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Posted on 7 May 2007  - 12:00

Jermain Defoe's late strike and a wonderful opener from Dimitar Berbatov took us a step nearer European qualification with a 2-0 win at Charlton on Monday night.

Jermain Defoe's late strike and a wonderful opener from Dimitar Berbatov took us a step nearer European qualification with a 2-0 win at Charlton on Monday night.

Berbatov stamped his class on the encounter as early as the seventh minute with a fine solo goal before Defoe's 20-yarder looped over Scott Carson to secure the three points in injury time.

Martin Jol made two changes to the side that started up at Middlesbrough last time out, with Aaron Lennon and Teemu Tainio returning to the team in place of Hossam Ghaly and Steed Malbranque.

It was a fairly highly charged atmosphere inside the ground ahead of kick-off as the home club sought to stir up the crowd with a spot of opera in a bid to help the team stave off relegation. A rendition of Nessun Dorma was the final salvo before referee Mr Halsey sounded the whistle to begin Charlton's final home game of the season.

There was plenty of snap and crackle in the early exchanges, with Tainio providing most of the bite from our midfield quartet that was anchored by Didier Zokora, with Jermaine Jenas his speedy sidekick in the middle.

The stage was set to see who would net our 100th goal of the season in all competitions and we had to wait until just over six minutes to discover who would score the milestone goal. Ledley King set Berbatov on a sprint down the left flank and the striker went on to spin Talal El Karkouri before accelerating past the defender and slipping the ball beyond Carson.

It was an 11th league goal of the season for Berbatov and his 22nd in total. The Bulgarian, jointly named Barclays Player of the Month with Robbie Keane over the weekend, also had two of his goals nominated for Match of the Day's Goal of the Month competition for April.

It is the first time for 20 years that in excess of 100 goals have been recorded in a season, the previous time being the 1986-87 campaign when Clive Allen accounted for 49 of the of 109 in 57 games.

Charlton were rocking and further punishment needed to be administered to a team that would surely rally at some point.

Tainio had a shot gathered by Carson before a minor scare at the other end - via a set-piece - resulted in Paul Robinson foiling El Karkouri. Charlton began to pose something of a threat as the clock ticked towards the half hour point and Zheng Zhi did have a good chance to level from inside the area. Eight minutes before the break Darren Bent rounded Robinson, who forced him wide, and the England striker crossed onto the head of Alexandre Song. The Cameroon midfield man leapt into the air after his effort, but out of frustration and not joy as his header drifted wide.

Berbatov provided Carson with a little test in the opening minutes of the second half with a shot from distance, with the beginning of the second period seeing one change in the shape of Anthony Gardner for Ricardo Rocha, who appeared to be struggling with an injury.

There were a couple of close calls for Charlton, who were not enjoying the territory they required with 30 minutes remaining in their penultimate game of the season. They regularly looked like they might concede further goals, but the final pass from our own team saw us not gain the advantage that the control exerted in the game perhaps deserved.

There was a big shout for a penalty against Michael Dawson when the centre half took the ball in a challenge against Zheng Zhi and Keane was then forced to clear his lines under considerable pressure from the resulting corner.

Lennon was replaced by Malbranque with 29 minutes remaining before Charlton went for broke with the introduction of strikers Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Lloyd Sam - with only one forward making way.

The boys continued to hold sway in a contest that didn't really have the do or die feel to it that you might have expected from the home perspective. There was resignation in the stands and it was the noise from the travelling Spurs army that filled the air as we sought a fifth away win of the season.

King deflected Sam's effort just wide and Keane hacked away from a dangerous spot but the home side were simply launching it forward in the latter stages, Dawson and King mopped up manfully.

Indeed, there were a number of chances for us to counter and we finally put Charlton to the sword as the clock ticked into added time. Defoe made a vital touch to Berbatov centrally and the striker returned the compliment perfectly, 'JD' then ran 20 yards or so before taking aim, the ball flicking up off Diawara, over Carson and home. Job done.

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