the need for three points to push for a UEFA Cup place, there was little
room for sympathy for Charlton who needed a win to stay up. The
lack of sympathy even extended to the Charlton crowd's booing of Jermain
Defoe, who had the last word in this important win for Tottenham.
With Tottenham panicking a bit in the second half,
they allowed Charlton to have some possession in dangerous positions,
which was in contrast to the first period, when they held the ball well
and kept Charlton at bay by staying in the Addicks half. Only a
couple o f half chances came the home side's way and Spurs should have
finished more of the opportunities they created ... but that is the
story of Tottenham's season
Spurs could not have asked for a brighter
start. Knocking the ball about comfortably, they looked confident
and when Dawson headed out a low cross to Rocha, you could not imagine
what was about to happen. Luckily, Dimitar Berbatov did. As
King took the Portuguese defender's pass and played it down the left
touchline, Berba manoeuvred in front of El Karkouri. As the ball
came to him, he flicked the ball past the Charlton defender with the
outside of his foot and ran the other side of him. Out-pacing the
Moroccan, Dimitar ran towards the penalty area and kept his body between
the defender and the ball, but before he got a chance to tackle,
Berbatov had shot over the approaching Scott Carson to bury the ball
inside the side-netting to register his 22nd goal and Tottenham's 100th
of the season. it was a goal that said much about the way the
Bulgarian plays the game ... with poise and class.
Charlton hit back by trying to exploit the
weakness Tottenham have in defending set-pieces. A corner was
played in low and the ball bounced up off Dawson as one of the Bents
missed it, but luckily it popped up into Robinson's hands. El
Karkouri also did the same, when he might have done better, later in the
half. The Spurs keeper had a couple of nervy moments, with him
coming to punch the bal and not getting it very far, but he was rarely
directly troubled and the defence kept the ball away from the goal for
the majority of the half.
Both sides played over-hit balls through into
the penalty area, with Spurs also having chances from a Jenas long-shot
and Tainio forced Carson to a dive to save with a 20 yard shot.
With Ricardo Rocha injured in an early tackle, Charlton tried to make
the most of the time they had on their right wing with Luke Young
getting into crossing positions, but not really making the most of them.
When Carson came for a cross near the edge of the area, it looked as
though the threat had gone, but he dropped the cross outside his box and
had to hack the ball clear before Tainio pounced. From it,
Charlton moved the ball upfield and in the second phase of play the long
ball saw King get caught underneath it and Darren Bent ran on to fire a
shot on goal, but Rocha's covering run made him hit it wide.
Before that, the best chance had been when Darren Bent had been played
in by Song, but forced wide by Robbo, he crossed to the far post, where
Song ran in and met it with his head. It could have been a problem
for Tottenham, but the Arsenal loan player failed to hit the target from
about five yards out and a goal-kick was the result.
At half-time, Rocha was deemed not able to
carry on and Anthony Gardner took his place in the side at left back for
the first time since fracturing his fibula. The half began much
the same way as the first. Tottenham keeping the ball, with lots
of short passes, but at the end of them they turned possession over and
gave Charlton the chance to attack them. Luckily for Spurs, the
home side liked to give the ball away equally as much and they had
little threat going forward other than corners and free-kicks.
Dimitar makes the game look so simple.
Taking the ball about 30 yards from goal, he looked up nonchalantly,
before unleashing a fierce dipping effort that Carson had to push out at
full stretch. A short while later, his through ball to Lennon just
caught Aaron's heels, otherwise he would have been straight through on
goal and another was just the wrong side of the little winger as he ran
With the need uppermost for Charlton to get
back into the game, they threw players forward, but not too haphazardly.
However, the way they were playing left Tottenham the openings to hit
them on the break. Unfortunately, they did not make the most of
them, especially the one when Berbatov, Keane and Jenas were up against
three defenders, but failed to make the final pass tell.
It might have been costly, as Zheng Zhi made a
run into the left hand side of the penalty area and went down under
challenge from Michael Dawson, but it was a well-timed tackle and the
ref saw it all the way and pointed for a corner. From it
Hreidarsson headed towards goal, but without any Charlton player in the
vicinity, Robbie Keane smashed the ball away from in front of the goal.
Steed Malbranque came on to add some experience
in keeping the ball, with Lennon going off for a rest and when Tottenham
forced a corner, Jenas' cross found Berbatov, but falling backwards, his
header lacked power and a little direction, as it flew a yard wide.
Dimitar was also involved soon after, when his pass to Steed saw the
Frenchman fire hurriedly over as a tackle came in. Twice Berba was
prevented from receiving the ball by good defensive headers and when the
play switched to the Tottenham end, the Chinese international produced
his best action of the night, with a low cross in that hit Darren Bent
rather than him responding to it. Once more, Robbo found the ball
in his arms without being stretched. Hasslebaink got in the
way of a Ambrose shot, which was the last proper threat on goal, apart
from Ledley slicing a clearance off for a corner and Dawson blocking a
shot from Matt Holland.
With Defoe coming on for the last five minutes
for Robbie Keane, it looked as though he would not get much of an
opportunity. An offside decision and a last minute tackle robbed
him of a shooting opportunity within a couple of minutes of his arrival,
but it was not to be the only involvement he had. After Robbo had
smothered the ball as Hasselbaink ran into the area and it went for a
corner, it was cleared by King, who had a good night, despite having
trouble keeping his feet.
With time running out for Charlton, there
seemed little urgency in their play, so when the ball was nicked off the
toe of a defender by Defoe to Berbatov, he waited for his moment to slip
a pass between two defenders for the little striker to blast a shot from
outside the box that flicked off Luke Young's calf to fly past Carson
and seal Tottenham's win and Charlton's fate.
It was about what both teams deserved from the
game. Charlton put in a lot of effort, while Spurs showed that
they have the ability to dictate games for long periods, but need to be
more clinical and more secure in possession.
We wish all the Charlton supporters the best
for next season and hope they will be back in the Premiership soon.
As for Spurs, we move on to Thursday and Blackburn Rovers, as the quest
for Europe continues. Three more points should do it if everyone
else wins and with two games left, I hope that the campaign does not
fall flat as it did on this day at Upton Park last season.