Boos turned to cheers within the space of four days, as Spurs tore into
a poor Blackburn Rovers team, who offered little in a first half that
could have seen them go into the break 4-0 down, but they kept plugging
away and created enough chances in the second period to finish the game
Spurs had once more
failed to capitalise on the chances they created in a first half when
captain Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart played some intricate
passing football through the midfield to open up the Rovers defence.
Chance after chance came and went, leaving the crowd feeling a little
disappointed at 2-0 at the interval.
van der Vaart was played in a nominally
more traditional midfield position in a 4-4-2 formation, with
Pavlyuchenko partnering Crouch up front. With Huddlestone out from
taking a knock on Tuesday, Jermaine Jenas came in and with Gareth Bale
on the left, the midfield looked solid enough. The defence and
keeper stayed the same as in midweek and needed an improved performance
to help the forwards, who were struggling to score.
After the buglers had played the Last
Post and the minute's silence had ended, the game got underway and Spurs
were on the attack straight away. An early Bale break on the left
led to a corner, as Salgado blocked his cross, but the dead ball
situation came to nothing, while Hoilett produced a low ball into the
near post from the left, but Gomes grabbed it to prevent a Rovers player
latching onto it. Spurs were determined to pile the pressure on
the visitors' goal, with Gallas hitting a 35 yard shot well over and
Kaboul hitting a short free-kick at goal, only for it to be blocked for
Jenas was playing well in the early
stages and had a good all-round game, showing what he does best when
driving forward with the ball. He played an astute ball between
two defenders to put Bale through, but once more his cross was cut out
by Salgado. It was Jenas' cross from the left which Nelsen
intercepted before it got to Crouch, which brought a corner that lead to
the first goal for Spurs. van der Vaart took it on the Tottenham
right and with the Rovers defence concentrating on Crouch, Gareth Bale
made a darting run to the near post to get ahead of the defenders and
power a header on the the accurate delivery past Paul Robinson and his
defence to open the scoring in the 16th minute.
Tottenham had a period of pressure with
corners keeping the ball at the Rovers end, but they did break out in
the 23rd minute to force a save from Gomes, who got behind a curling
shot from Jones, some 25 yards out, which may have been going wide, but
Heurelho was taking no chances.
In the 25th minute, Spurs should have had
the chance to go further ahead. Unfortunately, another refereeing
disaster imposed itself on Tottenham. Firstly Pavlyuchenko was
baulked by Pedersen as he went for a back-hell from Rafa and then when
the ball came out, Luka got to it first and the lunge from Salgado
floored the Croatian. So, two bites of the cherry for the Ancient
Marriner to get it right, but his decision ? .... Yes, what else but a
booking for Modric for diving !! What a joke !
It was not his only farcical decision of
the day, but when we will get some sort of regulation on these officials
? They really do affect the outcome of games and not always in the
way that it was originally intended that they should.
It should have been 2-0 in the 29th
minute, as Phil Jones played a short back-pass towards Robinson, but it
got nowhere near the keeper and Pav stole in to reach it first and took
an early shot with the outside of his foot that went way over the top,
with Crouch standing inside him, waiting for a square pass to finish it
into an empty net.
Things then got worse for Pavlyuchenko
when Marriner annoyed the Blackburn team this time, with Jenas making a
penetrating run into the left side of the Rovers box and Samba falling
on him, while the ball ran towards Paul Robinson, but Crouch stuck a leg
out to reach the ball first and the keeper pushed him over. Again,
two opportunities to give a penalty and this time Marriner gave it, but
from a position in the other half of the ground, it looked a little
harsh. With that in mind, perhaps the interminable length of time
Marriner took to explain the laws about encroachment to the Blackburn
players, was some sort of penance with Pav standing waiting to take the
spot kick, which he eventually was allowed to strike at goal and he
missed the target to Robbo's right.
Attacks were exchanged, with Samba
heading straight at Gomes and Bale putting a low ball in from the right
wing, but it was just too far ahead of the Spurs strikers.
Assuming it must have been for an injury, Salgado made way for El-Hadji
Diouf and Chimbonda Moved from midfield to right back. The
Spaniard had been doing OK against Bale and while the former Tottenham
defender got the better of Bale the first time he ran at him, after that
Gareth had the beating of Pascal. But it was Gomes who had to come
to Tottenham's rescue in the 38th minute, as Kalinic for once used his
feet instead of his elbows and turned Gallas and Kaboul in the box,
firing a low shot that Gomes blocked and when the rebound fell in
Hutton's direction, he sliced a clearance that flew towards his own goal
and Bale had to stop Chimbonda shooting on target.
in the 42nd minute, Roman took a pass and
turned away from his marker to cross the ball, but it took a deflection
off Givet and brought Robinson into action with a hand throw up to knock
it away. However, in the next attack, Bale ran along the left wing
and just when it looked like Chimbonda had done enough, but the Welshman
got the ball up and over to the par post, where Pav ran in to head
firmly past Robinson to make it 2-0. His "I'm not worthy" bowing
to the Park Lane indicated that he knew he should have put Spurs out of
sight already, but was grateful for their support.
At the break, the lack of goals across
the Premier League showed the importance of taking your opportunities
and the 2-0 lead was a satisfactory outcome from the first half, but was
still a tenuous lead.
