After a poor first forty five minutes Tottenham improved in the second half to claw back the deficit and score twice in ninety five seconds to defeat a determined Queen’s Park Rangers team. It was Andre Villas-Boas’ first win at White Hart Lane. Tottenham have now gone five games undefeated and have moved up to eighth position in the Premier League.
23rd September, 2012
Ninety Five Seconds of Magic to Change the Game
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Queen’s Park Rangers 1
Scorers: Opp. o.g., Defoe Zamora
Team: Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Bale; Sandro, Dembele; Lennon (Townsend), Sigurdsson (Caulker), Dempsey (Huddlestone); Defoe Subs: (unused) Lloris, Dawson, Mason, Falque
Andre Villas-Boas recalled Brad Friedel and William Gallas to the defence. He selected Gareth Bale at left back in place of the injured Kyle Naughton with Clint Dempsey playing on the left of midfield. It was the first time that Bale had played in the defensive role for two years. Queen’s Park Rangers had been hit by a number of injuries in defence and Ryan Nelsen played as did another former Spurs player, Bobby Zamora, as their lone striker.
Queen’s Park Rangers started by far the better and put Tottenham under pressure every time Spurs had the ball. Tottenham had the greater possession but could make very little use of it as they were immediately closed down by the Rangers players and given no time on the ball. This was the pattern of the first half with every loose ball being claimed by the visitors. In the opening minute Spurs mishit a clearance and the ball fell to Rangers but Sandro stepped in to clear and set Aaron Lennon off on a run. He crossed in towards Jermain Defoe but neither he nor Gylfi Sigurdsson could connect with the ball.
A fourth minute corner for Rangers was headed powerfully towards goal by Hill but Friedel reacted brilliantly to tip the ball over. Rangers had made a bright start and continued to crowd Spurs out in midfield. After eight minutes Bale delivered a great cross-field pass to Lennon but his cross was blocked for a corner. A minute later Mousa Dembele played the ball forward to Sigurdsson who released Defoe for a shot from the edge of the box. Spurs had a chance of a quick break but Walker’s cross was over hit.
A period of Rangers’ pressure saw Walker clear for a corner then he misjudged a cross after thirteen minutes which enabled Junior Hoilett to get a shot on target which Friedel saved well. Another corner followed as Spurs struggled to get a hold of the game.
Spurs only made occasional forays forward and the Rangers defenders were usually able to get in a block and clear the threat. At the other end Vertonghen had to make a good defensive clearance as Rangers continued to press. The greater threat was coming from Rangers who used the ball well although Spurs had 65% possession in the first twenty minutes. Any Spurs threat came on the right through Lennon and Walker as Bale was unable to get forward on the left from his defensive role.
Clint Dempsey had the ball in the net after thirty minutes but Defoe was offside when put through for the cross. Tottenham were getting little opportunity to play the ball about and were looking very unsure of themselves and two minutes later it became worse as Bobby Zamora scored to give Rangers a deserved lead. Spurs cleared a corner but Rangers collected the ball again and Spurs defended poorly to allow Faurlin time to play the ball back into the area where two Rangers players were waiting to put it past Friedel, with Zamora claiming the honour.
Rangers continued to press and Friedel was again called upon to make a save getting down low to a shot from distance. Spurs were dwelling on the ball and frequently dispossessed as QPR pressed them high up the pitch and forced them back. It was two minutes before the interval when Bale had the first chance to get forward on a run and his cross to the back post was cleared but it gave Spurs a short period of possession and Dembele shot over from the edge of the area. In the final seconds of the half, Sandro got forward on the right and put in a cross which Julio Cesar claimed easily with no Spurs player near – his first action of the half.
Some supporters again booed at the whistle to show their dissatisfaction but putting the players and coach under additional pressure was not going to be of any assistance to the Tottenham cause. Andre Villas-Boas made a change by bringing on Steven Caulker for his Premier League debut for Tottenham in place of Sigurdsson. Bale moved to the left of midfield with Jan Vertonghem at left back while Caulker and Gallas played in central defence. Dempsey played a more central role behind Defoe.
