the quickest goals ever seen at White Hart Lane gave Spurs the
foundation they needed to earn a victory over high-flying Portsmouth and
secure a valuable three points to take them out of the bottom three
Murphy had a good game until
his legs went, which is exactly what happened with Didier Zokora for the
second goal, but more of that later.
Spurs got off a just the start they wanted,
with Murphy, Defoe and Berbatov linking to send Jermain wide and his
cross was headed at goal by the Bulgarian striker. David James
saved it, but could only drop the ball right in the centre of the goal
and as Glen Johnson tried to shield it for the keeper to pick up, it
squirmed away and Murphy showed the presence of mind to execute a neat
back heel over the line from a foot or so out.
It was a surprise that it took only 43 seconds
after 433 League minutes without a goal, but in the next minute, Paul Robinson
had to carefully watch a Kanu looping header and touch it over the bar.
At the other end, James also had to pull off a fine save and it was to
deny Murphy again, as he took the ball from a short corner routine and
curled a left footer towards the top corner. His fingertips just
managed to tip the ball over the top.
Jermain Defoe looked livelier than of late and
when Ghaly set him up, he got a shot on target, although it failed to
worry James and later, he was involved in a move to lay the ball into
Zokora's path, but the resulting effort went well wide. When Defoe
played Didier in again, he burst into the area and turned as Mendes
closed in on him and went to ground. At the ground and from a long
way away, it looked like a penalty and although Mendes was distraught,
not many other players complained that vociferously. On TV
afterwards, it was clear that no contact was made and I would not like
to see this become a feature of Didier's game, as he looks a class
player and gets knocked off the ball unfairly enough, as his pace makes
it difficult for opponents to take it off him by fair means.
The ref was sure and so was Defoe, as he
grabbed the ball and fired it low past the advancing James to make it
But you know Tottenham. Just when it
looked like it was going so well, Assou-Ekotto showed a bit of
inexperience and stood off O'Neil, who knocked a right wing cross into
the danger zone and Dawson lost Kanu, who headed powerfully past
Robinson. It was a cheap goal to concede just six minutes before
At the start fo the second half, Chimbonda
failed to appear and he was replaced by Huddlestone, who slipped into
midfield, with Ghaly going to right back. It looked like an odd
move, as Huddlestone might have been employed in the defence, with Ghaly
retaining his position on the right of midfield. The side
certainly looked to have a better balance in the first half, but in the
second, Portsmouth got a grip and pushed Spurs back, trying to exploit
the unfamiliar position Ghaly found himself in.
Kranjcar especially perked up and took the ball
into forward positions on their left and tried to hit the target at
every opportunity. Not remembering him as an outstanding player in
the World Cup, he showed he might be a growing influence in the
Portsmouth side. To further increase the pressure on that side,
Stefanovic was replaced by the more attacking Taylor and the flagging
Sean Davis made way for the striker Benjani.
Zokora seems to be getting better by the day.
He launches into runs from deep in his own half and ends up laying the
ball off for team-mates to have shots, as he did with Berbatov, although
his effort was blocked for a corner. Sometimes you wish Didier
would have a shot himself, but when you know he scored once in two years
for St. Etienne and you have seen his shooting, you know why !!!
He could become the new Stefan Freund in that department !!
Jenas was showing his excellent energy and kept
going right until the final whistle. He got on the end of a move
when Murphy's ball in to King was laid back to him and he curled a shot
that James did well to keep out, but you wished that Jermaine had stuck
a bit more force behind it. He also had another shooting
opportunity right on the edge of the box, but a bad bounce just as he
was about to strike it, summed up his luck at the moment. He also
had a great run in injury time, where he weaved his way into the area,
but once there lacked the help and the composure to finish it, ending
with him shooting over the bar after he had held onto the ball really
A bit of pinball in the Spurs box with 15
minutes to go caused some palpitations, but, as always, Michael Dawson
was there to block the shot from Benjani. It was his last
meaningful action, because as he rose to head another cross away, he got
Huddlestone's head at the same time and they both fell to the ground.
Tom got up with his head wrapped in vinegar and brown paper, while
Dawson toddled off with the help of two of the Spurs medical staff.
Davenport came on to take his place and did well against the physical
presence that Portsmouth were piling into the box to get on the end of
some long balls.
The game was quite open at this stage and Defoe
ran from halfway to jig round S. Cumball and Matthew Taylor before
hitting a shot that James kept out as it flashed across him. With
five minutes added time, Portsmouth threw everything at Spurs and when a
long right wing cross was flung in, Lua Lua got free at the far post and
only a fine save from Robinson to keep his firm header out kept the
three points with Spurs.
It was an important win for Spurs so early in
the season, as we can't fall any further behind those above us.
Not that we are likely to catch the top teams, but we are still a little
way off that. The need to start gathering points now, while we
have a run of winnable games (although Villa will be a tough one now),
And the fact that we played a lot better today
and looked nicely balanced until injury hit (again). Let's hope
that this is the start of a run that moves us up the table to more
familiar echelons !!