Liverpool home, 30.12.06

Last updated : 01 January 2007 By SpursMAD

John Cross, Daily Mirror: Hossam Ghaly was poor.

It was a disappointing first half but Liverpool were always on top with the outstanding Kuyt and Bellamy running the Tottenham defence ragged and Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard outstanding.

The goal was no more than Liverpool deserved. Bellamy limping off upset Liverpool's dominance and yet they rarely looked in danger, largely due to Jamie Carragher's towering defensive performance.

It was a bitter defeat for Tottenham, which put their season and aspirations in stark perspective.

Alyson Rudd, The Times: Liverpool created fewer chances than usual and scored a rare scrappy goal.

The disgruntled home fans then spent half-time seemingly hatching a plan. As Liverpool opened the second half with more zest and purpose, Tottenham supporters frantically chanted for Dimitar Berbatov to come off the bench.

Jol had planned to use him for ten minutes or so because the striker had been ill with a high temperature the day before, but in the end he played for half an hour and nearly snatched an equaliser, but Tottenham missed the creativity of Robbie Keane and Aaron Lennon.

David Miller, Daily Telegraph: Tottenham and Liverpool were robustly intent, in pursuit of a top-four Premiership place, firstly on preventing the opposition from playing, secondly on snatching at such brief openings as might intermittently flicker into view.

Liverpool proved to be marginally the better on both counts, and deserved to win despite an energetic rally by Spurs over the last 20 minutes. Yet the spectacle was largely so artless that many neutrals will have yearned for a Gary Lineker or a Kenny Dalglish to add a touch of sophistication.

here was functionalism at its least appealing: perhaps inevitable with the stress of two games in five days and a third awaiting today.

Steven Gerrard, MBE, flung himself into incessant challenges in the rain-drenched possession battle that surged from penalty area to penalty area — and too infrequently into either.

By half-time a collective week's wages of £1 million or so had produced one shot worth the name.

The scene, if not the weather, brightened in the second half and Liverpool enjoyed a spell in which they should have put any Tottenham recovery beyond reach.

The strange replacement of mobile, menacing Kuyt by pedestrian Peter Crouch found Liverpool reduced to prosaic proportions.

Though conspicuously missing the craft of Ledley King at the back and Aaron Lennon up front, Spurs mounted a lively if technically limited revival.

Spurs manager Martin Jol then pushed Davenport into attack, which is about as fruitless an exercise as was Danny Blanchflower long ago sending forward barn-door Maurice Norman. Lacking guile in midfield as Tom Huddlestone tired, Tottenham resorted to the defensive bombardment of Liverpool with 50-yard mortars.

Jermain Defoe was extinguished by Liverpool's all-encompassing back line.

The ambition to play football starting from the back sorely requiresd the touch of King. Yet there will be days when Tottenham play worse and win. Below full strength, Tottenham lacked the power still evident in Liverpool's ranks.

Kevin McCarra, The Guardian: This was an opportunity for Tottenham to smash through the glass ceiling and leave Liverpool picking shards of glass out of their wounds. In the event the game showed that bursting into the elite is not necessarily about comparing skills and sophistication with a leading club. Saturday's match called more for doggedness as the winter rain mounted its onslaught on the White Hart Lane surface. Liverpool played to a more dependable standard and were the masters of durability all afternoon. There was a humility about them, with Steven Gerrard disregarding his MBE and acting like a member of the labouring classes as he worked busily in the mud. In addition Jamie Carragher, competitive and resourceful, did more than anyone to stymie a Spurs comeback.

Dirk Kuyt showed all his brightness and mobility while Craig Bellamy was equally lively. Spurs were aided when the latter was taken off as a precautionary measure because of a tight hamstring, but the damage had been done by then and Jol's side had inflicted it on themselves.

There had been a fatigue-tinted carelessness about Spurs before the interval, with Tom Huddlestone starting to realise the disadvantages of being a first-team regular, but the midfielder rallied thereafter and so did the players around him, even though the line-up was not at its strongest. Robbie Keane's unpredictability continued to be missed.

Illness had stoked the Bulgarian's temperature to 39.7C on Friday and it was surprising that he could look as if he was on fire in a different sense when he came off the bench to vex the Liverpool defence. Before that Mido, pressed into service, had appeared as lacking in fitness as the manager knew him to be.