For the first time in a long time, Spurs
dominated a match in terms of possession and territory, but not for the
first time, failed to make that pay as they slipped to a penalty
shoot-out defeat to a fresh-faced Liverpool team.
It is not a terrible indictment of the
players, but they lacked creativity and hardly troubled Dudek in the
Reds goal, despite being given the space and time to play by a very
young Liverpool side fielded because the manager Benitez rested a large
number of the regular starters. Spurs played an almost first
choice side, but leaving Defoe on the bench until after the hour mark
proved costly. The chances that were made were spurned and you
felt that had Jermain been on the pitch from the first whistle, he might
have snapped up one or two more.
Spurs started brightly and had early
openings which Ricketts and Kanoute both skewed wide enough to go off
for throw-ins !! Kanoute did manage to twist on a ball in the box
to rap a shot against the crossbar in the sixth minute, while the
precision balls through the red defence were just not accurate enough to
find their target. Man of the Match Ziegler was put in with one
ball that did find it's mark, but he couldn't, lashing his effort into
the side-netting, while Ricketts rose to get on the end of a fine right
wing cross from Fredi, but he tried to glance it in, rather than go for
power and the ball slipped off his forehead and slipped wide.
Robbie Keane was once more frustratingly
unable to finish, hitting Dudek's body as the Polish keeper rushed at
him following a scramble form a loose ball at a corner. It was a
disappointing half, but Spurs had strung some passes together, albeit in
areas of the pitch which would not hurt Liverpool. The Liverpool
side had hardly threatened the Tottenham goal, so when the ball bounced
loose once more in the box, Keano was on it like a flash, but, again
with Dudek at his feet, he hit the ball towards the goal and it flew
just the wrong side of the post. The Pole was the barrier to
Tottenham scoring in the 60th minute, as Robbie's volley from Fredi's
cross was powered down into the ground and the keeper dived up to push
the ball over the bar for a corner.
Paul Robinson was called into action, at
last, in the 72nd minute, as he kept out a Smyth effort at his near
post, while he was almost exposed when Anthony Gardner tried to dummy
the ball and slipped, letting Sinama-Pongolle through. However,
the Spurs man dragged him down to stop him getting away, with the ref
chasing up to him with card in hand. We all thought it would be
red, as the French forward would have been away, but it proved to be
yellow and Gardner was relieved to see that. He made amends a
little, with a diving block to deny Biscan, who drilled in a shot on the
edge of the box.
So, without being able to breach the
young battlers from Anfield, Spurs moved into extra time, as the night
Fredi almost repeated his early effort of
the first half, as he moved the ball onto his left foot and curled a
shot that flew a couple of feet wide of the angle of post and bar.
A minute later and it was Welsh at the other end, who almost produced an
action replay of Kanoute's effort, but it was lower and just flew wide
of the far post by inches. The second half started with Spurs
hitting some long range efforts at Dudek, but he was helpless in the
108th minute of the tie, when Michael Brown played Fredi on down the
right side of the penalty box. He turned his marker and looked up
to find Jermain pointing to the near post. That was exactly where
Kanoute placed the ball and Defoe got on front of his marker to fire
home, like he did on Sunday. It was a well-crafted goal and out of
keeping with much of Tottenham's work up until that point.
The lead was only kept intact by
Robinson's athleticism. With a header coming in from
Sinama-Pongolle, the England goalie turned the ball over the top from
just under the bar. From the resultant corner, the ball was played
in and Kanoute decided that he would stick his hand in the air and the
ref rightly pointed to the spot. The previously and regularly off
target Pongolle stepped up to bury the spot-kick past Robbo.
Hardly surprisingly, coming just three minutes from the end, there was
no real attacking intent after that as both sides settled for penalties.
The shoot out saw Spurs lose out again
and we are getting as bad as England these days !! Kanoute hit his
penalty well, but it was not near enough to the corner of the net and it
was at a good height for a keeper to save it. Then RObinson made
the save of the night, diving full length to tip Potter's kick onto the
post and out. Brown tried to put it out of the keeper's reach and
succeeded, but blasting it way over the bar. When Sinama-Pongolle
scored his second pen of the night, it was all over. WHen we heard
that Liverpool had drawn Watford, it was a double whammy. Just
what we needed !!
MEHSTG TOP MAN : - RETO ZIEGLER