttering campaign has been largely attributed to their under-performance and unavailability.

Torres and Gerrard have not featured in the last two matches - a morale-sapping last-minute 1-1 draw at Stoke and Wednesday night's 2-0 victory over fellow top-four contenders Tottenham.

Injuries also meant Yossi Benayoun, Glen Johnson, Fabio Aurelio and Daniel Agger were all missing on Wednesday night.

In their absence there has been a noticeable rise in commitment from the rest of the squad and Lucas thinks that will be crucial to their hopes for the future.

"Now it is time for other players to show we have quality," said the Brazil midfielder.

"We have heard a lot that Liverpool are a two-player team and of course we will miss Stevie, Fernando, Yossi and Glen because they are brilliant players.

"But we cannot have them so we have to play with our squad - and yesterday we worked really hard."

Lucas has been vilified in some sections for lacking the necessary quality to play alongside the likes of Torres and Gerrard but has played in all but one of Liverpool's league matches this season.

Having made his 100th appearance against Spurs the 23-year-old is starting to finally grow into the player manager Rafael Benitez thought he would when he bought him from Gremio in July 2007.

And Lucas is keen to prove his detractors wrong by continuing to fight for his place despite £20million summer signing Alberto Aquilani's gradual progress towards full match fitness.

He added: "It is normal when you don't get results that you get criticism. The Reading defeat (last week) was a catastrophe because we wanted to stay in the FA Cup.

"To be honest I cannot stop it. I have to keep going. If I listened to the criticism I wouldn't play here anymore.

"I just have to keep going and work really hard. The critics will be less if we keep doing well.

"Our record in the last four games is 10 points so that is positive.

"We know this season has been not so good but we have to keep this momentum and attitude.

"February will be a massive month for us so hopefully we will keep the same attitude.

"We will be there for sure, fighting for the top four."


JANUARY 21
Carragher praises Liverpool attitude

BBC Sport Online

Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher believes the Reds are showing the right attitude in their bid for a Champions League place after the win over Spurs.

The Reds rose one place to sixth with Wednesday's 2-0 win and are now one point behind fourth place.

Carragher told BBC Radio Merseyside: "We realised we had to come together and show everyone what we're about.

"It's important to show when you don't play well we're still fighting for the club to get the right result."

And the Reds vice-captain expects plenty more points to be dropped in the battle for the top four.

He said: "Last year we were going for the title and our rivals were winning every week.

"With the little league we're in at the moment, it's not like last year where we had to win every game. There will be a lot of points dropped.

"You never know what's going to happen and how the other teams are going to react.

"The Europa League may play a part, as some of the other sides are not in Europe. That may come in to it as well.

"I'm just going to enjoy that we've had a good result. Hopefully that will give everybody a bit of confidence and we can move on."


JANUARY 21
Sammy: Spurs win was for you

By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website

When the team coach arrived in Anfield Road ahead of kick-off the players and staff on board were greeted by hundreds of passionate Kopites - and the Reds' assistant boss admitted the players were touched by their show of support.

"Every three points is crucial but considering what has been happening this week in the build up to the game this was massive," Lee told Liverpoolfc.tv.

"Everyone realised that, the staff, the players and all the supporters and everyone involved in the football club.

"There is not enough praise for our supporters. To see them showing their support when we arrived was massive. We try to intregrate our supporters into everything we do because they are part of what we are doing.

"It was really emotional for us to see them singing and supporting us as always. The players certainly appreciated it. Pepe Reina came up to me in the dressing room and he was very emotional. He said this wouldn't happen at any other football club and it meant a lot to everybody.

"We had a difficult game away to Stoke last weekend and the support for us was phenomenal. They saw the effort the lads put in and it was the same against Tottenham.

"Everybody played their part in this victory."

Dirk Kuyt gave Liverpool the perfect start when he netted after just six minutes and Lee agreed it set the tone for the victory.

"It was a great start for us and some great build-up play between Dirk and Alberto Aquilani," he said. "It was a very difficult chance and Dirk made it look easy when it wasn't."

His second came from a twice taken penalty in stoppage time and Lee added: "That just shows the strength of the boy and Dirk has got a great character.

"To step up to take the penalty and have to retake it showed great courage.

"Hopefully we can take a lot of confidence from this victory. With that win we have put ourselves in fighting distance of the top-four.

"We have to make sure we take great heart from this. We have another difficult game at Wolves next Tuesday."

Since the defeat at Portsmouth Liverpool have taken 10 points from a possible 12 and Lee believes it's a sign that things are starting to improve for the team.

"We need to keep this momentum going," he said.

"Winning breeds confidence and if we can keep doing that then who knows? We are not making any false promises apart from the fact that we will make sure everyone goes out onto the pitch with the determination to win every game.

"We like to think we are heading in the right direction now. Nothing is won or lost at this point of the season and we know what we need to do."


JANUARY 20
Rafa's reaction to Spurs win

By James Carroll at Anfield - LFC Official Website

Rafael Benitez paid tribute to Dirk Kuyt after the Dutchman's double downed Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Wednesday evening.

The 29-year-old put the Reds on their way to the 2-0 victory with a sixth minute opener against the top four hopefuls.

And Kuyt displayed great composure to secure the three points when he netted a penalty in second half injury-time at the second time of asking after referee Howard Webb had ordered the striker to retake his initial kick.

"He was working very hard and maybe he could have scored four today," Benitez told reporters at his post-match press conference. "His commitment is always 100 per cent, so we are pleased for him.

