FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SUNDAY 12TH JANUARY, 2003
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4 (1) EVERTON 3 (1)
Keane, 50, 68, 83
Referee:- Steve Dunn
Spurs (3-4-1-2/4-4-2):- Keller; Doherty, Perry, King; Carr, Anderton, Bunjevcevic, Davies; Poyet (capt); Iversen (sub Acimovic, 80), Keane
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Taricco, Gardner; Blondel
Everton (4-4-2):- Baardsen; Pistone, Yobo (sub Carsley, 86), Stubbs (capt), Unsworth; Watson, Gemmill, Li Tie (sub Osman, 90), Naysmith; McBride, Radzinski
Subs not used:- Said;Pembridge, Alexandersson (no substitute goalkeeper available)
Spurs hit-man Robbie Keane scored his first Premiership hat-trick today to restore some pride to Tottenham after their disastrous cup exit last week, and to end a run of five games since a win. All three goals were scored in front of the North stand, and each time, Robbie went to the corner with the lower West Stand to have his own personal celebration with family and friends that came over from Ireland to see him play. What a day they had!
The score-line indicates that it was not plain sailing for Spurs, who first went behind to a debut goal from American Brian McBride, and then managed to twice lose the lead that they had gained early in the second half. No doubt the non-partisan TV viewers enjoyed this game, but although this is the first 4-3 win for Spurs that I can recall for a considerable time, I cannot say that it was an enjoyable experience overall, as this was one of those games when either team looked like scoring almost every time they went forward. The Everton fans cannot be too happy, seeing their team lose despite scoring three goals away from home, and three for the first time in the league this season.
We played "Guess the formation" for the first 10 minutes, as Glenn Hoddle tinkered again. Once again there are changes to report, as Sheringham was absent (believed with a knee injury), Freund was suspended, and Taricco was left on the bench. The starting formation resembled that used at Newcastle, with Gary Doherty installed on the right side of the back three beside Chris Perry and Ledley King. Goran Bunjevcevic took Freund's midfield role, and most mysteriously, Simon Davies played as left wing back in the first half. Anderton was in the middle beside Bunjee, and Gus Poyet played in support of Iversen and Keane. Oh for the settled 4-4-2 of the visitors! Maybe it was all a ploy by our Glenn, to confuse the opposition, and then surprise them when we reverted to 4-4-2 soon after the start of the second half, when Davies moved to his right wing berth, and Ledley played at left back.
David Moyes also made changes in his line-up. Some were voluntary, others forced, but he was not helped by Richard Wright's warm-up injury, giving ex-Spurs Espen Baardsen the chance to play at his old home. Espen got a great reception when he came out for the second half in front of the Paxton Road crowd.
The Spurs fans were not the only ones who seemed to be confused by the formation, as it was Everton who made all the early running, finding space down their right, as Davies struggled with his new role. It came as no surprise when McBride scored his dream debut goal, beating the sluggish Gary Doherty to Gemmill's ball, and slotting home past Kasey Keller in the tenth minute.
Spurs did get a reply out of the blue within four minutes though. Stephen Carr's cross was met by an Iversen header, which was put out for a corner, following which Simon Davies headed the ball back into the fray, and Gus Poyet diverted it out of the diving Baardsen's reach. It was not a powerful header, and was from about 12 yards, which should not have reached the net. It's goals that count though!
Everton bounced back with a Watson header from a floated ball from the right, which was pushed out by Kasey for a corner. This build-up followed a situation where Ledley had cleared his lines with a ball into space which was taken by the Everton defence and no Spurs player. Ledley was under pressure because he had no support from a left back, or an authentic wing-back at this point. Radzinski was soon threatening the Spurs goal again, with a decent shot from a deep position, which went over the bar.
After 27 minutes, Goran Bunjevcevic fed Anderton from the left, and Darren hit a powerful shot which was plucked from beneath the bar by Baardsen. A minute later, Bunjee was running goalward, when he was brought down by Gemmill just outside the box. Gemmill got a yellow card, but Anderton wasted the free kick. At the other end, Naysmith floated a free kick from the left, and Stubbs' glancing header went across the goalmouth and wide. In a similar situation for Spurs, Anderton's free kick evaded the defence and all Iversen had to do at the back post was touch the ball. It would have been in, but no he managed to mistime his jump, and leapt over the ball! It may have been at this point that the south-east corner started to sing "There's only one Sergei Rebrov". I also noticed that the crowd was fairly subdued, and the "Glenn Hoddle's Blue and White Army" chant got little airing.
Goran Bunjevcevic was harshly adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball just outside the box, but Stubbs' rocket shot went just over the corner stanchion. Just before the break there were two Carr efforts. The first was a low drive saved well by Baardsen at his near post. Then from the corner, Carr got another pop at goal, but his shot was deflected out of play.
It was Everton who had the first on-target effort after the interval, but then Spurs took the lead on 50 minutes. Anderton was given the ball just inside his won half, and quickly sent Robbie Keane away with a beautiful curving pass that came inside the defender who was left behind by Robbie's anticipation and run. After that, Robbie just had Baardsen to beat, and this time he rounded the keeper and gave himself an easy left foot finish.
The new formation seemed to give Poyet new vigour, and he linked well with the runners, ably assisted by an inspired Anderton. Poyet and Carr worked their way down the right wing before Carr crossed and Simon Davies forced an excellent save from the keeper, diving to his right to edge out the low shot. Everton were on terms too soon though. Firstly Keller did well to save at close range from Unsworth's header, but then Spurs failed to clear a corner properly, and Watson picked up the ball on the rebound and fired home from close range.
After an hour, Anderton hit a cross from the right and Gus Poyet's header was saved by Baardsen. This header was similar to his goal at Maine Road, where Gus was ahead of the ball, but had to arch back to head it. On 66 minutes, Robbie curled a shot just wide after good work by Carr and Anderton, but within two minutes he did increase his tally and restore the lead. After a throw on the right, Carr and Anderton again were the providers. Yobo over-committed himself to try and reach Anderton's ball, and Keane was able to snatch the chance, hitting home a lovely right foot 25 yard drive.
It looked for a while as Spurs would increase their lead. Davies sent a ball over the defence and Iversen was on his own. He had to act quickly, and tried to chip Baardsen with his left foot. The ball went over the bar, but it was a good effort. The visitors were allowed back into the game when Doherty backed off the advancing Li Tie, the ball ran to Radzinski in space on the left, and he scored with little of Keller's goal to aim at, squeezing a shot to Keller's right.
Acimovic replaced Iversen with ten minutes to go, but once again was not given sufficient time to impose himself. Jonathan Blondel was one of the unused subs, and it would be nice to see him get another chance soon. The winner for Spurs, and Robbie's hat-trick goal came with 7 minutes left to play. Stubbs made a hash of Doherty's header forward, and Keane was left with a run, in which he rounded two defenders, and finished with his right foot past poor Baardsen. Off he went to the corner to celebrate, and as Gus Poyet said to him afterwards when presenting Robbie with his man of the match champagne, "Thanks for coming!"
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