Tottenham stayed fourth with a 2-0 victory over Fulham as Liverpool’s bid to rejoin the English Premier League’s elite group faltered further with a draw at Wolverhampton on Tuesday.
Peter Crouch and David Bentley scored to deliver Tottenham’s first league win in a month. While Liverpool did move up to fifth with a draw, Manchester City are a place behind and level on points with two games in hand.
At the start of the match at White Hart Lane, Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer had to be instantly alert as Spurs came close three times inside two minutes through Tom Huddlestone, Jermain Defoe and Crouch.
Schwarzer was finally beaten in the 27th minute when Crouch slipped the ball in from close range. The instigator was out-of-favor midfielder Bentley whose cross from the right was clipped over Bjorn Helge Riise by Luka Modric from the byline.
Modric then volleyed to Crouch, who found the net despite pressure from Schwarzer.
Bentley, on a rare league start, put Tottenham further ahead on the hour with his first goal in five months from a free kick that deflected off Riise’s head.
The victory enabled Spurs to move further clear of Liverpool in the race for the four Champions League spots.
On a freezing night in central England, Liverpool couldn’t find a way past Wolves in a 0-0 draw despite captain Steven Gerrard returning from a two-match injury absence and new midfielder Maxi Rodriguez making a first start.
Liverpool dominated the first half but found the home side difficult to break down and the closest the visitors came after the break was Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt striking speculatively from distance.
“We didn’t create clear chances and the final pass in the final third was the difference,” Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said. “In the second half they were pushing harder and we had to defend, but we still had some good counterattacks. Again the final pass was the difference. If you analyze the game, then the result is fair.”
In the battle against relegation, Owen Coyle’s Bolton moved out of the drop zone at the expense of Burnley.
Coyle said furious Burnley fans had chosen the wrong biblical character when they abused him for his decision to switch clubs earlier this month.
Coyle watched his Bolton side win 1-0 against the club he steered back to the top flight of English football last year for the first time since 1976 — a result that meant Burnley replaced local rivals Bolton in the relegation zone.
“It’s testament to the job I did there that they are so disappointed I left,” Coyle told Sky Sports when asked about banners amongst the 5,000 visiting fans labeling him Judas.
“In terms of what they wanted to call me, they were biblical with it, I think it was Judas tonight wasn’t it? Last year it was God but if they are going to be biblical I think it should be Moses because I led them from the wilderness,” he said.
Another banner recited a classic piece of Monty Python humor. “He’s Not The Messiah. He’s A Very Naughty Boy” it read, borrowing a line from the film The Life of Brian.
“They are a terrific set of fans and they back their team and they did that tonight,” Coyle said. “Nothing will change my feelings for Burnley Football Club until the day I die.”
Burnley’s defeat was their third in a row without scoring under new manager Brian Laws.
Bolton moved up to 15th, a point ahead of West Ham, who led at Portsmouth through Matthew Upson’s goal, before home substitute Danny Webber canceled it out with his first league goal to make the final score 1-1.