"He has experience and has scored a lot of goals in Holland and here. Normally Gerrard will take our penalties, but he can do it well too."

The victory over Tottenham moves Liverpool to within a point of Harry Redknapp's fourth placed side in the Barclays Premier League.

Benitez believes the timing of Kuyt's opening goal proved a key factor in the result.

"It was important for us to score," he said. "Tottenham were playing well and I think we were not in control of the game in the first half - but we still had the better chances.

"After the first goal, they had to go forward and it made space for us. It was good for us because they had to take some risks.

"It was an important win for everyone here because we knew we had to reduce the gap and stay in the race, so I am really pleased with the players.

"They showed the same attitude, effort and team spirit as against Stoke and also real character."

He added: "It is always important to win games for confidence, but especially when you have to reduce the gap against a good team.

"The game against Stoke was very difficult, but we could have won, and this one was the same but we won.

"The players know the way to do things is to keep working hard as tonight, and sometimes you need a bit of luck too."

Benitez also reserved words of praise for trio Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Martin Skrtel and Philipp Degen.

The Spaniard admits he was delighted with the character shown by his squad in the absence of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Yossi Benayoun and Glen Johnson.

"It is difficult to stop Crouch and Defoe, so I think the combination of Kyrgiakos and Skrtel did well," added the boss.

"I said before, the squad is not as bad as people have said. Today we were without six players, but the rest of the squad showed character.

"We have to be pleased because everyone was working hard and the players who have not played too many games did well."

Asked by reporters whether he felt Liverpool would be stronger in the second half of the season, Benitez replied: "I think so. It is a question of having all of our players available and if we don't have them, at least we have seen the other players work like they did tonight.

"Over the last five years, we have normally been better in the second half of the season.

"Everybody knows Liverpool are a good team. It is question of winning games and showing our quality."


JANUARY 20
Kuyt double lifts Liverpool

Sky Sports

Liverpool boosted their UEFA Champions League hopes with an impressive 2-0 victory over Tottenham.

The Reds were full of energy in the early stages and opened the scoring after just six minutes when Alberto Aquilani played in Dirk Kuyt and the Dutchman provided a fine finish from outside the area.

Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the first half as Tottenham struggled to find their usual fluency, although Pepe Reina had to make a fine save from Luka Modric just before the interval.

Jermain Defoe had a goal controversially disallowed at the start of the second period and from then on Liverpool contained the Londoners expertly.

Rafa Benitez's side missed several opportunities to double their advantage before Kuyt eventually secured the points with his second goal of the night.

The striker scored from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time after substitute David Ngog had been brought down by Sebastien Bassong.

Appreciative Anfield
It was a match the Reds could not afford to lose, having dropped two points thanks to Stoke's late equaliser on Saturday, and they did not disappoint an appreciative Anfield crowd.

There was a brief early scare when Reina spilled a Gareth Bale cross under pressure from former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch, but he reclaimed the ball bravely from the challenge of Defoe.

Reina picked himself up to hoist a long kick downfield which Kuyt knocked back to Aquilani, playing in the hole behind the striker.

The Italian's close control took him past Michael Dawson, who brought down the playmaker, but the ball rolled to Kuyt on the edge of the penalty area and he fired low past Heurelho Gomes' right-hand to give his side the lead.

Jermaine Jenas was booked in the 27th minute for bringing down Philipp Degen as he raced over the halfway line but Liverpool failed to make the free-kick count.

And moments later Defoe was lucky to escape with just a talking to from referee Howard Webb after diving in and standing on Degen's foot.

The Swiss international was on the end of yet more rough treatment in the 34th minute when Bale clashed heads with the makeshift midfielder, which led to the Wales defender being cautioned.

Javier Mascherano became the first Liverpool player to be booked when he lost possession and then slid in on Crouch.

In first-half injury time Kuyt's header from Albert Riera's inswinging corner was stopped by Bale yards from the line and Martin Skrtel blazed the rebound over.

Moments later Modric's shot was saved well low to his left by Reina.

Pressure
Liverpool have made a season of failing to hang on to leads and they almost gifted Spurs an equaliser straight after the restart.

Sotirios Kyrgiakos dithered on the ball before surprising Reina with a short back-pass which immediately put the goalkeeper under pressure from Defoe.

Defoe put the ball in the net Fortunately for the Spaniard the Tottenham striker was adjudged to have been offside in the initial phase of play.

Wilson Palacios was next to go into Webb's notebook for pulling down Lucas as he attempted to run through the Spurs defence on the halfway line.

Riera almost doubled Liverpool's lead in the 52nd minute when his header from Jamie Carragher's cross beat Gomes but crashed back off the crossbar.

Considering their recent habit of conceding in the last minute the hosts desperately needed a second goal to give them a cushion but the longer the game went on without one the more confident Spurs became.

The danger was highlighted when Jenas' first-time shot from 25 yards had Reina going the wrong way before he stuck out a hand to deflect it behind.

Having sent on Alan Hutton for Vedran Corluka, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp then replaced Niko Kranjcar with ex-Reds striker Robbie Keane.

Liverpool should have made it easier for themselves in the 66th minute when Degen opted to play in Kuyt instead of shooting and over-hit his pass.

Liverpool continued to press and Kuyt volleyed over at the far post after Degen had flicked on Aquilani's free-kick while Riera was just wide with a 25-yard swerving left-foot shot.

Spurs, however, continued to threaten and Hutton's spectacular volley curled around the outside of Reina's right-hand post.


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