Sunday 18 February 2018

Kranjcar unleashes frustrations with strike of Premier class


John Ley

Amid the penalty mayhem at White Hart Lane emerged the tale of two men, from very different backgrounds but with the same desire. If Daniel Sturridge's reply for Bolton highlighted a precocious talent, the added-time winner, by Niko Kranjcar, was borne out of frustration.

On a day that produced seven converted penalties, White Hart Lane was the scene of a bizarre litany of spot-kick stories: one converted, one retaken then missed and one that should have been given.

In addition, we saw one man determined to prove he has Premier League capabilities with another offering a healthy response to a difficult position. Sturridge is on loan from Chelsea but according to Owen Coyle, who has a growing reputation for putting faith in young, unproven talent, he has "a real desire" to make a mark.

Sturridge scored his second goal, in two games, since joining Bolton and it deserved to earn Bolton a point. Coyle said: "The thing I love about him is his real desire to play. It would have been very easy for Daniel Sturridge to stay at Chelsea and come off the bench with 10 or 15 minutes left. But he wants to improve himself."

Coyle takes the credit for turning Jack Wilshere, in Premier League terms, from a boy into a man. The Arsenal midfielder went to the Reebok Stadium on loan last season and returned to the Emirates as one ready to play for his country.

But after a 21-year-old levelled Rafael van der Vaart's early penalty -- the one that counted -- a 26-year-old, given few opportunities himself, made a statement.

Kranjcar struck a delightful goal from 25 yards two minutes into added-time to earn Spurs a win perhaps they did not deserve. And then he spoke eloquently of his desire to make a mark.

Harry Redknapp, his manager, rejected overtures from Werder Bremen in the window, while the winger was happy to stay.

"There was a lot of frustration behind that goal," admitted Kranjcar, who was starting only his second league game of the season.

"I haven't been playing for a whole year so for me, for the lads, it was a great moment.

Referee Mark Clattenburg awarded Spurs two penalties in the opening eight minutes and, after Van der Vaart converted the first, he made the Dutchman retake the second after Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios had encroached.

Van der Vaart missed; the fifth failed penalty by a Spurs player out of 11, but later game the greater controversy. Clattenburg saw Gary Cahill dive and booked him for simulation when he should have awarded Bolton a penalty for contact made by Steven Pienaar.

Coyle has compiled a DVD of instances which he believes have gone against his side. Redknapp greeted the news with indifference. "I won't be buying it," joked the Spurs manager. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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