Spurs and Reds draw in sweltering Baltimore
Playing a preseason exhibition on a sweltering afternoon in Baltimore, Liverpool and Tottenham were more focused on surviving than scoring goals.
The Reds and Spurs battled to a scoreless tie Saturday before 42,723 fans at the home stadium of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.
American goalkeeper Brad Friedel went the distance for Tottenham and preserved the shutout with a leaping grab of a shot by Martin Skrtel in the 54th minute.
Brad Jones played the first half in goal and Peter Gulacsi took over after halftime for Tottenham, which took just eight shots and put only one on goal.
"We played extremely well under these conditions," said Andre Avllas-Boas, who replaced Harry Redknapp as Spurs' manager after last season. "It was very, very hot. I understand for American sports this may not be something new, but for us to come from different conditions, it is very hard for the body to adapt to play at this level and intensity."
Liverpool appointed Rodgers as manager in June, and the Reds are in the process of adjusting their game to his style before their Premier League opener at West Bromwich Albion on Aug. 18. After losing an exhibition to Italy's Roma 2-1 on Wednesday night at Boston's Fenway Park, Rodgers was pleased with Saturday's draw.
"Of course we want goals. Everyone does. We all do," he said. "But whether it's a preseason game or a league game or a Cup game, if you can't win it, make sure you don't lose it. That is something that is important for your mentality as a group, even in preseason."
He had absolutely no complaint about his team's effort.
"In the heat, you can either sit back and be comfortable or you can be uncomfortable, because success hurts," Rodgers said. "For me today, the players hurt. They got uncomfortable. And that's how it will be for us this season. Hopefully the consequences will be positive results."
The Ravens play on artificial turf, but this soccer field consisted entirely of grass laid in place securely on top of the carpet. Workers installed more than 500 rolls of Kentucky Blue Grass sod to cover an estimated 86,400 square feet.
Fans usually attend Ravens games dressed in purple jerseys with the names "LEWIS" or "FLACCO" on the back. On this day, however, the stands were filled with fans wearing red shirts and jerseys, many of them with "GERRARD" atop the back. Steven Gerrard is captain of Liverpool, the 18-time English champion that is coming off a disappointing eighth-place finish.
Gerrard was rested until the 61st minute. Many in the crowd stood and cheered his entry into the match.
Tottenham, which opens at Newcastle on Aug. 18, took five shots in the first half compared to four for Liverpool, but the Spurs put only one shot on net.
Tottenham dominated the time of possession during the opening 45 minutes and had the best scoring chance. Minutes before halftime, Aaron Lennon fired a shot from left side that eluded Jones and bounced low off the right post.
In the 27th minute, Liverpool's Adam Morgan took a left-footed shot from the left side that Friedel smothered at the corner of the net.
Both teams substituted liberally in the second half, a concession to the 90-plus temperatures.
"I thought the players were outstanding to stay that focused and organized in that heat," Rodgers said. "It really shows their concentration and the fitness levels that they maintained. I was very pleased."