FA BARCLAYS PEMIERSHIP
MONDAY 7TH MAY, 2007
CHARLTON ATHLETIC 0 (0) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (1)
Referee: - Mark Halsey
Attendance: - 26,339
Charlton (4-4-2):- Carson; Young (Capt.), El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson; Ambrose, Song (sub Sam, 71), Holland, Zheng Zhi (sub Hughes, 84); M. Bent (sub Hasselbaink, 70), D. Bent
Subs not used: - Randolph; Bougherra
Spurs (4-4-2):- Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, King (Capt.), Rocha (sub Gardner, 46); Lennon, (sub Malbranque, 59), Jenas, Zokora, Tainio; Keane (sub Defoe, 83), Berbatov
Subs not used: - Cerny; Huddlestone
Another sublime goal by Dimitar Berbatov in the seventh minute brought up the century of goals for Spurs in all competitions this season, and when the star striker teed up Jermain Defoe’s last minute goal, Charlton were formally condemned to Championship Football next season, whilst Spurs (timing their run impeccably) are all set to return to European Football.
Having scored such a dream early goal, one might have expected Charlton to throw all caution to the wind, as only a win would enable their fight for survival to continue. To their credit, Alan Pardew’s men did not take on a gung-ho approach, and (Spurs being Spurs) the home side were allowed more and more possession, but rarely caused any real threat to Paul Robinson’s goal.
Spurs lined up with Aaron Lennon on the right, but sadly, his form seems to have diminished recently, and it was no surprise when he was replaced by Steed Malbranque with half an hour to go. Teemu Tainio was on the left, but helping with the defensive cover in the middle, where Jenas had one of his more quiet games, but Zokora was allowed to flourish. Spurs have not lost a game all season where Tainio has completed the 90 minutes, and so it proved today
Pardew had to improvise, with no genuine wing-men available, and when they did get into threatening areas, too often their delivery or final touch was poor. Also, I find it quite surprising that in such a crucial game, there were no bookings, and arguably, Charlton were too polite towards their opponents.
As usual, the Spurs fans fully occupied the Jimmy Seed stand, and after a controlled start by the boys in white, the away end was in raptures when Berbatov – standing just inside the Charlton half – flicked on a Ledley King clearance, turned and raced past his marker El Karkouri, and delightfully dinked the ball beyond Carson’s left hand with his right foot for his 11th Premiership goal, and 22nd in all competitions. Sir Alex Ferguson is reputedly sniffing around, but please, please, please Spurs do not let the best player we have had since Klinsmann slip out of our hands!
Jenas had a good effort after 9 minutes, after Tainio had won the ball in the middle, and the ball was sent to Berbatov, who controlled and fed Jenas smoothly, before Jermaine hit a left foot effort wide across the goal. The same three players were involved in inter-play after 18 minutes, before Jenas passed to Tainio, whose shot was held by Carson, playing his last Premiership game for Charlton, who visit his home club, Liverpool on Sunday. Carson has set something of a record by being voted Charlton’s player of the season, and he is a loan player. Perhaps that is also an indictment of the outfield players of the Addicks.
There was a worrying moment after 36 minutes, when Robinson came out towards the edge of his area, and Song’s pass reached Darren Bent near the bye-line. Song got a touch on Bent’s cross, but the header went wide. Charlton had another good chance before the break, when the ball was taken off Berbatov, no foul was given and both the Bent boys broke clear. It was Darren who had the shot, which again was hit wide.
Spurs replaced Ricardo Rocha with Anthony Gardner, making his first appearance since Stamford Bridge on 11th March. Berbatov had a quick exchange with Lennon before firing low from the right side of the area, bringing a good save from Carson in front of the home end.
Charlton wanted a penalty after 58 minutes, when Dawson challenged Zheng Zhi in the box, but clearly got his foot to the ball first, leading Mr Halsey to decisively wave “Play-On”! Spurs never went for the jugular during the game, and at times had every man in the box defending corners and dead ball situations, not that they were conceding many free kicks today. Berbatov headed a corner wide, then after 68 minutes, Zokora won the ball and carried on forward, where Tainio, Keane and Berbatov continued the move which ended in a skied shot from Malbranque.
The usual sequence of substitutions took place, including that of Jermain Defoe for Robbie Keane. It was the former Charlton Junior who delivered the coup de grace, when fed by Berbatov he hit a delightful 22 yard shot that dipped over Carson into the net.
So, it’s goodbye Charlton, but Spurs need just two points from their last two home games against Blackburn (on Thursday), and Manchester City on Sunday for that return to the UEFA Cup. Whilst we would of course have liked to have secured the European Tour earlier, it is exciting to still be playing for something positive in the last week of the season, for the second year in a row!
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