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Premier League: Liverpool 3 Tottenham 2

Steven Gerrard netted a late penalty as hosts Liverpool fought back from a Jan Vertonghen double to beat Tottenham 3-2 in a pulsating match.

The Reds were rewarded for their early attacking when Jose Enrique fed Luis Suarez to coolly slot home on 20 minutes, but Spurs responded on the stroke of the interval with Gareth Bale crossing for Vertonghen to power home a header.

The Belgian scored again early in the second half to hand his side the lead, but Kyle Walker’s bizarre back-pass left Hugo Lloris horribly exposed with Stewart Downing on hand to steal in to level the match and Gerrard sealed the win from the spot with nine minutes left.

Brendan Rodgers’ side had the better opening with the first decent chance coming after six minutes; Philippe Coutinho put Daniel Sturridge clean through but his first touch was heavy in going around Lloris and the opportunity passed.

Spurs began to grow into the game with Mousa Dembele winning a free kick with fine dribbling after 11 minutes, and Bale’s swerving effort forcing goalkeeper Brad Jones – in for the injured Pepe Reina – to parry the ball away.

Shots were at a premium but once again Suarez proved his worth to Liverpool with a deadly finish. Wonderful work from Coutinho and Jose Enrique led to the Spaniard laying Suarez through, and the striker clinically toe-poked beneath the on-rushing Lloris into the near corner to give the hosts the lead.

Bale and Suarez’s form this season led to them being singled out for strong treatment throughout, with Gerrard cautioned for a full-blooded aerial challenge on the winger – and the Welshman would use the free-kick to Spurs’ advantage.

A prolonged spell of Spurs possession ensued, before Bale curled in a delightful cross from the right wing that Vertonghen confidently glanced into the bottom right-hand corner at the back post.

The Belgian defender proved his goalscoring form again eight minutes after the restart with an impudent half-volley to give Spurs the lead. Bale once again won and delivered a free kick which Jamie Carragher failed to clear, and Vertonghen struck home brilliantly from 10 yards.

Four minutes later the visitors could have had a third but for the post – Bale outpaced the Liverpool back line from the halfway line and found Gylfi Sigurdsson at the back post, but his shot deflected off of Glen Johnson onto the woodwork.

That missed proved costly as Walker inexplicably played a high back-pass from the right wing which curled away from Lloris, who raced from him line but couldn’t control the ball as Downing nipped in to slot between the legs of Vertonghen with 25 minutes to go.

Both sides searched for a winner but Spurs’ tiredness told as Jermain Defoe redirected the ball into Suarez’s path in the box, causing Benoit Assou-Ekotto to bundle the forward over and allow Gerrard to send Lloris the wrong way for all three points.

Sun 10 March, 2013
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