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Gerrard edges Liverpool back into European race

ESPN staff
March 10, 2013 « Wembley dream put on ice for Millwall and Blackburn | Chartbeat test »
Steven Gerrard kept his cool to decide the contest with eight minutes remaining © Getty Images
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Liverpool prevented Spurs from taking another huge step in the pursuit of Champions League qualification on Sunday as they won 3-2 at Anfield, while a last-gasp goal from Papiss Cisse against Stoke City gave Newcastle crucial breathing room in the Premier League's relegation battle.

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Steven Gerrard's 82rd minute goal completed a remarkable 3-2 victory over Tottenham for Liverpool on Sunday, as the chasing pack was given hope in the race for Champions League football.

Spurs looked to be on the course for an important three points after Jan Vertonghen's second goal of the game shortly after half-time had seen Andre Villas-Boas's side overcome Luis Suarez's clever opener - but Stuart Downing took advantage of a Hugo Lloris mistake with 20 minutes remaining to restore parity.

Then, with just eight minutes remaining, the home side were given the chance to complete the turnaround and secure all three points after Suarez was bundled over in an ungainly challenge from Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Captain Gerrard stepped up, and made no mistake as he sent Lloris the wrong way to secure the win.

Liverpool, who moved up to sixth with the victory, are now nine points behind Spurs with nine games remaining.

Brendan Rodgers' side took the lead early on. Philippe Coutinho, who impressed last week at Wigan and had already curled a shot over, combined well down left with Jose Enrique, starting a move with a cheeky backheel.

The pair then exchanged passes before Enrique, holding off Walker, slid a perfectly-weighted pass for Suarez to run onto and surprise Lloris at his near post with the outside of his right foot.

Gareth Bale's response was to plant one left-footed shot into the Kop and then drive an angled right-footed effort wide

Bale provided the assist for the equaliser on the stroke of half-time. The ball was worked out to him on that flank and he curled a left-footed cross over the head of Jamie Carragher, on his 500th league appearance, for Vertonghen to get in front of Glen Johnson and head inside far post.

Bale played a part in Tottenham's second just after the break when his free-kick was weakly headed down by Carragher to Vertonghen who fired home.

Liverpool had lost all their composure and their disposition was not helped by Jones flapping at a Moussa Dembele shot but it was Tottenham's nerves which faltered next.

Walker's attempted an inexplicable back-pass/crossfield ball from the right touchline which succeeded only in drawing Lloris out of his goal to clear. When he failed Downing nipped in to advance on goal and drill a shot through the legs of Vertonghen on the line.

The pace of the game went up a notch and Sturridge headed into the side-netting and Bale nodded wide before another dreadful backpass, this time by Jermain Defoe, forced Benoit Assou-Ekotto to barge into Suarez.

Gerrard, so often Liverpool's big man for the big occasion, stepped up to slot home his ninth of an increasingly profitable campaign.

Papiss Cisse dragged Newcastle nine points clear of the relegation zone with a dramatic injury-time winner to see off Stoke.

The Senegal international struck two minutes into stoppage time to complete a comeback after the Potters had threatened to snatch victory at St James' Park.

Jonathan Walters had given the visitors the lead against the run of play from the penalty spot with 67 minutes gone, but Yohan Cabaye's superb free-kick six minutes later set the stage for Cisse's last-gasp winner.

The win was just what manager Alan Pardew had asked for to end a good week and while it was deserved on the balance of play in front of a crowd of 50,703, it looked like evading his side until the death.

Their task grew in size with 23 minutes remaining when, after Cheick Tiote had felled Walters with a rash challenge inside the box, referee Andre Marriner had little option but to point to the spot and Walters, whose recent record from 12 yards has been dreadful, duly obliged to give the visitors a lead they scarcely deserved.

However, the lead lasted barely six minutes as the game became increasingly lively both on and off the pitch. Moussa Sissoko was tripped by Whelan literally inches outside the box and after Mr Marriner awarded a free-kick, Begovic became embroiled in a row with Steven Taylor as the Stoke coaching staff took exception to Pardew's reaction on the sideline.

But once order had been restored, Cabaye curled the resulting free-kick over the wall and in off the underside of the crossbar to level.

There was even better to come deep into injury time when substitute Sylvain Marveaux picked out Cisse in front of goal, and he controlled and fired past the stranded Begovic to snatch victory.

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