An early free-kick by Dempsey was headed back towards the area by Vertonghen at the back post but it was cleared. Then Hoilett got the better of Caulker but his shot was blocked. After fifty minutes a shot by Dempsey from distance was blocked by the goalkeeper and this gave Spurs some impetus. A cross by Vertonghen was parried by Cesar and from a corner a header by Caulker was cleared but when the ball bounced up and hit Wright-Phillips on the hand play was waved on. Rangers continued to chase and harry Spurs defenders, giving them no time.
After fifty eight minutes a good run and cross was cleared for Tottenham’s fifth corner. Caulker rose to head the ball back into the danger area from the corner and the ball hit Faurlin on the shoulder and into the net for Spurs’ equaliser.
In ninety five seconds Spurs had turned a deficit into the lead as Sandro broke up a Rangers attack and played the ball to Vertonghen who moved fprward at pace towards the heart of the Rangers defence with Bale and Defoe in support. On approaching the area he released Bale to his left. Bale’s powerful shot was saved by Cesar, onto the bar and came out to Defoe who claimed the 199th goal of his career. A breath-takingly swift and clinical move and finish by Tottenham.
Rangers refused to lie down and came back at Spurs. Wright-Phillips got a run on the right and crossed towards Zamora but the striker had moved in too quickly as the ball fell behind him. A shot by Dempsey went just wide and as the game became more open both sides were proving a threat to the opposing defences. Hoilett again caused a problem for Caulker but Gallas defended well in support. Spurs again had by far the greater possession in the second half (61%) to this point but Rangers were a danger when in possession.
Vertonghen was proving very dangerous with his runs on the left and he caused more alarm as his cross was blocked but it fell to Bale whose shot was saved by the goalkeeper. Then Vertonghen and Dempsey worked together from a corner for Dempsey to have a shot saved low by Cesar. Vertonghen was everywhere and saved Spurs at the other end with a critical tackle when the central defence was opened up and exposed.
A Walker cross put Rangers under pressure with Defoe and Dempsey waiting to strike but Rangers responded and Caulker had to make a good clearing header under pressure from a dangerous cross from the left. A break by Lennon played Bale in on the right but his shot was saved by the goalkeeper. Rangers broke quickly from a Spurs’ free-kick but Walker was able to clear for a corner. Then Spurs counter-attacked at pace through Dempsey who put Defoe in one on one but Hill recovered to prevent a shot on goal. Friedel was less busy in the second half coming to claim crosses to clear any threat.
In the final five minutes Spurs were anxious not to concede as has happened in three of their four matches this season but they still had opportunities to secure the victory with swift breaks from defence. Bale went out with Vertonghen in support but his cross was blocked. Then a Walker clearance gave Lennon his chance to get away but Hill defended well. In added time Sandro cleared, then Rangers had a shot wide and in the final seconds Andros Townsend broke from a Rangers free-kick to play in Defoe whose shot was saved. The final whistle brought relief to Tottenham and disappointment to Queen’s Park Rangers who had played well and could feel aggrieved that their good play had received no reward. Their search for the first win of the season continues as does their ten month search for an away win.
Jan Vertonghen was outstanding for Tottenham both in defence and as a forward threat in the second half. He is an ideal replacement for Ledley King and must surely be a future Tottenham captain. Friedel was his usual calm self with three first half saves which kept Tottenham in the game and he has no intention of handing over the goalkeeping shirt to Hugo Lloris. Caulker looked a little nervous and uncertain at the start but grew into the part and is proving a major threat at set-pieces, something Spurs haven’t had in years. Dempsey was much better after half-time in a more familiar role, wide on the left didn’t suit him and in the central role he gave support to Defoe. Sandro’s distribution was poor today but he kept going and was still breaking up dangerous attacks late in the second half. Lennon provided the main outlet in the first half and was was always dangerous but with only Defoe forward it proved difficult to get the ball to him.
The first home win is another hurdle overcome by the Head Coach who now looks forward to three away games against Carlisle United, Manchester United and Panathinaikos of Greece. This was a match of two halves – Spurs were poor in the first half but after the changes made by Villas-Boas at the interval they were much more direct and confident in their play. There’s still much work to do but at least the burden of that first home win has been lifted in what was a very entertaining London derby with both sides fully committed throughout. This was the first time in two years that Spurs have come from behind to win in the League, something they didn’t achieve last season. Another forward step has been taken by Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham team.