BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER, 2012
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1(1)
Faurlin (o.g), 60
Referee:- Phil Dowd
Assistants:- Mr. J. Flynn & Mr. L. Betts
Fourth Official:- Mr. M. Jones
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Friedel; Walker, Gallas (Capt.), Vertonghen, Bale; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon (sub Townsend, 90), Sigurdsson (sub Caulker, 46), Dempsey (sub Huddlestone, 88); Defoe
Subs not used:- Lloris; Dawson; Mason, Falque
QPR (4-4-2):- Cesar; Bosingwa (Sub Dyer, 3), Nelsen, Hill, Onuoha; Wright-Phillips (sub Mackie, 77), Granero, Faurlin, Park (Capt.); Zamora (sub Cisse, 73),Hoilett
Subs not used:- Green; Derry, Ehmer, Diakite
Booked:- Granero ( accumulation of fouls), Dyer (foul on Bale)
Vertonghen stands out in edgy Spurs win
Jan Vertonghen was voted the Spurs Odyssey man of the match for his rock steady performance against Lazio, and without seeking to pre-empt the vote for today's game he will be a hot favourite to be the stand-out player on the Spurs side.
The truth of the matter is that Spurs had a definite touch of the "Thursday-Sunday" blues. Most of the team had played a full part against Lazio, and the home side paid for sluggishness against a QPR side that had a full week's rest after their 0-0 against Chelsea.
Mark Hughes side had not come to defend, lining up in a 4-4-2 with former Blackburn star Junior Hoilett in support of former Spur, Bobby Zamora, who got a warm "Welcome back to The Lane" reception, as did defender Ryan Nelsen.
Brad Friedel made an anticipated return, and made two excellent early saves to deny Clint Hill and Hoilett. Gallas replaced Caulker, but Caulker was required at half-time after Andre Villas-Boas discovered that Gareth Bale does not a left back make! The switch of Vertonghen to the left, and Bale to revert to his more effective attacking position ultimately worked for Spurs, who gave QPR's Brazilian star goalkeeper, a real test, which they had failed to do before the interval.
At times during the second half, Spurs almost looked like a 4-4-2, with Dempsey supporting Defoe, but AVB is perhaps too rigid about his favoured formation.
Vertonghen was to the rescue after only one minute, when Gallas half cleared and QPR skipper Ji-Sung Park threatened. It was the first of many good tackles, and one in the second half was a goal-saving tackle by Spurs new Belgian star.
Former Chelsea full-back Jose Boswinga had to be replaced in the first few minutes and the surprise replacement was Kieron Dyer, who has had so little football in recent years.
That Clint Hill header from a corner after 4 minutes, had real power, and Friedel mad a great save, pushing the ball over his bar for a corner.
Spurs had made it into the QPR area early on, and had penalty appeals waved away by referee Phil Dowd, who was not favouring Spurs today.
After 8 minutes, Bale hit a terrific long ball for Lennon, who got near the bye-line and won a corner.
After an isolated piece of good football from Sigurdsson, whose form today was not good, he fed Defoe on the left, who hooked his shot wide of the near post. Friedel denied Hoilett's shot from the left of goal, with a dive to the left to push the ball clear. This QPR move had followed Bale losing out to Shaun Wright-Phillips.
QPR were well organised and found three men to deal with Walker and Lennon when they tried to attack down the right wing. Sandro and Dembele tried to advance down the middle, but Dembele was fouled and nothing came of the free kick.
Vertonghen and Hoilett required treatment after a midfield clash, and after a ball from Dempsey, Defoe did have the ball in the net, but he had been clearly flagged offside early.
Spurs had a nasty shock in the 33rd minute, but it came as no surprise to the fans, and was not at all undeserved, when a ball was half cleared after a corner as far as Faurlin, who found Zamora in space in the right side of the box. Zamora fired home convincingly. QPR were on a roll, and in no time at all Hoilett had a shot from distance, after referee Dowd had spotted an infringement but allowed play-on. Friedel made a save, parrying, before clearing.
Clearly changes were required and they came, with Caulker adapting well to the left of centre, and that Vertonghen/Bale adjustment. At last Cesar was busy, parrying Dempsey's shot then denying Caulker's header after a corner. A Spurs appeal for a handball in the box fell onto deaf ears.
In fairness to Phil Dowd, he had allowed a good advantage for Spurs, and after the attack, he booked Granero, and pointed to all four compass points to indicate he had committed one too many fouls.
Lennon had not lacked energy or effort all game, and Spurs at last equalised after a fine run and cross had forced a corner. From this, Caulker hit a header from the far post, and with Jermain Defoe challenging, Faurlin had the unfortunate and involuntary touch that at last beat Cesar.
Within two minutes, Spurs had the lead with a genuine, and a good goal. Vertonghen proved he not only has power, but pace, bringing the ball out of defence, down the left channel, before feeding the ball to Bale, whose shot was saved by Cesar with his legs, pushing the ball up onto the bar. The ball rebounded to the feet of Defoe, who made no mistake in scoring his fourth goal in 5 games.
More good play from Vertonghen and Bale led to another save from Bale, and a follow-up cross by Lennon cleared. QPR had by no means given up the ghost, and whilst Friedel was not sorely tested in this period, Spurs had plenty of defending to do, not least when Vertonghen made that goal-saving tackle in front of goal.
Cisse replaced Zamora, but Spurs had the next real chance. Walker got forward for a rare visit, and his cross to the back post was headed back by Dempsey. Defoe's effort was cleared off the line and Rangers were happy to concede another corner.
Now Mackie came on for Shaun Wright-Phillips, and QPR had two fresh strikers. Sandro was becoming more to the fore now, and made a fine determined run to carry the ball forward, passing to Lennon, who also had a good run, feeding Bale, who was down the right channel. Bale hit a right foot shot, saved again by Cesar. Park also came to the rescue in the Rangers' area, when Defoe was about to pull the trigger.
More effort and pace from Lennon gave another opportunity to Bale, but the keeper saved yet again. Dyer got booked for halting Bale in his tracks unfairly in the closing stages.
We were made to endure more than the scheduled 4 minutes of added time, and after more defending, causing shredded nerves in the stands, late, late substitute Andros Townsend made a great run. He might have had a pop at goal himself, but offered the ball to Defoe, whose shot was saved. That was the very last piece of action.
Spurs have climbed a couple of places to 8th, and now have their first home win of the season.
I anticipate a number of changes for Wednesday night's game at Carlisle, including Townsend for a tired looking Bale. Spurs should win that one of course, but will have their work cut out next Saturday tea-time at Old Trafford. See you there!
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