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REPORT: DERBY 0, SPURS 3

Posted on 9 February 2008  - 12:00

Robbie Keane's 19th goal of the season and goals from Younes Kaboul and Dimitar Berbatov sealed a deserved 3-0 victory over Derby County at Pride Park.

Robbie Keane's 19th goal of the season and goals from Younes Kaboul and Dimitar Berbatov sealed a deserved 3-0 victory over Derby County at Pride Park.

It was certainly a hard-fought win and relative comfort was only achieved in the 81st minute when Kaboul shook the netting in front of the Spurs support, a moment that drained the spirit out of a Derby side who had been highly competitive up to that point.

Kenny Miller did force Radek Cerny into some eventually meaningless action on four minutes, but it was a smart save nonetheless, with the impetus taken out of it by a late flag. Darren Bent then warmed the hands of Roy Carroll at the other end with a drive from an angle following a counter-attack initiated by Jermaine Jenas getting the better of Robbie Savage.

The former Manchester United keeper moments later made an excellent stooping stop to deny Keane's measured low shot from nestling in the bottom corner.

The game strangely lost two central defenders early on, first off was Darren Moore for the home side and then Michael Dawson - Andy Todd and Kaboul were summoned for an unexpected extended afternoon on the pitch.

Midway through the half Derby should have been celebrating an advantage. Kevin Boateng gave the ball away in midfield and Stephen Pearson sped forward before releasing Giles Barnes in front of goal. The wideman attempted and succeeding in steering past Cerny, but also managed to steer around the upright.

Referee Mr Atkinson made a completely incorrect call at the half hour mark when a Steed Malbranque supplied Bent break resulting in Aaron Lennon picking up the ball on the edge of the area and being cleaned out by Todd - nothing given.

Lennon's cross soon after gave Kaboul the chance for a prod on goal with Carrol equal to the challenge, but the first half could in no way be described as a festival of free-flowing football because it was scrappy.

Jamie O'Hara was introduced at the beginning of the second half in place of Boateng, but it was Derby who created the first half chance after the re-start with a Craig Fagan snapshot that was foiled by Cerny.

Charging towards the end heavily populated by Spurs people, Alan Hutton screwed his shot wide after Jenas played the ball into his path before a Carroll stop thwarted Huddlestone' attempt to net against his former club.

It was time for Dimitar Berbatov on 57 minutes, with Bent withdrawn after playing his first game since December 15 at Portsmouth, but it was the home side who were cranking up the pressure at this point in the contest.

Keane struck a post at the end of a passage of play that resulted in a flag being held aloft before the breakthrough was made with 67 minutes showing on the clock.

It was the industry of Malbranque cutting in from the left that carved out the opening, his shot only being pushed away by Carroll and the loose ball was seized upon by Keane who tapped in No.19 for the season before sharing his celebrations with the travelling thousands.

Carroll then made a double save from Jenas and Berbatov to prevent a doubling of the advantage before an O'Hara cross should probably have been tucked away by the Bulgarian.

On 81 minutes it was two and victory confirmed when, from a Lennon corner and a dinked header from Pascal Chimbonda, Kaboul brilliantly sidestepped his marker Miller and fired past Carroll.

The third goal arrived in injury time when Mabranque's cross was handled by Fagan and Berbatov made the penalty look easy. A deserved win.