By Arun Nair – (@Nair_39)
Liverpool were left frustrated after a dominant display against Tottenham was left unrewarded as the home side gained a narrow victory in a pulsating encounter at White Hart Lane. Goals from Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale secured the win, with the Reds reply, an own goal by Bale, proving the only consolation.
Tottenham began the game full of gusto. Gareth Bale forced a save from Pepe Reina with a powerful free kick, with the goalkeeper grateful to his defenders for stopping Jermain Defoe from converting the rebound.
Bale drove wide from an angle, before creating the opener with his next foray forward. His pace took him past several weak challenges, and his cross was turned in at the far post by Lennon.
Luis Suarez had a low shot saved and Jordan Henderson – under heavy pressure from Kyle Walker – missed an open goal from 20 yards as the Reds pushed for a reply.
But it was Spurs who added a second. Clint Dempsey won a free kick under minimal, if any, contact from Henderson, and Bale’s free kick left Reina motionless as the ball nestled in the net.
Liverpool were adamant they should have been awarded a penalty as they responded to going two goals down. Steven Gerrard burst into the area before tumbling under Moussa Dembele’s challenge, and referee Phil Dowd waved the Reds appeals away, while Suarez poked the loose ball goalwards only for Walker to charge back to clear off the line.
The away side probed for a goal to get them back in the game, but unfortunately most of the chances fell to Jose Enrique, whose general play was impressive but finishing askew.
The Reds dominated the second half for long spells, with Spurs unable to pose the same kind of threat that had brought two goals early on, but still couldn’t find a goal. Enrique was wasteful when well-placed, twice his final ball lacking. Unfortunately, for all the possession, Liverpool hadn’t unduly troubled Hugo Lloris in the Spurs goal.
A welcome stroke of luck saw them pull a goal back. Sub Jonjo Shelvey’s corner was flicked on by Daniel Agger towards Gerrard whose header was destined for the bottom corner before Lennon intervened. However, the winger could only watch as his attempted clearance comically hit his teammate Bale and ricocheted into the net while the Welshman fell to the ground clutching his face.
The goal buoyed the Reds, who continued to push for an equaliser, roared on by their travelling support. Suarez blazed over on the volley, before Enrique fired narrowly wide from distance.
After the anguish of not being given a penalty earlier on, both Rodgers and Liverpool were furious to see a strong penalty appeal turned down when William Gallas’ challenge sent Suarez over in the area. They continued to press, but a combination of ill-fortune, throughout the match, and good defending meant that the Reds left White Hart Lane empty-handed after a performance that warranted so much more. A feeling that has become all too familiar in recent years, but Reds fans will be optimistic that this problem can, and will, be eradicated.