Swashbuckling Drama Turns to Greek Tragedy; Owen's Injury Is Sorry End to Reds' Stirring Display
Byline: LEN CAPELING
THERE was no hint of the Greek tragedy that would unfold when Michael Owen, arriving late, imposed his electrifying presence on a Spurs defence, that, despite conceding what turned out to be the only goal, had done its job well.
Clinging, fairly comfortably, to Jari Litmanen's explosive strike from distance, which came on 56 minutes, Gerard Houllier nevertheless decided to freshen things up, initially replacing Robbie Fowler with Emile Heskey and then bringing on Owen for the fabled Finn.
It looked a masterstroke when Owen immediately carved huge holes in a suddenly twitchy Tottenham back four.
First, a dip of the shoulder, and a supercharged surge, took him past his floundering former team-mate Christian Ziege, and a dangerous cross was cut out with difficulty.
Then a carbon copy sprint left Chris Perry nailed to the turf and more panic ensued before Heskey just failed to connect with a knock-in at the far post as the Kop prepared to celebrate.
It was breathtaking stuff, with more to follow it seemed, as Owen set off at pace in pursuit of a tempting through-ball from Dietmar Hamann.
Leggy Spurs defender Ledley King stayed close enough to tangle with Owen as he attempted to flick the ball wide of the outrushing Sullivan, and the England striker crumpled.
We expected the new, restored Michael to spring to his feet. But he didn't. He stayed down, his hands clasped to his head, his face creased with pain.
"I knew what it was right away, " he said later, previous miseries having made his hamstrings twinges as familiar as the symptoms of a heavy cold.
It was a sad, sad end to a cameo performance which promised that the torture would be Tottenham's alone.
Instead, it ended in another in a long series of disabling, dispiriting injuries and the miserable trudge towards the waiting crutches.
England will miss him; so will Liverpool and that's more important to the Anfield supporters, who saw their team take too long to subdue an attractive Spurs team, who, twice, in a game of cut and thrust, created clear chances to silence the Kop.
After a mere 90 seconds, Les Ferdinand, hanging in the air over a Ziege corner from the right, saw his header hacked away from goal by the alert Barmby. Then Jerzy Dudek reacted well to keep out a shot from the impressive Gus Poyet.
Those two misses brought grimaces from Glenn Hoddle, who, although praising Jari Litmanen's thunderbolt - which twanged a post before exploding behind Sullivan into the net - also felt the need to add that on another occasion it might well have ended up in the crowd. …