With two goals and an up and down display, Roman Pavlyuchenko showed
what good form he is in and with Jermain Defoe notching the first Spurs
goal in first half injury time, it was difficult for a Blackburn Rovers
side, which was set up in a defensive mode, to get anything from this
In truth, the Rafa Benitez
theory about Blackburn being a physical side didn't shine through on
this showing. They were willing to pass the ball around, albeit
with a lack of penetration and they proved easier to get past than
several of the sides who have visited the Lane this season. The
main thrust of Tottenham's attacks were up the left wing, where Redknapp
and his team had spotted a weakness in the presence of former Real
Madrid defender Michel Salgado. Dawson planted some fine passes to
Bale beyond the Spaniard from about 50 yards away to set Gareth on his
It was a ploy which should have borne
fruit long before the added two minutes at the end of the first half.
Bale's crosses did not always find their man, but were always asking
questions of the Blackburn defence. An early cross found Robinson
take the ball at the near post and set David Dunn on a counter attack,
but the now tubby midfielder got half the length of the pitch and into
the Tottenham box before running out of steam and slowing down, allowing
Palacios time to catch him with a sliding tackle to take the ball
cleanly. Blackburn could also have had a good chance when Morten
Gamst Pedersen curved in a free kick that Samba got highest to, but
failed to connect, with the goal in front of him.
It was a warning to Spurs, but one which
was rarely reproduced. The closest they came to threatening the
Tottenham goal again came when former Spur Pascal Chimbonda went down
the left and pulled the ball back to Martin Olsson, but fortunately for
Spurs, the midfielder failed to realise the speed in which he had to get
his shot away and Sebastien Bassong got across to thwart the effort by
blocking it away.
It wasn't just Bale raiding up the left
flank, as Assou-Ekotto nicked the ball away when Salgado played an
under-weight pass and broke into the box. The Spanish
international could not touch him, so BAE got to the dead ball line and
pulled the ball back for Pavlyuchenko at the far post, but the ball had
flicked off a defender and took a long while to come down, leaving the
Russian a wait for his volley, which he scuffed into the ground in the
16th minute. Four minutes later and Bale provided a similar chance
at the near post, but Roman was too far ahead of the goal to be able to
turn it in.
With 25 minutes on the clock, ex-Spurs
goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who had been serenaded with "England's Number
One" from his former fan club in the Park Lane, suddenly fell to the
ground holding his leg. After some treatment, he limped form the
field with what seemed to be a calf muscle problem. His
replacement, Jason Brown, ran on to a chorus of boos form the Park Lane
... just because he wasn't Paul Robinson. He got a volley of
"England's Number Seven" ... even though the goalie was Welsh !!
His stick from the crowd continued into the second half, when someone in
Paxton blew a hooter every time Brown took a goal kick or cleared the
On the half hour, a fine ball from
Dawson, angled over Salgado from his own half gave Bale a run into the
area and he slid the ball across the face of goal, with Defoe just a
little bit behind play to get a touch, then Givet almost put it past his
own keeper when Assou-Ekotto got through on the same touch-line.
With 36 minutes gone, Defoe was slipped through by a cute Modric pass
and he smashed the ball low, but Brown got down to it to keep it out,
although Defoe had the last laugh of the half. A corner on the
Spurs left wing was taken by Niko Kranjcar and Corluka rose at the near
post to flick it on into the six yard box, where the predator Defoe was
lurking at the near post to prod home from a couple of feet out.
It had looked like the goal wasn't going to come, as Rovers packed men
behind the ball, but a goal from a corner, a most unusual source, was
most welcome as the whistle went for the interval.
On the restart, Tottenham continued to
push onwards. Pavlyuchenko was being swarmed all over by Samba,
but managed to chest the ball back to JD, who hit the ball first time on
the volley, but it went a long way wide. Blackburn were
pressurising Tottenham, without really posing too much of a problem for
Gomes, but Spurs broke in the 55th minute, with Modric bringing the ball
through the middle of the pitch. He passed through to Defoe, who
played it right o Pavlyuchenko, although the ball was a bit behind him.
The Russian broke his stride to pick the ball up, shifted it wide of his
marker and struck a powerful shot from 20 yards out that dipped as it
reached Brown and went under the keeper to end up in the net. It
was noticed that just before the goal, the Blackburn goalkeeping coach
had delivered some water to Brown, by trotting around the track to the
back of the goal after 55 minutes. That goalkeeping coach was none
other than Bobby Mimms, so he must have taught his keepers all he knows
about diving over the ball !!
Two was not enough for Tottenham, as they
continued to attack. Modric had two chances, but lacked conviction
in his finishing, while Bale had two penalty appeals knocked back by
Howard Webb (no surprise there), as Salgado and Pedersen brought him
down. Strange that the ref didn't book Bale if he thought there
was no contact though !!
It took until 15 minutes from time for
Allardyce to throw on a second forward in Di Santo to partner Kalinic.
Palacios had to intervene with a sliding tackle almost immediately to
stop the ball reaching Di Santo in a good position and from one corner,
Gomes ended up punching the ball off for another corner. From this
one, the ball got to Samba at the far post, with Gomes trying to get
through too many players and the Rovers centre half seemed to be
climbing, but managed to head the ball into the top corner to pull a
goal back at a time when it looked like Spurs might wobble. It
seemed clear that the visitors would use the aerial supremacy of Samba
and Nzonzi, so Harry brought on Crouch to try and counter this ploy.
Spurs dropped deeper and almost invited
Blackburn onto them in the last third, with Crouch stationed in the
middle to head anything away. However, five minutes from the end, a foul
by Samba on Pavlyuchenko, 30 yards out on the left gave Bale the chance
to fire one in and he picked out the fouled player at the far post.
Unmarked, you could almost have put your money on him converting a
volley from eight yards out, but he swung with his left, with which he
missed earlier and the ball got stuck under his feet, dribbling into the
six yard box. It was kicked out, but only to Wilson Palacios, who
flighted a ball to the far post, where Peter Crouch was waiting, but as
he jumped with two defenders, the ball went beyond him. Luckily,
Gareth bale had seen the ball coming and adjusted his position to play
the ball across the six yard box on the half volley and Pavlyuchenko had
stayed alert despite missing the first opening to run in to tap the ball
home for 3-1 to Spurs. It was another striker's goal, the like
that we don't get enough of.
Blackburn thought that they had got a
goal back again when the ball was played up to Di Santo and he swivelled
to smash the ball beyond Gomes from the edge of the box, but Webb
blew his whistle and ruled it out for handball as Dawson had bumped into
the striker, who swung the ball around with his hand to shoot home.
Within a minute Tottenham nearly got their fourth, with a free-kick
aimed for Crouch, but Brown came and could not get to the ball, which
was knocked sideways and Pavlyuchenko volleyed towards an empty net,
until Samba stuck out a leg to take the ball over the bar to deprive the
Russian of his hat-trick. If it had been anyone else (apart from
Nzonzi), they may not have been able to reach the ball.
The final whistle went with Spurs still
looking for goals, as Brown finally did well to beat away a powerful
drive from Bale as he broke into the area. It was a comprehensive
display from Spurs, with just a little uncertainty around the Blackburn
goal, but the three points from a game like this will boost confidence
and set them up for the final run-in.
Stoke will provide a similar test next
week and a similar performance and result will be most acceptable !!