Liverpool 0 Tottenham 0
Luis Suarez’s long-awaited return from suspension could not inspire Liverpool to victory over Tottenham at Anfield.
The Uruguay international, having served an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, had not played since Boxing Day.
And although he gave his side another dimension when he appeared as a second-half substitute, he could not end six weeks’ of frustration with a decisive intervention, missing a golden chance from close range late in the game.
As can be expected with Suarez, his 24-minute cameo was not without incident. He was booked for kicking Scott Parker in the stomach when attempting a close-range volley and also felt he should have had a penalty for handball when he had in fact used his own arm to control.
However, Tottenham left Anfield seemingly satisfied with a point, as while the home team were enjoying having Suarez available again the visitors were missing their absent manager.
Harry Redknapp had been due to fly to Merseyside after another day in Southwark Crown Court at his trial into charges of cheating the public revenue, which he denies, but technical problems with his aircraft meant he was left stranded in the south of England.
Redknapp’s absence was not an alien situation for Spurs as the 64-year-old missed three weeks in November after undergoing a heart procedure.
Whether the late change of plans affected his team would only be known inside their dressing room but Liverpool threatened as early as the fifth minute, only for Michael Dawson’s perfectly-judged challenge to nick the ball away from Andy Carroll inside the penalty area.
Steven Gerrard drilled a free-kick into the wall and, after play was interrupted briefly when a cat ran on to the pitch, Dirk Kuyt planted a header wide from Charlie Adam’s free-kick only for the offside flag to go up.
Niko Kranjcar’s long-range effort was the only save Jose Reina had to make in the first half as Spurs’ attacking was curtailed.
The same was not true at the other end as Jay Spearing struck the stanchion behind the goal with a strike from long distance, Craig Bellamy’s free-kick failed to beat the massed defensive ranks and Glen Johnson’s cross-turned-shot had Friedel throwing himself to his left to parry the ball.
Johnson, switched to left-back because of Jose Enrique’s hamstring injury, was involved at both ends. After deflecting Kyle Walker’s shot wide, his own swerving effort was batted away by Friedel in the last action of the opening half.
Tottenham’s flying winger Gareth Bale had been kept quiet by a combination of Kelly and Kuyt and he switched to the right flank early in the second half.
That at least allowed the Wales international to cut in on to his favoured left foot and drill a shot narrowly wide.
Bale then prompted an angry reaction from Daniel Agger with an obvious dive, having kicked the ball too far ahead of him, but the Welshman’s decision to shove the centre-back in the chest earned him a booking.
His screwed shot from inside the penalty area at a Tottenham corner then brought jeers of derision but Kelly’s effort at the other end impressed the Kop as Friedel tipped behind.
But that cheer was not as big as the one which rang out in the 66th minute when Suarez got the call to replace Kuyt.
The Uruguayan’s first touch was to rob Benoit Assou-Ekotto on the touchline which helped win a corner that Carroll headed straight at Friedel.
Suarez was then booked for booting Parker square in the midriff as he tried to volley a ball dropping in the area.
Carroll should have put his side in front with 16 minutes remaining when Kelly’s cross dropped to him but he blasted his half-volley into the Kop.
Skrtel was booked for a studs-up challenge on Bale despite connecting with the ball and not the player, who had Spurs’ best chance of the game five minutes from time when he was put clean through.
Reina did enough to block his initial shot and the danger was cleared.
Suarez had a chance to win it after that but headed straight at Friedel from Gerrard’s free-kick, while fellow substitute Stewart Downing fired over from range.
The draw did little to help Liverpool’s bid for a finish in the top four, or Tottenham’s title chase, but having failed to produce their familiar brand of attacking football the visitors would maybe consider that a point gained.