BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
WEDNESDAY 19TH AUGUST, 2009
HULL CITY 1 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 5 (3)
Defoe, 10, 45, 90
Referee: - Chris Foy
Attendance: - 24,735
Hull (4-4-2):- Myhill; Mouyokolo (sub Barmby, 46), Turner, Gardner, Dawson; Mendy, Olofinjana, Boateng (Capt.)(sub Ghilas, 69), Hunt; Folan, Cousin (sub Geovanni, 22)
(Armband to Turner)
Subs not used: - Duke; Zayatte, Kilbane; Halmosi
Booked: - Hunt, Turner, Folan
Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes (sub Cudicini, 16); Hutton, Corluka, Bassong, Ekotto; Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Modric (sub Bentley, 85); Keane (Capt.) (sub Crouch, 81), Defoe
(Armband to Modric, then to Defoe)
Subs not used: - Chimbonda, Naughton; O'Hara, Pavlyuchenko
Booked: - Hutton, Keane
Spurs do a number on the Humber!
When you read the comments of Phil Brown, the Hull manager, including phrases such as "We didn't apply ourselves from minute one or get close enough to Tottenham to keep ourselves in the game.", "I thought there was a gulf between the two teams in terms of class, quality and the performance." and "I thought they had everything." You realise that you have watched something special. Along with a couple of thousand other very lucky Spurs fans, I had the pleasure of watching Spurs decimate a Hull side that had given Chelsea such a stiff fight last Saturday. It was Spurs' best away league win since that famous day in May 1998, when we ensured our survival with a 6-2 win at Wimbledon. This win gave Spurs their best start since 2005-06 and 1994-95, and put them on top of the infant Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored a magnificent hat-trick, confirming his supreme scoring form shown since the pre-season started.
They say that pre-season is so important to teams, and bearing in mind that this is the first year that the current coaching staff have been in charge for that period, it seems that they have enhanced the level of fitness and sharpness on the ball in the squad, which has led to the results so far.
The only change to the team was Hutton, who played at right back, whilst Corluka covered Ledley King's place. To be honest there were times when Corluka got caught out and looked a little uncomfortable in this position, and we must hope for a return to fitness soon of Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate. Having said that, Corluka did plenty right!
Spurs gave something of a master class to the home side for the first quarter of the game, dominating possession and threat with players working tirelessly, and the likes of Modric and Lennon getting round opponents to set up a chance or two. Defoe had an early chance but hit his right foot shot wide across the goal. It wasn't long though before Jermain hit his first league goal of the season. The ever impressive Alan Hutton seemed to have been fouled on the outside of the box, but no free kick was awarded. The ball ran out to Huddlestone who fed Defoe on the left with a neat pass. Jermain hit a powerful low shot from the left of the area.
Four minutes later, Gomes flapped and fell badly after punching out a high ball. While he was on the ground, Spurs ran away with the ball through Defoe and Keane who flicked the ball to the advancing Palacios, scoring his first club goal - again from the left of the area. Gomes had to be replaced by Carlo Cudicini.
Modric had a great effort on 19 minutes, which Myhill saved and held. Spurs had been attacking at will throughout this period, and Phil Brown decided to sacrifice Cousin (who had done nothing wrong) for Geovanni who did have an immediate effect upon the home side, who became more physical and inspired. At the same time, the referee seemed to favour Hull and gave them quite a few free kicks including one needlessly conceded way out near the touch-line by Ekotto. From this kick, new boy Steven Hunt swung in a free kick, which everyone missed, including Cudicini. The ball found its way to the net without another touch, and the home fans felt some hope of a come-back.
Hutton got to the bye-line and as he cut the ball back it seemed to be handled by a Hull player on the ground. There was no penalty. At the Spurs end, Corluka was having a couple of dodgy moments, one of which came when Geovanni passed inside to Hunt, whose shot was weakened by a great tackle by Alan Hutton. Hutton had a great game defensively and going forward, making many incisive tackles in both halves. He got badly fouled by Geovanni on 33 minutes, but the referee was being lenient, only "having words" with the Hull boys. Such was the case as half-time approached when Hunt got the same leniency after a foul on Palacios. After the free kick, it was Robbie Keane who made the final pass for that man Jermain Defoe, who restored Spurs' two goal lead with a powerful drive from the right of the box.
Former Spur Nicky Barmby replaced right back Mouyokolo at half time, but it was Bernard Mendy who took up the defensive position, whilst Barmby sought to boost the midfield. The referee did now start to book players, with Hunt getting carded for another foul on Hutton, whilst Robbie Keane also saw yellow, after chasing back and fouling an opponent after not being pleased about one of the referee's decisions when he (Keane) was fouled on the attack.
For the early part of the second half, Spurs were happy to keep control, without pressing too hard. Hull were certainly making no headway. Modric showed great skill after 63 minutes to get behind the defence, but got fouled in return. Huddlestone's free kicks were often being blocked and this time the rebounds did not lead to a goal, although Ekotto was looming! Cudicini had to make a good save, flying high to his right, as Geovanni got a head to Hunt's cross, but that was the biggest threat to the Tottenham goal in this half.
Defoe ran onto a great ball through the middle, but his hat-trick effort was blocked. Then Lennon was the provider for Defoe, with another shot being put out for a corner. Robbie Keane had made the first pass to Lennon and these two were tracking back to the Spurs half regularly. There really was a lot of hard work done by every player on the pitch for Spurs. Defoe had another hat-trick chance after more preparation by Keane and Lennon, but this one went wide by a yard.
Robbie Keane scored a lovely Spurs goal from the back, after Corluka trapped, turned and passed from his own area, then Keane carried the ball into the Hull half, passing to Lennon whilst continuing his run. Lennon crossed, and Robbie had made it to the 6 yard area to hit home a fine glanced header, for arguably the goal of the game. Robbie was then replaced by Peter Crouch, who got a header on target from a Lennon cross - easily caught by Myhill.
David Bentley got a cameo appearance (for Modric), and with Lennon was an assistant for Defoe's third goal in added time. Jermain had been one of two players battling for the ball at the half-way line, and winning it too! He carried it forward, exchanged a couple of passes, then nearly burst the net with a right footed humdinger. He and Spurs will relish Sunday's visit to Upton Park.
So far this season, Spurs have played their best football, with Keane and Defoe on the pitch, when it is more necessary to play the ball to feet. This they have done successfully, with Palacios and Huddlestone passing well through the middle, and Modric and Lennon providing penetration in confined areas. The level of fitness, movement and successful pass rate has been high, but of course there will be sterner tests to come, starting with Sunday's "Derby" game.
It's certainly very, very good to be a Spur at the moment!
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