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Press Association match report

 Resurgent Spurs clung on to claim their latest big-name scalp for new boss George Graham as Liverpool, outclassed for nearly an hour, almost snatched a point in a thrilling finale at White Hart Lane.

Gerard Houllier's side, badly lacking the midfield inspiration of injured Steve McManaman and suspended Jamie Redknapp, looked dead and buried when they trailed by two goals just four minutes into the second-half - and it could have been a lot more.

But Patrik Berger's superb free-kick, which curled into the top corner from 20 yards, turned what had been a one-sided match into an authentic drama of suspense in the last 36 minutes.

Both Tottenham goals had gone in off Liverpool players - with Robbie Fowler suffering a wicked deflection which turned Ruel Fox's low drive beyond the reach of goalkeeper David James in the 25th minute and a panic-stricken Jamie Carragher turning Chris Armstrong's cross into the net as Les Ferdinand lurked menacingly on the young defender's shoulder.

But Liverpool drew previously undiscovered spirit from Berger's spectacular reply five minutes later and there were chances for both sides to add to the scoresheet in a tension-packed last quarter.

Spurs, lifted by their midweek Worthington Cup triumph against Manchester United, soon suggested they would have the points parcelled up by half-time.

Armstrong, imbued with the confidence of four goals in his previous three games, frightened the life out of the Liverpool defence with his pace and aerial threats.

And although Post striker Steffen Iversen had to go off with a facial injury sustained when heading an offside effort beyond James in the 33rd minute, Les Ferdinand's appearance as substitute did not dilute Tottenham's supremacy up front.

Armstrong had twice gone down in the box, with referee Graham Ababa giving Carragher and Phil Babb the benefit of the doubt for reckless challenges, before Fox struck the opening blow which was well overdue.

Berger missed a great opportunity to put Liverpool back in it, firing wildly over the bar after a penetrating run through the inside left channel but it would have been an injustice had Spurs been dragged back on level terms by the end of the first half they dominated.

They doubled their advantage thanks to Carragher's own goal with a second period still in its infancy and that, effectively, seemed to be that.

However, when Berger's brilliant free kick, following a Fox foul on Fowler, flashed home there was a new complexion suddenly on the contest.

Liverpool went for it in a big way, bringing on substitute Danny Murphy for debut making teenager Steve Gerrard, to help Norwegian Vegard Heggem double the threat down the right where Heggem had largely diluted the threat of David Ginola.

After Berger's strike Spurs lived on their nerves for a long spell and Michael Owen almost squeezed home narrow-angled shots with the home defence fully stretched.

Then Fowler meeting an over hit right-wing cross beyond the far post somehow almost turned it back into the net passed Ian Walker and would have done but for Sol Campbell's instinctive intervention.

Graham's influence on the Spurs team was clear with Fox and Darren Anderton both doing trojan work in their own half and stemming the Liverpool flow.

But occasionally the gaps appeared and it took a marvellous tackle by Andy Sinton to prevent Fowler forcing home Murphy's centre.

Spurs also had their chances to put the match safe but Armstrong hooked the ball over after Anderson barged Paul Ince out of the way.

And Ince scraped the ball off his own line when Armstrong was about to force it in from Ferdinand prodigiously leaping a header.

Spurs just about deserved their victory to join Liverpool in the top half of the table but still needed a block by Campbell to rebuff Berger's ferocious folly which appeared goalbound just before the end.

Teams:

Tottenham: Walker, Carr, Nielsen, Fox, Anderton, Armstrong, Ginola, Iversen (Ferdinand 33), Sinton, Campbell, Young.
Subs Not Used: Baardsen, Calderwood, Scales, Clemence.
Goals: Fox 26, Carragher 50 og.

Liverpool: James, Staunton, Babb, Fowler, Owen, Heggem, Berger, Ince, Bjornebye (Murphy 75), Carragher, Gerrard (Thompson 55).
Subs Not Used: Friedel, Kvarme, Harkness.
Booked: Thompson.
Goals: Berger 55.

Copyright - Press Association


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