It seems that Harry Redknapp was hurt of the boos at the end of the game
in which Spurs battered at the door of the Sunderland goal and got in
once, but then left their own barn door wide open, with two defenders
letting the ball go through them, leaving Asamoah Gyan to stroll through
and knock the ball past Heurelho Gomes to win the visitors an undeserved
While Spurs failed to win in
the Premier League for a fourth game, it was not the frustration with
not getting all three points, as we are now too familiar with away team
visiting the Lane with tactics designed to thwart Spurs without offering
too much attacking intent, the fact that the Black Cats' manager
admitted as much. Much of the dissatisfaction was derived from the
lack of clean sheets that goes back to the start of the season, when
their only clean sheet was recorded against Manchester City.
The referee suffered boos too and some
were reserved for him at the end and having been found wanting in the
World Cup Final, Howard Webb compounded his failing reputation with two
crucial mis-judgements which show that he has understanding of how the
game is played is a defect in his ability to take control of a match.
His first error, in booking David Bentley
for a dive when caught by Bolo Zenden in the penalty area just after
half-time, was borne of a belief that the player was already going to
ground when the Sunderland midfielder made contact. Whether or not
Bentley was looking for the foul, it happened and contact was made, so
normally you would expect the official to point to the spot. Even
the Dutchman revealed that he expected that to be the result of his
Webb's second mistake came when he
awarded a free-kick to Spurs for what was a horror challenge by Lee
Cattermole on Luka Modric that was way above his shin-pad and was a
potential leg-breaker. With the Spurs players infuriated by the
foul, Webb thought it only worthy of a yellow card and not the red that
But even putting the refereeing
inadequacy aside, Tottenham should have taken full points from this
game, with 17 shots on target and especially in the first half, when
they dominated a Sunderland side set up with only one forward and they
rarely threatened to get the ball to him.
Modric set the tone with a half-hit shot
from just inside the box in the second minute, causing Craig Gordon to
the first of many saves in the game. Pavlyuchenko, in for Crouch,
rolled away from Bramble after taking the ball down with his chest, but
his shot went a foot wide, before Cattermole went close with a shot and
then Kieron Richardson's shot took a wicked deflection off Younes
Kaboul, leaving Gomes going the wrong way, but luckily the ball flew out
for a corner.
There was a massive scramble in the
Sunderland goalmouth after Turner kicked the ball right up in the air
and as Gordon came for it, he was challenged by van der Vaart, putting
him off enough to punch it a short distance. David Bentley hit a
shot that was blocked by Anton Ferdinand and then VDV had a go, but
Bramble got in the way of his shot. In the 17th minute, Spurs came
even closer, with Tom Huddlestone nearly repeating his effort of two
years ago (which was shown on the big screen before the game). A
corner was headed out by Ferdinand, but only to Hud and he took a first
time shot that thudded back off the angle.
It was one of the few things that
Ferdinand did during the game, as he limped off soon after, which was a
shame, as he is rubbish. He was replaced by Phil Bardsley, who is
not too much better, but he did topple Bentley and van der Vaart in
quick succession to provide Spurs with free-kicks from our right wing.
Nothing came from them though, but Alan Hutton was pushing on down the
line and nearly put Luka Modric in, but his shot was blocked by Turner,
before Rafa had two shots - one which was too high and the other a
well-worked move by Tom and Bentley, giving VDV a shooting chance from a
narrow angle on the right, with his shot sneaking inside the near post
had Gordon not managed to beat it out for a corner.
van der Vaart was at the heart of a lot
of what was good about Spurs and he linked well with Pav on the edge of
the Sunderland box, but their psychic wavelength was not in synch when
Rafa back-heeled to Pav on the edge of the box, when he was in a better
position to go for goal and the Russian had not continued his run.
