Sunday 17 December 2017

Defoe thunderbolt takes wind out of Blackpool's sails

Spurs 1 Blackpool 1

Jermain Defoe's equaliser two minutes from time denied Blackpool their first victory since February but, thanks to Charlie Adam's successful second-half penalty, Ian Holloway's team still managed to clamber out of the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference only.

Defoe's goal mitigated rather than dispelled Harry Redknapp's disappointment on an afternoon in which his side missed a plethora of chances and lost Gareth Bale to an ugly-looking injury.

Manchester City's defeat at Everton earlier in the afternoon had boosted Spurs' slim chances of qualifying for the Champions League ahead of Tuesday's showdown with City. Holloway's team, of course, had even more pressing priorities, Wigan's point at Aston Villa having pushed them into the bottom three. As usual, they seemed inspired rather than intimidated by their plight, attacking their hosts from the outset. With Tottenham committed to an equally enterprising style, play was pleasingly slick and swift.

The initial threats came from distance. Michael Dawson hammered a shot over from 25 yards, before Neil Eardley crashed a free-kick into the Tottenham wall and then, in the 13th minute, Bale forced Matthew Gilks into the first save of the game, the 'keeper pushing his 20-yard drive wide.

Spurs were starting to dominate but Blackpool, bold as ever, used their few spells of possession to race forward. They were nearly rewarded in the 23rd minute, when William Gallas and then Dawson repelled shots from inside the box with acrobatic blocks before Heurelho Gomes pulled off an even more agile save to keep out a stinging volley from Adam.

Adam tested Gomes again in the 36th minute with a thunderous shot from 25 yards, but again the 'keeper beat it away. The Tottenham left-back Danny Rose, making his first appearance for the club since scoring the winner against Arsenal more than a year ago, nearly marked his return by creating a goal, but Gilks pushed away his low cross before any striker could turn it in.

On the hour mark Spurs suffered huge a set-back when Adam caught Bale on his left ankle and, after prolonged treatment, the footballers' player of the year was carried off on a stretcher, visibly in pain. The likelihood of him returning to action before the end of the season looks low.

Blackpool almost rubbed salt into Spurs' wounds when Keith Southern supplied DJ Campbell, but Gomes saved the striker's shot superbly. The reprieve was short-lived.

In the barmy bout of play that followed, Dawson conceded a penalty with a needless handball and Gomes produced a fine save from Adam's spot-kick. When the ball came back into the area less than a minute later, however, the 'keeper bowled over Gary Taylor-Fletcher to concede another penalty. This time Adam converted emphatically.

Blackpool seemed ready to hold on for a precious win, but in the 88th minute Defoe stunned them with a rocket from 20 yards.


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