With Rovers bringing on Jason Roberts, on
a scoring streak, for the disappointing Kalinic, it was fairly obvious
that Blackburn were going to play to his strengths and that would be the
early long ball for him to chase and knock our defenders around.
And so it proved from the kick off, but when Tottenham got the ball,
they played it well and Bale created a shooting opportunity for Modric
to hit an effort wide by a yard. The Welshman nearly scored the
goal of the century when a raking pass from van der Vaart on the right
picked out his run to the corner of the box and Gareth struck it firs
time, but this time, his aim was off and the ball flew too high.
Five minutes in, Rovers were flinging the
ball into the Spurs box and Tottenham had to defend stoically, which
they did, preventing Rovers having a clear sight of goal, having to rely
on quick breaks to relieve the pressure. On the hour, one move
between Modric and Bale started on the left and ended up with Bale on
the right wing, from where he tried to stand the ball up to the far
post, but the ball looped up off his foot and went over Robinson and
luckily for the ex-Spurs keeper, also went over the bar. Tottenham
continued on the attack and van der Vaart pulled a ball back for Crouch
to score, but his shot was blocked by the Blackburn keeper and before
you knew it, the ball was at the other end, with Gomes punching out a
cross as far as Pedersen, who returned it goal-wards with haste, leaving
Gallas on the line to hack the shot clear.
Spurs were opened up five minutes later,
when substitute David Dunn played El Hadji Diouf through on the right
side of the box ad Gomes made himself big to beat out the Senegal
striker's effort, but it proved to be a vital save, as at 2-1, things
might have been a bit nervy for the remainder of the game, but in the
63rd minute Crouch pout the result further in Tottenham's favour.
When VDV put Pavlyuchenko through on the D, it looked like it would be
3-0, but his low shot was beaten out by Robinson's save. The ball
fell to Gael Givet around the penalty spot, but he stumbled on it and
before anyone could react Crouch was there to poach a much-needed goal
for the team and the player himself. It is the sort of scrappy
goal we need to get better at scoring, but it gave even more breathing
space at a time when Rovers looked like getting back in the match.
Gomes had to be alert to deny Hoilett's
25 yard drive and Robinson also saved well from Pav, who was put in by
JJ, but his shot was pushed away by the keeper in the 73rd minute.
However, a minute later, Alan Hutton, who had an impressive game, got
away on the right and put in a ball that van der Vaart did well to bring
down, but did not have time to do anything with, as Bale took a shot
that seemed to take an eternity to cross the line, with the early take
leaving Robinson stranded and the ball hit the net to make it 4-0 with
his second of the match.
With just over a quarter if an hour left,
Spurs could let the game progress as they had been playing and look for
more goals, but what happened is what usually happens when we think that
we are comfortably leading a game. We nearly let it go with the
opposition coming back into the game. Diouf put a free header wide
from Emerton's swung-in free-kick and although Jenas went on a long run
into the right hand side of the box, his finish was pulled wide.
With ten minutes to go, another free-kick
caused a bit of panic in the Tottenham defence and while it was cleared
twice, it didn't go far enough, only reaching Dunn about 25 yards out.
His shot was flying about three inches above the ground and going wide,
until Ryan Nelsen got a touch on it to divert it past Gomes and in for
That almost became 4-2 when Gallas got in
the way of a shot from Dunn and the ball looped high into the sky and
when it came down, Gomes had to back-pedal to tip it over the bar.
And the same was true when Hoilett set up Diouf, whose shot was cleared
off the line by Kaboul. Harry brought on Palacios for VDV and Sandro for
Pav to try and shore up the midfield and to stop Rovers progressing
forward, but in the last minute of normal time, another ball was bombed
into the box and when Spurs didn't get it clear on the edge of their
box, this time it was Givet who drove it back past Gomes with interest,
making it 4-2.
The fourth official showed five minutes
of added time and what might have been a worrying time passed reasonably
untroubled. In fact, Spurs might have scored again as first a long
through ball was chased by Bale, but was thwarted by Robinson racing to
the right edge of his area to punch the ball as he approached the line,
which he may had slid past had he grabbed the ball. Secondly,
Jenas made a driving run forward after picking off a cross field pass
and he took it to the left side of the box, so not onto his best foot,
but, just as he was about to pull his foot back for the shot, Jones
stretched out a long leg to make a finely times tackle.
When the game ended, the three points
were warmly welcomed on a chilly day. The team had put in a very
good first half and a good second half, with some good personal
performances all through the team. Nobody had a bad day and that
is what has to happen if the side are to press their claim in the top
four once more.
There are few teams who could have made
Blackburn look so ordinary, as they always put in a lot of leg-work, but
Spurs floated around them, with VDV and Modric running the midfield for
long periods of the game.
The three points were important with the
programme of games coming up - Arsenal, Werder Bremen, Liverpool,
Birmingham, Twente Enschede and Chelsea. What we need to do is
turn in three very good performances against three of the top English
clubs, to beat Birmingham and to continue our good European form,
beating Bremen if possible to ensure qualification for the knock-out
At the end of that little passage of the
season, we can take stock of where we are and where we might finish.