Tottenham scored three goals in a home win for the first time in the Premier League since last March. A first half penalty by Roberto Soldado was followed up in the second half by goals from Mousa Dembele and Aaron Lennon in a match which Spurs controlled and dominated throughout the ninety minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur 3 Stoke City 0
Scorers: Soldado (pen), Dembele, Lennon
Team: Lloris, Naughton, Dawson, Chiriches, Fryers, Lennon (Lamela), Paulinho (Capoue), Dembele, Eriksen, Adebayor (Chadli), Soldado Subs: Friedel, Fredericks, Veljkovic, Bentaleb
Tim Sherwood made five changes to the team which drew against West Brom. Kyle Naughton replaced the suspended Kyle Walker and Zeki Fryers came in for the injured Danny Rose. Paulinho and Mousa Dembele started in place of Lewis Holtby and Gylfi Sigurdsson respectively while Aaron Lennon came in for Nacer Chadli. The three younger players who were included among the substitutes for the last game retained their places.
The Stoke team included two former Tottenham players – Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch with Matthew Etherington on the bench.
Tottenham dominated the first half, having 70% possession but could only score one goal – a penalty from Roberto Soldado after 36 minutes. It was Soldado who had played a cross to Emmanuel Adebayor inside the Stoke box. His strike partner controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed it towards goal, hitting the arms of Ryan Shawcross, stretched high above his head. Soldado coolly converted the spot kick for a deserved Spurs lead.
Spurs started the game quickly but were frustrated by a determined Stoke team who defended doggedly. A lack of quality in the final cross and pass made the visitors task easier and Sorensen had little to do except catch the occasional cross. On other occasions Stoke managed to have defenders back to cover.
On the break Stoke were dangerous with Walters causing Fryers a problem in the opening minutes. Paulinho was creative in the middle of the pitch making space for others with delicate passes and touches while looking for the return pass. He was often the Tottenham player furtherest forward but the crosses into the box were either cleared by the defender or too high for everyone.
Emmanuel Adebayor worked hard, covering back into midfield and had a chance after 14 minutes following good work on the right by Kyle Naughton and a cross from Lennon but he sliced his shot and although it fell towards Christian Eriksen it was cleared by the goalkeeper. Two minutes later it was Soldado who missed a good scoring opportunity when played in by a flick on from Paulinho but he shot across goal and wide of the far post.
In a rare Stoke attack, they could have been awarded a penalty when Dawson challenged Assaidi who made a run from deep into the Spurs area. After their domination Spurs would have been disappointed to be only one goal ahead at the interval.
The second half continued in a similar vein but with Spurs taking almost total control of the game. Paulinho had an early shot but it went over and Eriksen shot low from 30 yards but it was straight at the goalkeeper. Stoke’s first attempt at goal came after 55 minutes from a free-kick from 30 yards but Adam’s shot went wide. Two minutes later Demblele broke from midfield and played the ball to Lennon whose cross found Soldado but he shot weakly into the hands of the goalkeeper.
After an hour, a high cross into the Spurs area towards Crouch saw Hugo Lloris flap at the ball but it went across goal for a goal kick. Two minutes later Eriksen had a low shot saved by Sorensen and then Dembele added the second on 64 minutes. Soldado, wide on the right, played the ball in to Dembele who took it forward and across goal to work some space for himself before shooting across goal and into the net. Spurs and Tim Sherwood could breathe more easily now.
Five minutes later it was 3 – 0. Lennon’s first goal of the season as he maintained his record that Spurs have never lost when he has scored. The goal came from good approach work by Adebayor. He brought the ball from midfield and played it to the left where Soldado played a cross into the area, Adebayor touched it but it fell for Lennon who controlled the ball and volleyed it across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Spurs were now in complete control with Stoke penned back in their own half and rarely able to get forward. Erik Lamela played some nice touches when he came on and nearly scored with his first touch when played in by Adebayor but the goalkeeper made a save. Adebayor shot over and so in charge were Spurs that they had 20 attempts on goal to Stoke’s 2 with only one on target. Spurs had seven efforts on target from 68% possession.
Spurs have a much needed home win which will encourage and boost their morale as they face two difficult away games in the next week at Old Trafford and in the FA Cup at the Emirates. The team played with a more positive and free-flowing style and in the second half the defence were more composed and able to nullify any Stoke forward movement before it started.
A pleasing result to end 2013 on the up as Spurs move up to 7th, above Newcastle and behind United on goal difference.