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Spurs v Anorthosis Famagusta, 20.09.07


Spurs scorers:-
Kaboul, 5
Dawson, 40
Keane, 42
Bent, 43
Defoe 65, 90

Famagusta scorer:-
Zlogar, 81

Referee: - Mr. P. Dondarini (Italy)

Attendance: - 35,780

Spurs (4-4-2):- Cerny; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul, Ekotto (sub Bale, 80); Lennon, Zokora, Huddlestone, Malbranque (sub Taarabt, 69); Bent, Keane (Capt.) (sub Defoe, 62)
(Armband to Dawson)

Subs not used: - Robinson; Rocha; Jenas; Berbatov

No bookings

Famagusta (4-1-4-1):- Beqaj; Poursaitidis, Katsavakis, Lambrou, Lompoutis; Skopelitis; Fabinho (sub Pahars, 64), Zlogar (sub Deyanov, 81), Nicolaou (Capt) (sub Panagi, 57), Boaventura; Sosin
(Armband to Katsavakis)

Subs not used: - Nagy; Tripotseris, Konstantinou; Frousos,

Booked: - Fabinho (Diving)

Spurs substitute Jermain Defoe put the icing on the cake and the cherry on top with two superb goals to give Martin Jol (if not hundreds of thousands) at least several thoughts about his striker selection for Sunday’s crucial Premier League game at Bolton. After a long gap between the first and second of four first half goals, Spurs cruised through this first leg, but it was Defoe’s class which gave this match its talking point and Martin Jol a dilemma he will publicly say he relishes, but privately may struggle to justify omitting Defoe from the next game. Defoe’s strike ratio is clearly the highest of the four at his disposal!

Jol took the opportunity to rest Young-Pyo Lee completely, and leave Robinson, Jenas and Berbatov on the bench, whilst Aaron Lennon made a welcome start – and played on the right wing! – with Benoit Assou-Ekotto playing his first game since February this year. Ekotto had a good game too, not that anyone was sorely tested at the back, but he made a decent impact at the front, delivering the ball for Robbie Keane’s first club goal of the season. Radek Cerny showed what he can do with short and accurate distribution, leading to at least one of the Spurs goals, and Didier Zokora played beside Tom Huddlestone.

It seems fickle to criticise any member of the Spurs team last night, but both Zokora and Huddlestone got into good shooting positions on plenty of occasions last night, but rarely took the responsibility on. Zokora did have a decent first half effort go a yard wide, but they both frustrated at times. Hudd showed plenty of class though with many accurate passes, but of course all this has to be measured against what really was poor opposition.

Famagusta were well supported (the best Spurs chant of the night was “You only live round the corner!”), and adopted a defensive approach with a lone striker in Sosin. It was their top scorer – Anton Zlogar – who got their consolation goal, but he played in the 4 man midfield in front of Skopelitis, trying to hold up the play in front of his defence. To be fair, the visitors did well for 35 minutes after Younes Kaboul gave Spurs an early lead with a powerful near post header from a 5th minute corner. Kaboul had a free kick deflected out for another corner soon after his goal too. Darren Bent was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after 10 minutes, when he was onto a good through ball.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Famagusta had one or two efforts floated into dangerous areas, and won a corner or two. Malbranque led a Spurs break from one such corner, passing to Lennon whose shot was blocked and then not met by Robbie Keane. Keane then had a shot saved by Beqaj’s foot, after a good ball by Malbranque playing well down the left side. Good play by Lennon and Keane after 28 minutes gave Spurs another chance. Lennon flicked the ball back to Robbie, who was goal-side and saw his shot beaten away. Ekotto returned the ball in and Darren Bent hit a reflex shot over the bar. Things were not going quite right for Bent, but he was to get his second goal of the season before the break.

Brazilian winger Fabinho got the one yellow card of the night from Mr. Dondarini (who has an aptitude for more cards in a game) for diving, before Malbranque received from Zokora and hit a shot straight at the keeper. Now Spurs went into overdrive with three goals in as many minutes before the interval. Firstly Michael Dawson got his knee on the end of Chimbonda’s head down from a corner, then Keane controlled Ekotto’s low ball, flicking it up for himself and striking the ball first time just inside the keeper’s left hand post.

Cerny had to get down to save from Fabinho, but his ball out led to Huddlestone’s effective ball towards the Famagusta area, where the defence messed up, and Bent was the fastest to the finish, firing home from a narrow angle inside the 6 yard box. The total distance of his two goals so far for Spurs must be 5 yards, but he’ll be happy!

Three minutes after the break, a Huddlestone corner from the north-west flag reached Keane at close range. His effort was cleared only as far as Chimbonda, who fired over. Spurs were not over-stretching themselves, and their next good move came after 59 minutes, thanks to Huddlestone’s skill in the middle and a lay-off for Robbie, who fired through the middle straight at Beqaj. Now Robbie was replaced by Defoe, who was received with great affection and enthusiasm by the crowd. That adoration was to be rewarded with the classiest goal of the night, and indeed the Spurs season so far, when Defoe received the ball on the right channel outside the box, saw the keeper slightly off his line and favouring the left side of his goal. Jermain delivered a beautiful deft chip shot to the far corner in front of the delirious Paxton Road crowd. Defoe was quite rightly lauded by his team-mates, being hoist aloft in the north-west corner.

The Famagusta goal came immediately after Gareth Bale had replaced Ekotto, and before Spurs had adjusted their formation. The Cypriots had a free kick from the right touch-line. The ball was prodded through a sea of legs by Zlogar, and although Cerny got a touch, the ball hit the net to at least give the away fans something to cheer. It is surely not an away goal that will be of any significance!

Spurs had not finished though, and it was Defoe again, this time from the left side, giving himself a couple of touches and hitting a typical cracker of a shot to make it 6-1. Jermain didn’t exactly kiss the badge, but he did tug the shirt, and he has already demonstrated his willingness to battle for a regular place in the Spurs side. In a game where there were plenty of good Spurs performances, Defoe wins my man of the match award for those two touches of sheer class.

Spurs hit six for the first time since September 2004 (at Oldham, when Keane and Defoe were also on the sheet). The previous such occasion was against Sam Allardyce’s Bolton in December 2001, and this result is a great morale booster for Sunday’s game.

It was also nice to think of Famagusta’s manager Temuri Ketsbaia being on the receiving end of a 6-1, as he had taken part in Newcastle’s demolition of Spurs in the 1999-2000 FA Cup by the same score. Substitute Marians Pahars had experienced heavy defeat at White Hart Lane before, when Spurs beat Southampton 7-2 in March 2000

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