In what was another of a long line of games Spurs have had to play after
shutting down for summer, Liverpool took two of the chances they
created, while Tottenham only had a couple in the whole game, resulting
in a 0-2 defeat, with much more interest being focused on what was
happening elsewhere on the last day of the Premier League season.
With the sun on their backs, it was a
perfect summer's day, but for Tottenham, it showed, once more, how far
they have to go to progress to challenge the top four.
The game was lost in poor passing and a
lack of urgency in the first half. Too often possession was given
away cheaply or passes were over-hit. With neither team having
much riding on it, neither side seemed too worried about putting in much
Radek Cerny looked as if he was out to
impress his new bosses (whoever they might be) at QPR, with a leaping
save for the cameras to stop Voronin's hooked effort and then saved a
routine shot straight at him from Babel.
Jermaine Jenas had a mare. His
passing was off target and he looked as though he was suffering with the
heat. I must admit, even though I wasn't running about, at times,
I felt like I was about to burn to a crisp !! But then he wasn't
alone. More of which later.
Tottenham's first threat on goal came on
the quarter of the hour, as Jenas made a run on the right, played the
ball to Berbatov and he back-heeled it across the goal area without
looking and Reina made it to the ball before Robbie Keane, who was some
way away. Ten minutes later, O'Hara sent a corner over and Berba
rose to head it at goal and Reina moved his feet well to get a strong
palm to the ball and knock it wide.
Referee Rennie was doing his best to let
the game go Liverpool's way, with Mascherano's foul on Hutton worthy of
a yellow card from most other officials. The Argentinian didn't
seem to do much, but prompted play and occasionally hit a pass out of
play !! When Babel hit a shot wide from 25 yards out, it summed up
the lack of quality shown in the first half.
The now obligatory draw for the Opus took
place at half time with Martin Chivers being the lucky celebrity.
Tainio was hurriedly called inside from warming up on the pitch and then
Huddlestone too, as Ramos took off Jenas (supposedly for an injury) and
O'Hara as a tactical move.
With Benitez moving things around without
making any substitutions, Liverpool often seemed to have four in attack,
but more often appeared to have eight in defence. Maybe that was
because Spurs players seemed less than willing to make forward moves and
thus were outnumbered too easily.
Almost immediately, Zokora was hit by a
Gerrard tackle and needed attention, but he managed to continue.
The Liverpool and England midfielder looked keen to get on the
score-sheet, hitting shots from almost any distance at almost every
opportunity. Five minutes after the interval, Cerny did well to
dive low and block a shot from Gerrard from inside the area. When
play got into the Liverpool area, Tainio went down under challenge from
Carragher, but the cries for a penalty were little more than hopeful
words, as Rennie did not show the slightest inclination to give it.
The crossing from Tottenham, especially
from set-pieces was very poor. Few made it beyond the first man
and when they did, they were just put into an area, rather than aimed
for a Tottenham head. It is something that will need to be worked
on once the management know who's head they have to aim for.
Tommy dinked a pass over the top of the
visitors' defence, but Keane wasn't able to collect it before Skrtel
nicked it off him, while Voronin failed to test Cerny too hard when
well-placed. Tainio would have been away down the right wing, had
Insua not cynically taken him out and then had the cheek to indicate to
the ref that it was his first tackle. Even Rennie wasn't going for
that one. Tainio's introduction in midfield saw him get into some
good positions, but fail to deliver a decent final ball ... again,
something he was not alone in. When Steed Malbranque, who had a
good game, took the ball from a poor Carragher pass, he drove it to
Keane and the ball across the box was intended as a shot despite his
protestations to Berbatov that it was intended for him (and Tainio
beyond him) to run onto.
Hutton was finding good space on the
right wing and was keen to get forward, but he does go down easily and
the ref thought so, when it was a foul by Insua again and he protested
too much in Rennie's eyes, so he got booked too. Seems like you
can foul but not complain !!
Cerny was having a quieter time of it in
goal, but Gerrard's 25-yarder landed on the roof of the net, with Cerny
having it covered, while Steed got on the end of Hutton's long cross at
the other end to strike a volley goal-wards. Unfortunately, it hit
a defender and went off for a corner.
But when this set-piece didn't pay off,
Liverpool broke away and Torres knocked the ball on, beating Dawson to
it, into the path of Andrei Voronin to steer underneath Cerny from the
edge of the six yard box to give Liverpool the lead, after he had held
Hutton off. They had probably been the better side, but that
wasn't hard with Spurs on post League Cup auto-pilot. But it was
such a cheap goal to give away. Two minutes later Voronin went off
with defender Steve Finnan coming on.
Spurs could have hit back, as Dimitar
Berbatov suddenly decided to take part in the match. Taking down
Tainio's through ball, he took a touch as Liverpool defenders backed off
and struck a dipping shot from inside the right hand corner of the box
and Reina arched up to tip it over the top.
It didn't help, as from the resulting
corner, Tottenham saw Liverpool sweep forward and the ball was fed left
to Fernando Torres. He is a strong young man and a direct runner
with the ball, so if Berbatov does go (which after a performance like
this it looks like he might and I hope he does with him not being
willing to put in a tackle to put at threat any move away from White
Hart Lane), please can we have someone like Torres to replace him ?
The Spaniard took on Dawson on the outside, but with the Tottenham
defender giving him too much space, Torres went left and prodded a right
foot shot under Cerny for the second goal. It was all too easy.
Dawson immediately made way for Bent and
Spurs dropped Keane back into midfield and moved Zokora in at the back.
Cerny needed to be sharp, as inexplicably, Alan Hutton headed a
Liverpool cross towards his own goal and the Czech keeper dived up and
across to grab it and save more blushes. Jonathan Woodgate had a
steady game and although he is slow, he gets back and makes up the
ground, which he did to rob Torres in the left wing position and then he
made a good block to a Gerrard shot in the area.
With 79 minutes gone, Torres got the ball
on the edge of the box and lazily lobbed a shot that caught Cerny off
his line and luckily for Tottenham bounced behind off the top of the
crossbar. With the game almost done, Gilberto finally strode
forward and knocked a cross to the far post, where Teemu knocked the
ball back into the area and Keane and Bent were both denied. Cerny
was still on his mettle, as he kept out Benayoun's drive and did enough
to put off Torres, as he tried to back-heel a low cross in at the near
post. Only a long range effort straight at him by Gerrard remained
to be executed and then it was all over for another season.
Too many players out there today were
going through the motions. I find it hard to accept that they were
playing to orders, because of they were, we have chosen the wrong coach.
We should show that we want to be winners by wanting to win every match.
Too often since the League Cup Final, the team look like they are happy
to take whatever comes their way, rather than making something happen.
With new players coming in, they will need to settle and it might have
been made easier, if the bulk of the team who are here now, had been
putting Ramos' ideas into practice.
But despite the poor nature of the game,
I can feel a little better, as I came out of the ground with a better
colour than I went in with. Mind you, it is an expensive way to
get a tan ... and how much more expensive we will probably find out in
the next day or so !!