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Spurs v Blackburn, 13.11.10


Spurs scorers:-
Bale, 16, 75
Pavlyuchenko, 42
Crouch, 69

Blackburn scorers:-
Nelsen, 80
Givet, 90

Attendance:- 35,700

Referee:- Mr. A. Marriner
Assistants:- Mr. R. Ganfield & Mr. A. Newbold
Fourth Official:- Mr. D. Whitestone

Spurs (4-4-2):- Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Ekotto; Van der Vaart (sub Palacios, 85), Jenas, Modric (Capt.), Bale; Pavlyuchenko (sub Sandro, 89), Crouch

Subs not used:- Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong; Bentley, Kranjcar

Booked:- Modric (alleged simulation), Gallas

Blackburn (5-4-1):- Robinson; Salgado (sub El-Hadji Diouf, 37), Samba (Capt.), Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda; Emerton, Jones, Pedersen (sub Dunn, 63), Hoilett; Kalinic (sub Roberts, 45)

Subs not used:- Bunn; Hanley, Goulon, M. Diouf

Booked:- Samba (Handball), El-Hadji Diouf (foul on Bale)

Bale leads Spurs back to winning ways.

With an army of players missing, including Jermain Defoe, who we thought might have made an appearance on the bench, Harry Redknapp set his team up to attack, attack, attack Blackburn with a very welcome return to 4-4-2, despite the lack of a striker in reserve. Rafael van der Vaart held the nominal right wing position, but of course had licence to roam. He and skipper Luka Modric featured in several intricate moves as Spurs entertained their fans, but it was that man Gareth Bale who once again dominated an ageing International right back to lead Spurs to victory with two goals and an assist to boot.

That International right back was Michel Salgado, once of Real Madrid and once of Spain, with whom he won 53 full International caps. Salgado suffered at the feet of Bale in March, when Spurs ran out 3-1 winners, and he suffered again in this game, being replaced after on 37 minutes. Blackburn had started with the most defensive formation I have seen at The Lane for a considerable time with a true 5-4-1. Salgado was at right back, and there were three centre backs (Samba, Nelsen and Givet) between he and left back Pascal Chimbonda. Chimbonda was being allowed forward to support any forays Blackburn managed, but they were few and far between as the clear intention was to try and offer a brick wall defence against an attacking Spurs side. It didn’t work, and once they went behind, Sam Allardyce changed the formation, which led to more attack by the visitors and ultimately their two late goals after Spurs had taken a 4-0 lead. Both Gallas and Kaboul had to make goal-line clearances in the second half too!

As at all the grounds, there was a form of memorial before the game in honour of Remembrance Day. Spurs had soldiers present and one played “The Last Post” magnificently as the crowd held their silence. The intention and instruction had been for there to be a one minute silence after “The Last Post”, but that was one too many instructions for the crowd who misunderstood and fell into applause. The glorious dead were remembered with honour though. Spurs shirts featured poppies and will be auctioned next week in aid of the British Legion appeal.

Luka Modric was to the fore for Spurs in the early stages, and there was some great passing play from all the Spurs team. Jenas touched a free kick to Kaboul after 7 minutes, and Kaboul’s shot was deflected for a corner. Spurs won another of their corners after 15 minutes after a flowing move where Ekotto sent Jenas away down the left channel. Jenas got to the line, and his cross was put out for a corner, taken by Van der Vaart and headed powerfully home from the near post by Bale for a deserved lead.

Blackburn had to come back at Spurs then, and it was Emerton who forced his way inside and found space to test Gomes with a curling shot. Gomes pushed the ball away for a corner from which Samba headed wide. After 24 minutes, Van der Vaart fed a short ball to Pavlyuchenko, who touched it on to Crouch. Crouch was denied a possible penalty, and as the ball ran out to the edge of the area, Modric tried to carry it forward but clearly appeared to have been fouled. Referee Andre Marriner decided otherwise and booked Modric for simulation. TV replays show that this was harsh treatment indeed.

Bale left about 4 Blackburn players in his wake as he ran down the line and sent over a cross which led to a corner, after which Kaboul headed over the target. Pavlyuchenko had a clear chance to score after a mistake by a Blackburn defender left him with only Robinson to beat. Unfortunately the Russian failed with the easy chance and pushed his shot wide across the goal. Modric then sent Jenas away down the left channel, and his ball inside led to a challenge by Paul Robinson upon Peter Crouch that did lead to a penalty. Up stepped Pavlyuchenko, but Robinson had the last laugh again, as the Russian didn’t even hit the target, again firing to the goalkeeper’s right.

After Blackburn’s substitution, Chimbonda took over at right back, and one of the three centre backs (Givet) became the left back. El-Hadji Diouf was stationed in front of Chimbonda to assist him with Bale, but also to forge some more counter attacks by the visiting side. Kalinic was clever against Kaboul after 38 minutes, and turned and beat him, bringing a good save by the well-positioned Gomes. Spurs went two up just before the break after another great Bale run and his deep cross which was headed back into the net by Pavlyuchenko, thus redeeming himself in the eyes of the Spurs fans.

Kalinic was replaced by Jason Roberts at the interval. Bale received a long ball and passed inside to Modric whose shot curled away from Robinson’s left post. The keeper had the post covered anyway. At one stage in the second half he was regaled with “You’re Spurs and you know you are”, but he did not respond until the end of the game, out of respect for some 1000 travelling fans. Blackburn then had a period of pressure, winning several corners ending with a save from Samba to his left.

Some great team football by Spurs led to a shot by Gareth Bale who had worked his way to the right side of the area, hitting a cross/shot that went over the top right corner of goal. Pavlyuchenko had been fouled at some stage in the move, but the referee had allowed play to go on. There was an open exchange of play and Gallas was in the right spot to clear Pedersen’s shot off the line. Pedersen was then replaced by David Dunn. Gomes made a good save from Diouf’s shot after Rovers had worked the ball down the Spurs left flank.

Spurs got a third goal in the 69th minute, having been forced backwards before Gomes hit a long clearance. Van der Vaart controlled the ball well outside the Blackburn area and slipped it through to Pavlyuchenko, whose shot was parried by Robinson, then touched by Givet into the path of Crouch who was only too pleased to prod home his first Premier League goal of the season. Robinson was frustrated at his defender’s gaffe.

Jenas gave Pavlyuchenko another chance and Robinson palmed away the right foot shot. Spurs went four up in the 75th minute after Hutton’s cross and more close control and footwork by Van der Vaart offering Bale a quickly taken chance which had the accuracy to beat Robinson’s right hand, although the shot lacked power. It was Bale’s fourth Premier League goal and eighth goal in all competitions for Spurs so far this season.

In the 8th minute, I made the mistake of wondering aloud if Spurs could keep a clean sheet for the first time in the league since playing Man City on Day One of the season. Just as I spoke, up popped David Dunn after a free kick on the right, and his shot through a sea of legs got a touch by Ryan Nelsen, whose name therefore is credited with what was a deflected shot and a goal. Two minutes later, Younes Kaboul made an excellent goal-line block of Diouf’s shot, and we wondered if we would have to suffer more heartache.

Rafa van der Vaart was replaced by Palacios, which meant his amazing opening run of a goal in his first six home games ended there. As 5 minutes of added time approached, Spurs were pegged back again, this time by a right foot shot by Givet, after another free kick in Blackburn’s favour.

Spurs saw out the added time though, and secured a valuable three points that keeps them in touch with the top four (City only drew at home to Birmingham), and opens a little gap above the compacted league table. With that visit to The Emirates to come next Saturday, the points against Blackburn were extra special!

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