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Chris Armstrong slams home a winner

Chris Armstrong slammed a first half winner to give Tottenham fans some much-needed New Year cheer and dent Liverpool's Champions League ambitions.

Spurs, who have been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons, began 2000 in perfect fashion with a deserved home victory over one of the Premiership's form teams.

Liverpool, who were starting to be talked about as possible title dark horses, went into the game without injured strikers Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen - and they desperately missed their cutting edge up front.

Tottenham have already ignominiously turfed out of three cups and are being plagued by dressing room rumblings involving star players like Darren Anderton, with the club accused of a lack of ambition.

But Armstrong provided the perfect tonic as he walloped the winner in an entertaining game in constant drizzle at White Hart Lane.

The goal brought a sigh of relief from Armstrong, who also missed a number of other chances - including no less than four headers from David Ginola crosses.

French polish

Spurs, with Ginola an inspirational force on the left, started the game in a positive frame of mind - but Armstrong twice headed wide after searching centres from the French winger.

Armstrong and Spurs were rewarded for their persistence, though, with a stunning goal mid-way through the first half.

Another Ginola break sparked flutters in the Liverpool defence and Vegard Heggem could only half-clear the ball to Armstrong, who lashed a 25-yard drive into the top corner for his 50th goal for the club.

The goal gave Spurs renewed confidence and minutes later they thought they had gone further ahead, Sol Campbell heading home from a Ginola set-piece - but the effort was ruled out for offside.

Titi Camara offered Liverpool's most potent threat, but after his shot was parried by Ian Walker, the ball broke to Stephen Gerrard, who could only hit the side-netting from eight yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Liverpool dominated the closing stages of the first half, but Dietmar Hamman sent a fierce free-kick just wide.

See-saw second half

Both sides had their chances after the break as the action switched from end to end on a slick surface.

Walker was forced to deny Camara and Vladimir Smicer, while Westerveld turned away Ginola's raking drive and was relieved to see Armstrong squander another chance.

Armstrong was looking more confident on the floor than in the air and he almost made it 2-0, but after taking the ball around Westerveld, his shot was hacked around the post by Heggem.
With both keepers in the thick of things, the best save of all came when Westerveld athletically palmed away a Steffen Iversen header.

As Liverpool desperately pushed on in search of a late equaliser, Smicer sent a swerving effort the wrong side of Walker's far post from 25 yards out.

There was no way back for the Reds, though, as Spurs hung on for victory.

Copyright - BBC

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