Reds after battling win
By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez has praised the battling qualities of his
side after watching them secure an excellent 1-0 victory
Luis Garcia's goal in first half stoppage time was enough to
see the Reds clinch their third away victory of the season
as they bounced back from their Boxing Day disappointment at
Spurs made Liverpool work all the way for the points and
Benitez was delighted to see his players standing up to a
tough challenge at a rain sodden White Hart Lane.
"I thought it was a fantastic team performance," said the
Reds' manager. "When you lose a game like we did at
Blackburn then you want to see character from your players
and we had that today.
"We played well in the first half and scored at a very good
time, just before the break. In the second period Tottenham
played more long balls and put us under pressure, but the
work rate of the side was first class.
"The defenders dug in, Xabi played well in front of them,
the midfielders tackled and fought and Kuyt and Bellamy
worked for every minute they were playing.
"We knew before the game that the result would be important
because Tottenham were close to us in the table and we
wanted to stay ahead of them.
"We have lost many away games this season despite having
more attempts than our opponents. Maybe today was the game
where we didn't quite have as many opportunities but still
managed to win the match."
Benitez revealed Craig Bellamy was substituted early in the
second half as a precaution after feeling a tightness in his
hamstring and that Jerzy Dudek wasn't included because his
wife gave birth last night.
Jol down at
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Tottenham chief Martin Jol felt his side were unlucky not
to get anything from their game with Liverpool.
Liverpool left White Hart Lane with all three points after a
1-0 win courtesy of Luis Garcia's first half goal.
Tottenham rallied late on in search of an equaliser, but
Liverpool held on to record their third victory away from
home this season.
"I think we did (deserve something)," said Jol. "In the
second half we took all the initiative and although we
needed one or two substitutions I can recall four or five
situations where we could have scored.
"I think we deserved at least a point in this game, but it
was not to be."
Jol was unhappy with Tottenham's defending for Garcia's goal
accepting it was always going to be difficult to break down
Liverpool after they went ahead.
"You cannot give away soft goals against a Liverpool side
who are very organised and try to hit you on the break,"
"You have to keep a clean sheet as we are always capable of
Jol also revealed that Ledley King was likely to miss
Monday's New Year's Day clash with Portsmouth through
King missed the defeat to Liverpool with a foot injury and
he will also be absent for the trip to Fratton Park.
"King had a bruised foot," said Jol. "It is nothing big, it
is a minor injury and we will have to make do without him on
Monday so it is a blow."
Garcia goal ends Spurs' home run
Luis Garcia scored on the stroke of half-time to earn
Liverpool a 1-0 victory and bring Tottenham's long run of
home success to a halt.
Spurs had won their previous 12 games at White Hart Lane but
were undone in first-half stoppage time when Liverpool took
advantage of poor defending.
Liverpool have been poor on the road this season - this was
just their third away win in the Premiership - but they
looked comfortable until the hosts started chasing the game.
Reds defender Steve Finnan hit his own crossbar, but
goalkeeper Jose Reina was largely untroubled until late on
when he beat a Jermain Defoe drive away.
Defeat dented Spurs' hope of breaking into the top six,
while Liverpool's victory gives them an ideal platform for
being in the Champions League places during the second half
of the season.
Spurs were without captain Ledley King, and his stand-in at
centre-half Calum Davenport had an unfortunate hand in
Without King, Spurs' defence looked less assured from the
opening exchanges - Lee Young-Pyo giving Paul Robinson a
dreadful back-pass with two minutes gone.
The England goalkeeper, captain for the day, scrambled clear
as Dirk Kuyt closed in, but the pattern of slack passing
continued from both sides.
Spurs fashioned the first real effort on goal. But Mido
flashed wide when he had plenty of time following a slip
from Jamie Carragher while under pressure from Steed
Defoe had a couple of efforts off target and had also been
caught marginally offside when Tom Huddlestone played him
behind the Liverpool defence, but it was the visitors who
applied the first spell of pressure.
Craig Bellamy forced Robinson into a low save after move
started by Steven Gerrard and helped along by Kuyt.
The Dutch striker, linked with a move to Spurs two summers
ago, then curled an effort just wide of the upright after
Bellamy had laid the ball back to the edge of the area.
Tottenham boss Martin Jol has always been an admirer of his
compatriot, and it was Kuyt who was soon a threat again -
trapping a poor kick from Robinson beautifully but having
his eventual effort blocked.
Xabi Alonso flashed a drive wide as the interval drew
closer, but the visitors broke the deadlock before the
whistle by taking advantage of Spurs' defensive frailty.
Gerrard robbed Didier Zokora before stubbing his shot into
the floor from the edge of the area. The ball was headed by
Davenport towards Luis Garcia, and the Spaniard had little
trouble finishing from the edge of the six-yard area.
Bellamy had a long-range drive saved by Robinson two minutes
after the restart, but it was the last action he saw and he
was replaced by Jermaine Pennant and headed down the tunnel
Zokora came off for Danny Murphy, a former Liverpool player,
just after Garcia had missed a glorious chance to double the
lead by directing his free header into the ground.
In the 59th minute, Jol answered the chants from the crowd
to introduce Dimitar Berbatov who replaced Mido. The
Bulgaria striker had been ill this week and was left on the
bench until the hosts needed to chase the game.
Reina fumbled a straightforward free-kick, but there was
little else for the Spaniard to do for the first hour.
Davenport diverted Pennant's cross into his own side-netting
as Liverpool went in search of another rather than sitting
They brought on Peter Crouch in place of Kuyt for the last
25 minutes, which also featured a storm as conditions got
Spurs almost grabbed a leveller when Berbatov's cross was
headed by Finnan against his own bar from point-blank range.
Malbranque then came close with a drive as the rain eased
slightly, while Hossam Ghaly sliced horribly wide from close
range as Spurs applied late pressure.
The visitors held on for victory. But Reina had to beat away
a drive from Defoe, and Berbatov had an effort ruled out for