Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez returned after a nine-match absence but failed to inspire Liverpool to victory in a cagey 0-0 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Monday.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, who hoped to fly to the match after the end of the day’s court proceedings in his tax evasion trial, missed the game because of a technical fault that prevented his plane from taking off.
He did not miss a great deal of action but his team defended resolutely to leave Anfield with a point after failing to score in the league for the first time for 23 matches.
Spurs stayed third on 50 points, seven behind leaders Manchester City and five adrift of champions Manchester United. They also remained seven clear of fourth-placed Chelsea following their London rivals’ 3-3 draw with United on Sunday.
Liverpool, who remain unbeaten in the League at Anfield but have drawn eight of their 12 home matches, remained seventh on 39 points, one behind Arsenal.
Liverpool enjoyed more possession than Spurs but failed to seriously trouble the visitors, though manager Kenny Dalkglish was happy with the performance.
“I’m really pleased with the way the team played. We kept them under a lot of pressure. We just needed the bounce of the ball to go our way and if we’d have got one, I think we would have won it,” he told Sky Sports.
Tottenham assistant manager Kevin Bond, in charge at Anfield in Redknapp’s absence, told the BBC: “We had to work really hard and defend for our lives at the end.
“We didn’t create many chances but we had the best chance of the match five minutes before the end, and it just was not meant to be. For Gareth Bale’s chance, the goalkeeper stood up well and it was a big moment for us, but a point was a good result for us.”
Liverpool striker Andy Carroll had a good opportunity to score after 74 minutes but skied a half-volley over the bar while Suarez headed straight at former Liverpool keeper Brad Friedel from a free kick with his only real chance.
Suarez came on after 66 minutes following the end of his suspension which included an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in October and one game for giving Fulham fans the finger in early December.
Spurs’ best chance fell to Bale five minutes from time, but the Welsh midfielder hurried his shot and fired straight at Pepe Reina, one of the few attempts the Liverpool goalie had to deal with.
There were few real chances at either end and one of the highlights of the first half was when a cat ran on to the pitch and caused a short delay.