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Massive result

Posted on 27 January 2009  - 12:00

Harry Redknapp's side picked up a vital three points in our battle to avoid relegation with a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Stoke City at White Hart Lane.

Massive result

Harry Redknapp's side picked up a vital three points in our battle to avoid relegation with a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Stoke City at White Hart Lane.

First half goals from Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson gave us a 3-0 lead at the break, which should have put the game out of sight.

But the visitors did rally in the second half, clawing one back through James Beattie although creating little else as we climbed up to 13th in the Barclays Premier League table.

Carlo Cudicini made his debut in goal following his move from Chelsea the day before, while there were a further three changes to the outfield personnel defeated at Manchester United in the FA Cup at the weekend.

Redknapp reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation, with Jonathan Woodgate coming back in to skipper the side at centre-half alongside Dawson. Vedran Corluka switched to right-back in place of Chris Gunter.

Lennon came in for Gareth Bale on the left of midfield, while Defoe returned to the starting XI in place of Tom Huddlestone to partner Roman Pavlyuchenko up-front.

And we made a bright start, with Luka Modric going close with a shot from the edge of the box after just three minutes.

At the other end, Benoit Assou-Ekotto had to be alert to clear Ryan Shawcross' header off the line from Matthew Etherington's corner.

But any nerves we may have had going into such an important game were calmed after eight minutes, when we took the lead.

Defoe attacked goal and switched the play to Lennon, who ran at his back-tracking defender before finding the space to fire home underneath Thomas Sorensen. It was just the start we needed.

Stoke were far from deflated by this, however, and managed to regroup. But the closest they came before we got our second was when Shawcross again climbed to meet Etherington's in-swinging free-kick to head onto the roof of the net.

Then, on 21 minutes, a neat passing move involving Didier Zokora, Modric and Pavlyuchenko resulted in the latter playing in his strike-partner Defoe to finish emphatically.

It was Jermain's third goal in five games since rejoining the Club from Portsmouth earlier this month.

Now the visitors were reeling, and three minutes later we had a three-goal cushion when Dawson popped up to score his second of the season.

David Bentley had seen his free-kick from the edge of the box tipped over by Sorensen before playing the resulting corner short to Modric, who crossed for the defender to head firmly home.

Tony Pulis' side appeared bereft of confidence and we continued to dominate for the rest of the half.

On 28 minutes, Lennon reached the by-line and pulled back for Defoe, whose shot beat Sorensen but not covering defender Andy Wilkinson on the line.

And Pavlyuchenko also went close on the stroke of half-time when he superbly took down a high ball and fired just wide of the post from the edge of the box.

Cudicini had not had a save to make throughout the opening period, and his first bit of action came seven minutes after the break.

Beattie curled a free-kick around the wall from the edge of the box, but the Italian did well to hold despite no doubt being unsighted.

However, there was little he could do when Stoke did manage to pull a goal back through Beattie on 57 minutes.

Dawson gave the ball away to Etherington, who played a sublime ball directly into the path of the England international striker, who held off Woodgate to finish low into the bottom corner.

The challenge for us now was to not let the visitors get any further back into the game, and although little was created during the remainder of the game, it was mission accomplished in that sense.

Stoke did come close to a second six minutes from time when Richard Cresswell glanced an Andy Griffin cross inches wide, but overall we were comfortable.

A special mention must go to Modric, who was outstanding on the night, but the most important aspect to this game was the three points.

Spurs (4-4-2): Cudicini; Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto; Bentley, Zokora, Modric, Lennon (Huddlestone, 90); Pavlyuchenko (Campbell, 90), Defoe
Subs not used: Alnwick, Bale, Giovani, Taarabt, Rocha

Stoke (4-4-2): Sorensen; Wilkinson (Griffin, 46), Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye (Sonko, 46), Higginbotham; Delap, Whelan, Amdy Faye (Fuller, 49), Etherington; Cresswell, Beattie
Subs not used: Simonsen, Lawrence, Kitson, Pugh