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What a start!

Posted on 16 August 2009  - 12:00

Season 2009-10 kicked off in perfect fashion with a 2-1 opening day victory over title contenders Liverpool at The Lane.

What a start!

Season 2009-10 kicked off in perfect fashion with a 2-1 opening day victory over title contenders Liverpool at The Lane.

Sebastien Bassong was the hero on his full debut, heading home the winner on 58 minutes just over a week after joining from Newcastle.

It came just moments after a Steven Gerrard penalty had cancelled out Benoit Assou-Ekotto's memorable opener - his first Spurs goal and definite Goal of the Season contender already!

Victory gave us our first opening day three points in four years, meaning excitement about the coming campaign could not be any higher after the first game.

In recent weeks there had been all the build-up and discussion among fans that one would expect at this time of year, like who would make Harry Redknapp's starting eleven for the first game of the league season?

Much of the talk had centred around who the front pairing would be since the summer arrival of Peter Crouch, and whether it would indeed be a front two or not with so many attacking options available to the manager.

In the end, the partnership that emerged from the White Hart Lane tunnel at 4pm was the same that started the final game of last season against the same opposition at Anfield - the in-form Jermain Defoe and captain Robbie Keane.

Crouch started the game among the substitutes, along with fellow summer arrival Kyle Naughton, meaning only Bassong made a full Spurs debut on the day.

Liverpool injury doubts Gerrard and Jamie Carragher both made Rafa Benitez's starting eleven, and on a typically sun-drenched opening day, we had a mouthwatering contest on our hands.

After all in attendance at The Lane paid their respects to the late, great Sir Bobby Robson with a heart-rendering minute's applause, the new season was underway.

An early clash of heads between Liverpool centre-back pairing Carragher and Martin Skrtel may have shaken the visiting defence a little, but we had to wait until the half-hour mark before our first real opportunity.

Wilson Palacios' deep cross from the right found Luka Modric, and with the outside of his boot the ball was flicked into the six yard area where an unmarked Keane could only find opposing goalkeeper Pepe Reina with his point-blank header.

The Irishman quickly looked to make amends, and moments later he was again put through by Modric, only again to be denied as he tried to lift the ball over the on-rushing Reina.

From the resulting corner, Defoe headed just wide at the near post, but it was clear we were up and running - it seemed only a matter of time.

Keane was to have another good chance on 41 minutes when Tom Huddlestone found him in space with a header, only for the striker to lash a first-time strike high and wide from the edge of the box with space in front of him.

And so it was left to a full-back who, after 151 professional appearances and no goals, was perhaps the most unlikely source from which we were to open our account for the season.

Assou-Ekotto's strike, however, was one even some of the most accomplished goal-getters would have been proud of.

And what a time to get it, on the stroke of half-time, as Huddlestone's free-kick rebounded off the Liverpool wall, the Cameroon international took one touch before rifling an unstoppable 25 yard shot into Reina's top right-hand corner, sending the home crowd into raptures. What a way to get us off the mark!

The atmosphere at The Lane became something reminiscent of the closing stages of last season, when we looked unbeatable at our famous home.

Another reminder of that time was a stirring run by our player of 2008-09, Aaron Lennon, just after the break. He was eventually held up, but the confidence was flowing.

It could have been easily been knocked out of us by Gerrard moments later when his 25 yard grass-cutter whistled just past Heurelho Gomes' post.

But it was still Spurs who were in the ascendancy, as Palacios proved when he forced Reina into a fine tip over his bar with another 25 yard shot on 53 minutes.

So any goal would have been against the run of play at this point - but that is so often the nature of the Premier League at its finest.

Out of nothing, Glen Johnson marauded into our box from right-back, getting past Assou-Ekotto and knocking the ball past Gomes before being upended by the goalkeeper.

Gerrard stepped up to knock home the resultant spot-kick, and it was briefly back to square one for Redknapp's men. What was to follow proved how much character and belief his side possess.

Modric curled in the free-kick from the right, Bassong leapt highest to plant his header firmly beyond the reach of Reina. Another new name on our scoresheet, and three goals in the space of 15 minutes - what a game!

Keane tested Reina again with a long range shot on 65 minutes, but that was to be his last action of the game as Crouch entered in his place, adding yet another dimension to an already gripping encounter.

But speaking of strikers, let us not forget the ever dangerous Fernnando Torres at the other end, who up until the 71st minute had been somewhat quiet. He climbed highest to meet Johnson's right-wing cross six yards out, but did not connect well with the header.

Equally threatening is of course Gerrard, but Ledley King did enough to put him off putting powerful contact on a shot at goal one minute later.

The same man did just enough to stop a Gerrard ball getting through to Torres in the box, while Assou-Ekotto did well to halt substitute Andriy Voronin's burst into the box in the last 10 minutes as Liverpool exerted the pressure.

But we weathered the late storm, as the three points were more than deserved. Hull away next on Wednesday - football is back!


Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes, Corluka, Bassong, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios, Modric (O'Hara, 83); Defoe (Pavlyuchenko, 90), Keane (Crouch, 67)
Subs not used: Cudicini, Hutton, Naughton, Bentley

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel (Ayala, 74), Insua; Lucas, Mascherano; Kuyt (Voronin, 78), Gerrard, Babel (Benayoun, 67); Torres
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Dossena, Kelly, Spearing