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Back to winning ways!

Posted on 13 November 2010  - 12:00

Two goals from Gareth Bale and further strikes from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch helped us to a vital first league win in five against Blackburn at the Lane.

Back to winning ways!

Two goals from Gareth Bale and further strikes from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch helped us to a vital first league win in five against Blackburn at the Lane.

A key early goal from the in-form Bale set the tone, with Pavlyuchenko making up for a penalty miss to give us a 2-0 lead at the break.

Crouch scored his first league goal of the season to make it three during a spell of Blackburn pressure before Bale scored his second to put the game out of sight.

And despite a late rally from the visitors, who netted through Ryan Nelsen and Gael Givet, it was a much-improved performance from Harry Redknapp's side.

He opted to revert to the 4-4-2 formation that served him so well last season with Crouch joining Pavlyuchenko, who had shaken off a back injury, up front.

It meant four across midfield, with Bale and Rafael van der Vaart on the flanks, and Luka Modric alongside Jermaine Jenas in the middle, who came in for the injured Tom Huddlestone.

Blackburn, meanwhile, lined up with an ultra-defensive 5-4-1 system, no doubt in the knowledge that we often struggle to break down teams who come to the Lane and shut up shop.

So it was vitally important that we got an early breakthrough and that is what happened after 15 minutes.

We got behind their brick wall defence for the first time through Jenas, who forced a corner from which Bale powered home from Van der Vaart's delivery at the near post with his head.

A Bale headed goal something of a collector's item, but it shaped this game.

Blackburn now knew they had to emerge from the comfort of their own half to stand any chance of taking something away from N17.

They went close when Brett Emerton forced a save out of Heurelho Gomes on 22 minutes and Christopher Samba sent a looping header wide from the resultant corner.

But as a result of the visitors coming out of their shell, we were finding far more freedom going forward.

On 26 minutes, it was a case of déjà vu as Modric went down in the box under a challenge of Michel Salgado but was booked for diving by referee Andre Marriner rather than awarded a penalty - much as had happened to David Bentley here against Sunderland during the week.

However, we didn't have to wait long before a spot-kick was given to the home side, although it is unclear to see whether it was awarded for Phil Jones' foul on Jenas or Paul Robinson's trip on Crouch.

Nonetheless, Pavlyuchenko stepped up and put it wide of the post - compounding an earlier miss when he had gone one-on-one with Robinson but put over.

His afternoon had to improve, and it certainly did when the Russian gave us a 2-0 lead, heading home at the back post from Bale's deep cross three minutes before the break.

Gomes had only had one save of note to make at the other end from Nikola Kalinic and things were looking good at half-time with Blackburn having sacrificed Salgado for El-Hadj Diouf in a more attacking formation.

At the beginning of the second period we looked to go back on the front foot, with Modric and Bale both having attempts at goal before the visitors enjoyed a spell that could have put them back in the game.

The in-form battering ram that is Jason Roberts had come on for Kalinic at the break and was proving a handful before William Gallas was forced to clear off the line from a Morten Gamst Pedersen effort.

Roberts then linked up well with Diouf to send him in behind to force a save out of Gomes on 67 minutes, and as we all know, 2-0 is a dangerous lead.

So the 3-0 scoreline made far better viewing on the giant scoreboards after we scored against the run of play to put the game out of sight just moments later.

Pavlyuchenko forced a save out of Robinson with a low shot, and Givet was too slow to react to the rebound with Crouch sliding in to put past our former goalkeeper.

A much-needed league goal for the big man and a real hammer blow to any chances of a Blackburn comeback.

Robinson, to his credit, was doing his utmost to keep his side from suffering a heavier defeat, making excellent saves from Crouch and Pavlyuchenko in the second half.

But he could only watch as Van der Vaart knocked down Alan Hutton's cross for Bale to almost scuff home his second of the match low into the bottom corner with 15 minutes left.

Blackburn did rally again late on with a David Dunn shot on the edge of the box deflecting in off team-mate Nelsen before Givet hammered another past Gomes as we failed to deal with a deep free-kick.

But when all was said and done, it was a much-needed victory with a string of key games coming up.


Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Hutton, Gallas, Kaboul, Assou-Ekotto; van der Vaart (Palacios, 85), Jenas, Modric, Bale; Crouch, Pavlyuchenko (Sandro, 89)
Subs not used: Cudicini, Bassong, Corluka, Bentley, Kranjcar

Blackburn (5-4-1): Robinson; Salgado (E-H Diouf, 37), Samba, Nelsen, Givet, Chimbonda; Emerton, Jones, Pedersen (Dunn, 62), Hoilett; Kalinic (Roberts, 46)
Subs not used: Bunn, Hanley, Goulon, M-B Diouf

Goals: Spurs - Bale 16, Pavlyuchenko 42, Crouch 69, Bale 75. Rovers - Nelsen 80, Givet 90.

Attendance: 35,700.

Referee: Mr A Marriner.