Match Report by Max Munton
Two goals from Dirk Kuyt at either end of the match earnt Liverpool a priceless Premier League victory over Tottenham to move within sight of fourth spot in the league table.
The win could really reignite Liverpool’s season as they begin to chase back towards the top of the table.
Rafa Benitez welcomed back Albert Riera from a hamstring injury to include him in a five-man midfield, which looked more attacking than Saturday’s line-up against Stoke.
Alberto Aquilani also returned to the starting line-up, whilst Daniel Agger’s ongoing injury problems meant Martin Skrtel and Sotirios Kygriakos continued to central defence, with Jamie Carragher and Emiliano Insua anchoring.
Philipp Degen got another start in midfield alongside Javier Mascherano and Lucas Leiva, whilst Dirk Kuyt started as the lone striker.
And Kuyt got the Reds off to a flying start by giving them the lead just six minutes in.
In a lively start to the game, a dangerous cross into Liverpool’s penalty area almost spelt disaster. Kygriakos almost putting into his own net, but for the great reactions of Pepe Reina.
The lucky escape then turned into an attacking move for the Reds and Aquilani’s good control and ball in to Kuyt on the edge of the area was placed perfectly in past Gomes by the Dutchman as Anfield erupted.
With the Reds leading, Spurs began to chase the game, but Benitez got his tactics spot on with the defence snuffing out any momentum the visitors managed to muster.
As the first half came to a close, Liverpool began to have a bit more possession, winning a series of corners from which Kuyt went close again and Skrtel had a shot blaze over from an acute angle.
In almost the final kick of the half, Spurs exposed a gap in Liverpool’s defence and Kranjcar went through on goal only to see his shot comfortably saved by Reina.
Liverpool were left off the hook just moments into the second half when Jermaine Defoe had the ball in the back of the net at the Kop end.
A mix-up between Kyrgiakos and Pepe Reina let in the England international to slot home with ease, but he was then brought back for being offside earlier in the phase of play by referee Howard Webb.
Moments later Riera leapt high over Corluka to crash a solid header against the crossbar, before Jermaine Jenas’ rocket from long-range was tipped over well by Reina.
Maxi Rodriguez was given the last ten minutes, making his home debut for the club, replacing Riera.
Liverpool held on past a late wave of Spurs attacks to claim the massive victory, including a nervous free-kick from Gareth Bale that only got as far as the wall, whilst Degen, Ngog, Kuyt and Kygriakos all spurned glorious chances to double the Reds’ advantage.
And in the first of five added minutes, Ngog was brought down under a challenge by Bassong. Kuyt stepped up and after seeing his first conversion ruled out by the referee for player encroaching, made no mistake with the second attempt.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it was a calculated and shrewd win that Benitez got tactically spot on as Liverpool didn’t dwell on their lead as they have done and been punished for so often this campaign.
The win moves the Reds to just one point behind Harry Redknapp’s men in fourth spot, with Wolves up next in the Premier League next Tuesday night and the buzz around Anfield at full-time suggested maybe, just maybe, the dark days are over.
Team Line-ups and Substitutions
Liverpool: Reina, Insua, Kygiakos, Skrtel, Carragher, Riera (Rodriguez 80), Lucas, Mascherano, Degen, Aquilani, Kuyt.
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Babel, Ngog, Spearing, Darby, Pacheco.
Tottenham: Gomes, Bale, King (Bassong 80), Dawson, Corluka (Hutton 62), Kranjcar (Keane 65), Palacios, Jenas, Modric, Crouch, Defoe.
Subs not used: Alnwick, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Dos Santos, Rose.
Referee: Howard Webb