Torres 31, Hutton 64 og, Benayoun 81.
So it was, despite everyone’s hopes and expectations, a season without a twist. No twist at the top as the Mancs matched us win for win in the run in and kept us at arms length and no last day twists or great escapes as the bottom clubs kept losing!
Newcastle’s relegation was no surprise, they were by far the worst side we faced this season and they now through simply not being good enough, on and off, the pitch,
find themselves in a division which belies their following. Will they bounce back? It’s not guaranteed ask Southampton, Charlton and Norwich. And what of Michael Owen? Surely there will be a twist here?
So to our game which was simply a case of seeing out the season? Chelsea needed to score a hat full whilst we had to lose by a similar amount in order for us to relinquish second place. Neither happened. Was today an end of season kick about? Spurs needed the win to have any chance of a European place however, if smoke signals from White Hart Lane are anything to go by, this wasn’t a burning priority.
Rafa’s line up suggested he wanted to end the season on a high note. It was strong. Sami, who was playing his last league game for us before leaving for Bayer Leverkusen deservedly got a tribute from The Kop that fully justified his contribution to the club over his ten years however, for now, and despite rumours he would start as captain, he had to be content to view the show from the bench.
The first chance came from Aurelio’s corner which was nodded back by Srktel and sliced over by Benayuon who tried to make the most of a loose ball that would have tested even the most talented of contortionists! However, around the half hour mark an error by Assou-Ekotto enabled us to work the ball out to Kuyt whose cross was headed in off the underside of the cross bar by Torres. A simple but significant strike as it was Torres’ seventeenth of the season and fiftieth for the club. A milestone that was achieved in eighty four games and, it says here, was achieved quicker than Rush, Fowler and Owen!
After that there never seemed to be any doubt about the result and you know when the seriousness is not quite there when players, having had a shot on goal turn away and smile. For their part the crowd seemed more intent in chanting for Rafa to bring on Sami!
We kept up a steady trickle of chances, Benayoun and Srktel before Kuyt’s stray shot was courteously helped back on course and into the net by Hutton’s boot. Gerrard hit a post from an acute angle and drilled one wide after a great surging break from defence by Agger. Then what many had predicted from the moment he left us in January happened, Robbie Keane scored. Thankfully the fears that it would be a decisive goal and would have a say in our 2008-09 destiny proved unfounded. How did Keane feel when he scored? One couldn’t really tell but the celebration… well there wasn’t one.
Any hopes of Spurs getting something from the game were ended by Benayoun whose shot thanks to Gomes despairing hand trickled over the line after excellent work by Gerrard who out witted Zokora with a superb nutmeg. As the curtain started to be drawn Gerrard unleashed a trademark free kick that just evaded Gomes left post. However, before 2008-09 post mortem’s started, there was time for the biggest cheer of the day as Sami finally came on for the final five minutes. Said Rafa
“I was trying to keep Sami on the bench until the last minute but I couldn’t because the fans were pushing me. Working with Sami for five years I know he is a fantastic professional and hopefully he will do the same in Germany and then come back to us. Clearly he will have a position with us in two or three years if we’re still here. But it’s a little bit emotional and a little bit sad today.”
The Finn nearly added his own twist, or tribute with a powerful header that was only just swatted away by a flustered Gomes. It would have been a fitting end to the season and a fitting goodbye to a great, great Red.
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Agger, Skrtel, Aurelio, Mascherano, Alonso, Kuyt (Riera 66), Gerrard (Hyypia 84), Benayoun, Torres (Ngog 78).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Lucas, Insua, Degen.
Tottenham: Gomes, Hutton, Corluka, King, Assou-Ekotto, Modric, Zokora, Jenas (Bentley 40), Bale (Bent 78), Defoe (Pavlyuchenko 70), Keane.
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Gunter, Campbell, Chimbonda.