x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Premier League: Luis Suarez wins personal duel with Gareth Bale as Liverpool beat Tottenham 3-2

The Uruguayan edged the battle of the player of the year contenders as he scored and earned the match-winning penalty.

Luis Suarez edged the battle of the player of the year contenders as he scored and earned the match-winning penalty to eclipse Gareth Bale and keep Liverpool's slim top-four hopes alive.
Luis Suarez edged the battle of the player of the year contenders as he scored and earned the match-winning penalty to eclipse Gareth Bale and keep Liverpool's slim top-four hopes alive.

Luis Suarez edged the battle of the player of the year contenders as he scored and earned the match-winning penalty to eclipse Gareth Bale and keep Liverpool's slim top-four hopes alive.

The Premier League's leading scorer drew first blood with his 29th of the season - and 22nd in the top flight - and, although his opposite number had a hand in both of Tottenham Hotspur's goals, the Uruguay international had the last laugh by winning the late penalty from which Steven Gerrard scored.

Jan Vertonghen had scored twice after Suarez had put the home side ahead only for calamitous misjudgements by Kyle Walker and the goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to gift Stewart Downing the equaliser.

Suarez showed again just how sharp he is in the penalty area with an instinctive first-half finish and while Bale's danger was restricted to crosses he could not match his rival's threat in the penalty area.

Andre Villas-Boas, the Spurs manager, said the game turned on a couple of errors.

"We did well," he said in a post-match television interview. "We did everything so well to create some great opportunities but we could not control the game in the manner we wanted.

"I think the boys did well but for a couple of mistakes. It was a good performance. We can reflect on the things that we did but we are confident we can bring things together and go on another run."

Tottenham were unbeaten in 12 matches going into the game.

"We have suffered setbacks before and have jumped out of them," Villas-Boas said.

Bale drilled in an early swerving free kick which Brad Jones, back in the side because of Jose Reina's calf injury, batted away but then had to cede centre-stage to Suarez.

Philippe Coutinho combined well down left with Jose Enrique, starting the move with a cheeky back-heel. The pair then exchanged passes before Enrique, holding off Walker, slid a perfectly-weighted pass for Suarez to run on to and surprise Lloris at his near post with the outside of his right foot.

Bale's response was to plant one left-footed shot into the Kop and then drive an angled right-footed effort wide.

Suarez had been receiving particularly close attention from the visitors without much interest from the referee Mike Oliver but when Gerrard challenged for a header with Tottenham's flying Welshman the Liverpool captain was penalised by a free kick in the centre-circle.

Bale then contributed to the equaliser on the stroke of half time.

The ball was soon worked out to him on that flank and he curled a left-footed cross over the head of Jamie Carragher, on his 500th league appearance, for Vertonghen to get in front of Glen Johnson and head inside the far post.

Liverpool may have been aggrieved they did not get a penalty late in the half when Coutinho appeared to be pulled back by Walker as he tried to get on the end of a cross but they had conceded 10 minutes' of pressure to the visitors.

Bale played a part in Tottenham's second just after the break when his free kick was weakly headed down by Carragher to Vertonghen, who fired home.

A trademark driving run by the Wales international saw him pick out Gylfi Sigurdsson in acres of space at the far post but the Iceland midfielder's shot was deflected on to a post by Johnson.

Liverpool had lost all their composure and their disposition was not helped by Jones flapping at a Moussa Dembele shot but it was Tottenham's nerves which faltered next.

Walker attempted an inexplicable back-pass from the right touchline which succeeded only in drawing Lloris out of his goal to try to clear.

When he failed Downing nipped in to advance on goal and drill a shot through the legs of Vertonghen on the line.

The pace of the game went up a notch before another dreadful back-pass, this time by Jermain Defoe, forced Benoit Assou-Ekotto to barge into Suarez in the area.

Gerrard stepped up to slot home the penalty, his ninth goal of an increasingly profitable campaign.

* Press Association

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