Adebayor doubles up to raise Spurs expectations
Published 27/11/2011 | 05:00
This was the sort of win that will intensify talk of a Tottenham tilt at the title. Without two key players and a goal down early on to a West Brom side in fine form, Harry Redknapp's side showed their resourcefulness to come back and plunder three goals and three more points.
They have now taken 28 from the last 30 available, their only defeats of the season coming against the two Manchester sides before they had completed their summer transfer dealing.
Having drafted in Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor since then, Spurs are on a remarkable run. Their ability to fulfil their lofty ambitions for the season, however, will depend to a large extent on how they cope when deprived of a key players: the visit to West Brom was instructive, as illness to Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart's hamstring trouble meant Spurs would be without their two most imaginative players for the first time in the campaign.
While a relative lack of creativity might have been expected given the absentees, the sight of Spurs being outbattled in midfield early on was surprising. Modric's replacement, Sandro, did have the first menacing shot, bringing an awkward save from Ben Foster in the fourth minute, but most of the play was heading the other way. In the 10th minute the hosts took the a deserved lead.
Zoltan Gera beat Benoit Assou-Ekotto to the ball near the right-hand corner flag and laid it back to Steven Reid, who delivered a superb cross. The unmarked Youssouf Mulumbu headed into the net from eight yards. Such shoddy defending could hardy be blamed on the loss of Modric and Van der Vaart.
Other than Gera, who had to be replaced after twisting his knee in the 21st minute, West Brom were looking comfortable. However, the Baggies have developed a nasty habit of conceding penalties this season, and when Nicky Shorey pulled back Aaron Lennon in the box, Adebayor was given the chance to become the fourth player to score against them from the spot in the last five games. Foster parried the penalty, but Adebayor converted on the rebound. "I'm fed up talking about penalties," Albion boss Roy Hodgson said afterwards, refusing to be drawn on whether the hosts should also have been given penalties after two similar challenges to Shorey's in the Spurs box.
Fortunate to be level at the break, Spurs were more urgent in the second period, Parker proving the point in the 54th minute with powerful run through the middle before teeing up Adebayor 14 yards out. Foster thwarted the forward with an excellent save. Moments later Shane Long headed straight at Friedel from close range after a fine run and cross by Morrison. Reid then had to clear a Defoe shot off the line.
Midway through the second period Tottenham produced the best move of the game, Defoe and Adebayor combining beautifully before Foster denied the Togolese striker again.
West Brom should have regained the lead in the 78th minute but, after a fine run and cross by Morrison, Brunt blazed over. Then Defoe, the man replacing Van der Vaart, showed how it should be done. After collecting the ball on halfway he ran to the edge of the area and fired to the net -- his fifth goal of a campaign in which he seldom starts.
West Brom sought an equaliser and played into Tottenham's hands. With their speed on the break Spurs should have scored three more before Adebayor extended their lead in stoppage-time, slotting into the net after receiving a pass from Bale.
"We were poor in the first half and I told them it was not acceptable," said Redknapp. "In the second half we upped the pace and we looked a different team."
Since two opening defeats by the Manchester clubs Spurs are now unbeaten in 10 league matches.
Sunday Indo Sport