This was an exciting, incident-packed game which Tottenham Hotspur won, deservedly, with an aggressive second-half attacking performance which broke the resistance of an improved Liverpool side. Inspired by the Croatian conjurer Luka Modric in midfield, Tottenham put behind them a difficult first half in which Rafael van der Vaart was forced off with a hamstring injury and Younes Kaboul also had to be replaced.

The former player's replacement, Jermain Defoe, played a different type of game. He is an out-and-out poacher where Van der Vaart, who links well with his attacking colleague Peter Crouch when the ball is wide, also goes naturally into midfield to help Modric and Wilson Palacios, the Honduran whose erratic passing incurred the early wrath of the crowd here.

Initially, Spurs' speedy wide attacks, which led to some dangerous crosses, were dealt with bravely by Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel. Once Liverpool had cleared their lines, Lucas Leiva and Raul Meireles passed calmly and sensibly in midfield. And after taking the lead, Roy Hodgson's team should have scored a second goal through their quickly passed counterattacks. Maxi Rodríguez and Fernando Torres had good chances just before half-time.

Liverpool had been shown three first-half yellow cards; Harry Redknapp's problems centred on his use of two substitutes. With Torres struggling for good form and short of a top-class partner, Liverpool's counterattacks faded in the second half, but Hodgson would have been pleased with his team, who attacked when opportunities came and played with far more positivity than in recent weeks.

Liverpool look as if they are moving in the right direction but Tottenham have great self-belief and that turned the game in their favour in the last minutes, when their policy of hitting left-sided diagonal balls towards the lanky Crouch paid off (see diagram).

Sotirios Kyrgiakos, on for the injured Carragher, tried to outjump Crouch but mistimed his leap. Aaron Lennon sped past Paul Konchesky to score. It had been an enthralling contest, which Tottenham shaded in the second half.

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