Premier League - Lennon winner crushes Liverpool

Sun, 28 Nov 17:55:00 2010

Tottenham Hotspur moved up to fifth in the Premier League table after they beat Liverpool 2-1 in a thrilling match at White Hart Lane.

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Aaron Lennon scored a 92nd-minute winner to consign Liverpool to defeat on their first visit to London this season, after Martin Skrtel had scored at both ends.

Skrtel scored the opener in the run-up to half-time to put the Reds in front after an open first half with plenty of chances.

The Slovakian then beat his own keeper midway through the second half, not long after Jermain Defoe had missed a penalty.

After that leveller, the match could have gone either way, but Lennon became the injury-time hero with his first goal of the season.

The result means that Spurs move above Bolton in the table following their fourth straight win, while Liverpool remain 10th.

The Londoners have now come back from losing positions to salvage 16 points this season, more than any other side.

Rafael van der Vaart returned for Spurs after missing the midweek win over Werder Bremen, but he lasted just 11 minutes before his troublesome hamstring forced him off.

The Dutchman was replaced by Defoe, who could have scored when Pepe Reina parried Luka Modric's cross right to him, but Jamie Carragher was in the right place to block the close-range effort on the line.

Fernando Torres seemed more determined to set up Maxi Rodriguez than go for goal himself, and the Spaniard laid on several good opportunities for his Argentine team-mate.

Maxi fired wide after nine minutes before Torres ran at William Gallas and squared for the midfielder, who forced keeper Heurelho Gomes into a decent save with his 20-yard strike.

After the loss of Van der Vaart, Spurs were further weakened by the withdrawal of defender Younes Kaboul with 10 minutes of the first half remaining after he jarred his knee blocking a Torres shot.

After Gareth Bale had fired a 42nd-minute free-kick wide from 35 yards, Liverpool went up the other end and won a set piece in a similar position.

Raul Meireles's delivery was met by Skrtel's header, which rebounded off the back of David N'Gog and back to the feet of the defender, who reacted quickest to prod home for only his second Liverpool goal, and his first since last November.

Liverpool could have been two ahead before the break were it not for some unforgivable indecisiveness from Maxi. Torres played him through with a skilful reverse pass but the former Atletico Madrid attacker wanted one touch too many inside the area and the ball ended up in the arms of Gomes.

Sebastien Bassong, who came on in place of Kaboul, twice thwarted Torres either side of half-time with well-timed challenges as the Spaniard bore down on goal.

Both sides were clearly desperate for the win. Liverpool were looking to avoid a third-straight loss at White Hart Lane and draw level on points with the side who have taken their place in the Champions League. Had they won, they would have put themselves level on points with Spurs, despite their early-season travails.

Tottenham, meanwhile, were eager to press home their newly-enhanced reputation, having beaten local rivals Arsenal and reached the knockout stage of the Champions League in the past week.

The improving Meireles came to the Reds' rescue when Reina pawed away a Lennon cross and Bale's volley was blocked on the line by the Portuguese.

David N'Gog gifted Spurs a penalty on the hour-mark when, just as Cesc Fabregas had done last weekend, he handballed as he blocked a free-kick.

Defoe stepped up to take the spot-kick, but he joined Van der Vaart, Bale and Roman Pavlyuchenko on the list of Spurs players who have failed to convert from 12 yards this season.

The home side were unperturbed, however, and soon they were on terms when Luka Modric glided through three red shirts and played a dangerous ball across the six-yard box for Crouch.

Skrtel was pressed into action, but his attempted clearance only succeeded in steering the ball past his own keeper, which is usually the sole preserve of Carragher in this fixture.

That goal meant that, this weekend, every single team had scored in one round of matches for the first time in the Premier League.

With 20 minutes remaining Liverpool had a genuine shout for a penalty of their own when Benoit Assou-Ekotto's rash challenge on Dirk Kuyt went unpunished.

Defoe had a goal disallowed in the last few minutes of normal time as he was offside when he lashed a strike home on the turn, but the winner would soon arrive for Tottenham.

Assou-Ekotto sent forward a long free-kick that Crouch flicked on for Lennon. Paul Konchesky failed to react quickly enough to the speedy winger's run and Lennon hit a strike that Reina was unable to keep out.

Lennon almost got a second right before the final whistle as Liverpool committed everyone forward, but the dramatic win was already assured.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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