Tottenham 0 Liverpool 2
Liverpool striker Fernando Torres wrapped up victory at Tottenham to set a record for goals scored by a foreigner in his first season in the Premier League.
Torres’ goal was his 24th since arriving from Atletico Madrid, taking him past Ruud van Nistelrooy’s total when he arrived at Manchester United.
Andriy Voronin had opened the scoring at White Hart Lane as Liverpool ended their season on a high, while Spurs’ fizzled out as it has done since winning the Carling Cup.
Should this be a farewell to Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov, it was a subdued one, although perhaps not the game to bring the best out of him. Aside from Torres needing his goal, there was nothing significant to play for.
Spurs had a chance of moving up a place to 10th – earning an extra £720,000 in merit payment from the league – while Liverpool had already secured fourth.
Rafael Benitez’s season has appeared overshadowed by the power struggle behind the scenes at Anfield and a reminder of their problems was the sight of co-owner George Gillett in the directors’ box next to chief executive Rick Parry.
A tier below them was Benitez and Juande Ramos, two Spaniards looking to improve their respective teams.
Ramos wants to gatecrash the top four with Spurs, while Benitez wants a title challenge rather than playing in end-of-season sideshows when the main events of the day are elsewhere.
Benitez’s team selection appeared to point towards the players he wants to keep next season when Liverpool will try again for their first title since 1990.
Peter Crouch and Jermaine Pennant were left out of the matchday squad, fuelling uncertainty over the future of the pair in the summer.
There was little to choose from the two teams in the early stages, with Radek Cerny saving comfortably from Voronin, then getting stretched a little more when Ryan Babel found a yard on the edge of the area.
Berbatov produced an impish flick for the hosts in the penalty box, after Jermaine Jenas had cut in from the right, but no Spurs player was on the end of the move.
It was Berbatov who almost opened the scoring, in the 26th minute, jumping with Jonathan Woodgate and beating his team-mate to O’Hara’s corner. Jose Reina palmed the effort away at full stretch.
Steven Gerrard attempted to up the tempo from the centre-midfield, and the intensity was raised when Javier Mascherano clattered into Alan Hutton.
Uriah Rennie chose not to book the Liverpool midfielder, then Hutton escaped a caution shortly afterwards when he brought down Babel at the byline.
Torres almost broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half. Gerrard surged towards the penalty area and was brought down by Didier Zokora as he released Torres.
Play was allowed to continue and the Liverpool striker sent Cerny the wrong way with his finish, but the Spurs goalkeeper managed to save with his feet.
Cerny was called into action again in the 58th minute when the ball broke to Voronin on the edge of the area but the low shot lacked direction.
Gerrard was guilty of losing his radar with his passes and one error gifted the ball to Steed Malbranque in a dangerous position. The Frenchman fed Robbie Keane but the finish was dragged wide.
Reina then flicked a Tom Huddlestone cross off Berbatov’s head, while Gerrard had a couple of efforts, one straight at Cerny and the other dipping over the crossbar.
The deadlock was broken 21 minutes from time when Alvaro Arbeloa angled a long ball from right to left towards the penalty area. Torres flicked on with his head and Voronin poked past Cerny.
Berbatov almost replied immediately but Reina tipped over his powerful volley.
Then came Torres’ goal in the 74th minute, twisting and turning past Michael Dawson and slotting past Cerny. It could have got worse for Spurs but Cerny saved Hutton from an embarrassing own goal. Torres also grazed the crossbar with a chip.