Spurs finally dare to dream
Tottenham 2 Everton 0
Published 12/01/2012 | 05:00
NINE points. Tottenham Hotspur supporters will stare at that Premier League table this morning, after this vital, almost symbolic victory, and survey the gap that exists between them and fifth-placed Arsenal and they will digest the words of manager Harry Redknapp. And they will believe.
They will believe that Champions League football is a destination not just a desperate desire; they will believe they can finish above their north London rivals, and Chelsea, and they will believe that cautious discussion of whether they can mount a title challenge might be more than just that.
Level on points with second-placed Manchester United now and just three behind leaders Manchester City who they visit on Sunday week.
"Are you watching, Arsenal?" the Spurs fans chanted gleefully. Never mind that, the whole Premier League is watching.
'To Dare Is To Do' is the club's motto. This morning, after another convincing, accomplished performance against organised opponents, they really can dare to dream.
Everton manager David Moyes had rightly pointed out that Spurs' well-funded and well-marshalled approach diverged sharply with his own club's moribund state.
Where not so long ago they were regarded as equals, the hopes of one have soared, the hopes of the other have diminished, although Moyes deployed an ambitious, attacking team last night.
In truth, that was partly because of injuries, although within the opening minute the ball broke to Louis Saha after an error by Younes Kaboul. He dragged his shot narrowly wide of the post.
But the pattern was set. Everton looked to attack but were pegged back.
Rafael van der Vaart narrowly failed to connect with Benoit Assou-Ekotto's angled cross before Spurs broke at pace and Bale ran unchallenged down the right. He cut the ball inside to Emmanuel Adebayor who, with only Tim Howard before him, lifted the pass over the goalkeeper and ran it out of play.
Modric then had a penalty appeal rejected, Adebayor shot wide and an Aaron Lennon effort landed on the roof of the net.
Finally, the weight of pressure told as a booming cross-field pass by Assou-Ekotto was taken down nimbly by Lennon, who caught out Leighton Baines, and scampered into the penalty area to shoot low back across goal and wrong-foot Howard.
Once ahead, Spurs looked more assured, with the dynamic Jake Livermore -- ably deputising for the injured pair of Scott Parker and Sandro -- and Modric, the midfield's class act, although they struggled to create opportunities, with Adebayor's touch elusive.
Spurs were pushing hard for the second goal and Neville was fortunate to escape censure after a strong challenge on Modric and then Assou-Ekotto, again, whipped in a dangerous cross which was met by Lennon who could only steer his header back across goal.
Just as it appeared the contest was about to drift, Assou-Ekotto fired it into life. Collecting possession, he surveyed his options and decided to have a shot.
Still more than 30 yards out, his effort was crisp enough but, tellingly, brushed off Tim Cahill's backside to crucially take it away from Howard's dive and rattle into the net.
It was only his second ever goal and his first for more than two years.
Some strike from the man in the odd boots and it was, in all honesty, game over.
There was precious little evidence of a late rally by the visitors who appear as static as Spurs do relentlessly upwardly-mobile and it was the home side who ended the match on the front foot and attacking in search of another goal. (© Daily Telegraph, London)