Tottenham leapfrog Liverpool into fifth after a 2-0 win at Anfield
All things, good and bad, come to an end, and Liverpool's charge up the table under Kenny Dalglish's revivalist management was halted by what was only Tottenham's second win in 14 games. As a result, Spurs replace Dalglish's team in fifth place in the Premier League, with one match to play, and must be favourites for the questionable privilege of qualifying for next season's Europa League. A much improved performance by Harry Redknapp's charges brought deserved success, the goals coming from Rafael van der Vaart, from distance, and a contentious penalty tucked away by Luka Modric. The home crowd arrived ready to celebrate Dalglish's permanent appointment on a three-year contract, but were quickly silenced when Spurs took the lead after eight minutes. Modric's corner from the right was cleared by Martin Skrtel only as far as Van der Vaart who, 25 yards out in the inside-left channel, scored his 15th goal of the season with a dipping shot into Pepe Reina's top left corner. Suddenly it was the Tottenham supporters making all the noise, welcoming back injury-plagued Ledley King, for only his fifth appearance of the season in the Premier League, with choruses of: "Oh Ledley Ledley, he's only got one knee, he's better than John Terry". Their hero responded with a vital challenge to dispossess Andy Carroll in the act of shooting as Liverpool pressed for equality. To their credit, Spurs passed their way into a cohesive rhythm, with Modric at the fulcrum, and when Liverpool did fashion a decent chance, Jay Spearing fired wide. Carroll was more culpable after 38 minutes, when Skrtel's cross from the byline on the right picked out the £35m man at the far post where, unmarked, he headed horribly over from barely three yards. Maxi Rodriguez was fortunate to escape a booking for diving when he went to ground in the penalty area under no contact from Younes Kaboul. When they came under intermittent pressure, Tottenham were well served by the resolve and positional excellence of King and Michael Dawson at centre-half. Luis Suarez was too close for Carlo Cudicini's comfort with a free-kick from 20 yards just before the interval, but the wind was taken out of Liverpool's sails when Spurs doubled the margin nine minutes into the second half with a dubious penalty, awarded when Steven Pienaar went down under John Flanagan's challenge. Dalglish and company had two complaints with the award: One: that the coming together was shoulder to shoulder and two: that the incident occurred just outside the box. Be that as it may, Howard Webb waved away their objections and Modric drilled the kick hard and straight past Reina. Liverpool hurried and scurried in search of the goal that would bring them back into it, but were restricted to long range potshots, Spurs holding out without great difficulty for an overdue win.
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