Villas-Boas refuses to blame players for loss

PREMIER LEAGUE

LIVERPOOL 3 vs TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2

TOTTENHAM manager Andre Villas-Boas refused to blame individual errors for his side’s first league defeat in 2013.

A brace from defender Jan Vertonghen cancelled out Luis Suarez’s opener for Liverpool, but Spurs imploded and gifted goals to Stewart Downing and Steven Gerrard from the penalty spot.

The last Premier League defeat Villas-Boas’s team suffered was also on Merseyside, a 2-1 loss to Everton on 9 December, and the Portuguese coach would not criticise his players.

“Moments like this can happen and you can’t be negative to the players who did so well on a 12 game unbeaten run,” he said.

“But it’s a pity we lost control of the game when things looked to be going our way. Hopefully this setback can serve as an example to move forwards.”

Suarez scored his 50th goal for the Reds on 21 minutes after latching on to Jose Enrique’s pass and finished first time past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris at his near post.

But the visitors levelled on the stroke of half-time when Vertonghen outjumped defender Glen Johnson to head home Gareth Bale’s cross from six yards.

Spurs flew out of the traps in the second half and moved in front after the Liverpool defence failed to clear another Bale cross and Vertonghen finished with aplomb to grab his third goal in two games.

Midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson missed a golden opportunity to seal the points for the visitors when his close-range shot struck the outside of the near post.

Minutes later, Kyle Walker’s aerial backpass towards Lloris, from just inside his own half, fell woefully short and, as the French stopper raced from his line, Downing nipped in to steal possession and slot in the equaliser.

And Spurs were architects of their own downfall again on 82 minutes when Jermain Defoe inadvertently played Suarez in on goal with an overhit pass backwards and defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto bundled over the Uruguay striker.

Gerrard sent Lloris the wrong way from 12 yards to earn Liverpool a fourth straight win.

“For us to get three points and show that level of character was fantastic,” said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. “I am delighted for the players.