Tottenham's forward surges continued and
when a free-kick was awarded on the left wing, Bentley curved a ball in
that almost caught Gordon out as it was heading under his bar, but the
keeper touched it over. Then just before the break, the winger was
on the other flank, stepped over the ball to come inside and smashed a
left foot shot at goal that the keeper did well to dive up to push out
as it headed towards the top corner of his goal.
In between, there was a rare break and
Gyan got on the end of Zenden's cross to head at goal, but Kaboul got in
the way to take any danger out of the effort.
The appearance of Ricky Villa at
half-time showed how humble some stars of the game can be compared to
many of the arrogant, over-paid stars of today and even though he was
here to plug his auto-biography, he was almost embarrassed by the fame
that still surrounds him from his 1981 FA Cup Final winning goal.
Both sides made changes at the break.
Pav made way for Crouch and the anonymous midfielder Riveros went off
with striker Danny Welbeck coming on in his place. It was a more
attacking move by Sunderland, but one which failed to spark too much
more of an attacking purpose. Inside the first five minutes of the
half, Spurs had a couple of crosses fly across goal before Hutton's ball
in from the right was headed just wide by a foot or so by van der Vaart,
but he did well, considering the ball was little behind him.
Then, in the 52nd minute, when Bentley
made his first dangerous run into the box, he was felled by Zenden, but
one of our best referees, Webb, totally got it wrong and booked Bentley
for a dive, instead of giving Rafael van der Vaart the opportunity to
keep up his record of having scored in every Spurs home game he has
played. It nearly happened for the Dutchman five minutes later,
when a downward header was pushed up over the bar by Gordon.
A long ball out of defence saw Titus
Bramble go too far under the ball and it bounced past him, allowing
Crouch to knock the ball wide to Bale, who should have gone forward in
the left hand channel for goal himself, but he went wider and tried to
return the ball in low for Crouch, but the cross was cut out.
This was a feature of Tottenham's play tonight and the early low ball
into the box paid dividends for us against Inter, but the goals that
Sunderland conceded in their 1-5 derby thrashing came from aerial
incidents and Spurs only created one serious situation like that and it
lead to the goal in the 64th minute.
BAE took the ball from Onuoha's clearance
and played in Bale, who got free on the left and his far post cross was
nodded back across the face of goal by Crouch and van der Vaart
instinctively found himself with the ball close to him inside the six
yard box. With his back to goal, letting the ball run across him,
he turned to score past the two defenders on the line and put Spurs
Not that the lead lasted for long.
And it was another poor goal to concede coming so soon after the
lackadaisical performance at Bolton on Saturday. Bentley lost the
ball on the right wing and it was fed inside to Welbeck, who played it
forward. Gallas and Kaboul were both in place to cut it out, but
neither did and the ball ran tamely though for Asamoah Gyan to have a
free run to beat Gomes from 15 yards out. It was a piece of
defending that showed that a relationship had still not developed
between the two, as one should have taken control of the situation and
put the ball in row Z.
After two goals in quick succession, the
game died a bit, with only Cattermole's crude tackle leaving Modric with
a great deal of pain and then near the end, a through ball should have
been cut out again by the Spurs defence, but Welbeck got on the end of
it, Gomes came out to challenge him and as the ball went sideways to
substitute Steed Malbranque, Gomes brought him down. It was very
close to the edge of the penalty area and there was a man covering, so a
free-kick outside the box and a booking resulted. The free-kick
hit the Spurs wall and went out for a corner that nothing came from.
As for Tottenham, they tired after
pushing forward so often in the first half and the passing became a
little more ragged, leaving Sunderland to move in offensive areas a
little more often, but they could not create too much in dangerous areas.
A disappointing point and the boos at the
end of the game might have upset Harry, but the fans are seeing Spurs
struggle to open up sides who come to the Lane set up to get a point.
It will be a test of his management to
try and break down a Blackburn side who are next up at WHL on Saturday,
as with two wins on the bounce, they will be looking for a breakaway win
against Tottenham and there will have to be either the defensive resolve
or the attacking cutting-edge to ensure they leave unhappy.