A comfortable 3-0 victory over 10-man Bolton Wanderers saw us register our best-ever run in the Premier League as we made it six consecutive wins on Saturday.
Goals from Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe – the second two coming after Bolton’s Gary Cahill had received his marching orders in the 17th-minute - also made it 11 matches unbeaten in the division to equal our previous best set between October and December in 1995. And the three points enabled us to climb up to second in the Premier League table, albeit maybe only temporarily with Manchester United playing later this afternoon.
But whereas our 1995 run of games saw us win five and draw six, it’s a very different story for the Class of 2011, who have now won 10 and drawn one of our last 11 games.
As expected, Harry made a raft of changes from Wednesday’s Europa League defeat to PAOK, but in Premier League terms, there were two changes from the side which beat West Brom last weekend, with William Gallas replacing Ledley King and Luka Modric stepping back into the line-up at the expense of Sandro.
In what was a breathless first half, it was the visitors who made the brighter start, with Gary Cahill going close in the opening minutes, latching on to a Kevin Davies header but in the seventh minute we were ahead.
Gareth Bale was released down the left, he cut the ball back for Emmanuel Adebayor who found Aaron Lennon but his shot was blocked for a corner, which Modric drilled over low to the near post and there was Bale to stick out a boot and send the ball bobbling under Jussi Jaaskelainen.
And three minutes later, Bale intercepted Cahill’s crossfield pass to break away again down the left flank, this time sending over a cross which Defoe got to first but couldn’t direct goalwards.
The drama continued on 17 minutes when Owen Coyle’s side were reduced to 10-men, the fifth time this season they have seen red. Fantastic pressure from Adebayor and Scott Parker led to a poor touch from Cahill, Parker nipped in to steal the ball away and as he broke clear, the Bolton defender upended the England midfielder. Although out wide and some way from goal, referee Stuart Attwell brandished the red card to Cahill.
From then on, it was one-way traffic as we dominated possession and created chance after chance, yet just couldn’t find that second goal, although much of that was down to Jaaskelainen. The Finnish keeper would have been disappointed with the way he conceded the first goal, but he produced a string of saves to keep the score at 1-0 at the interval.
First he denied Defoe from close range on 25 minutes after smart work down the right from Modric and Lennon, kept out Adebayor from eight yards after the striker was slipped in by Parker’s pass and then produced a fine double save on 34 minutes, initially denying Bale and then somehow diverting Defoe’s shot from inside the six yard box wide for a corner.
As the chances went begging, Bolton still posed a threat despite their man disadvantage, with Brad Friedel needing to scuttle back and tip over a deflected Chris Eagles shot, while Dedryck Boyata had a header saved and Younes Kaboul made a smart block on the edge of the box to prevent Mark Davies’ effort doing any damage.
Adebayor spurned two further chances late in the half and as the whistle went at the interval, quite how it was only 1-0 was something of a mystery.
Fortunately though, we only needed five minutes of the second half to double our advantage with another of those lightning quick breaks. After a brief spell of Bolton pressure, Walker popped the ball infield to Adebayor who moved it on to Defoe, he knocked it out wide to Lennon and the flying winger cut onto his right foot and fired home from just inside the box, Jaaskelainen this time well beaten.
Eleven minutes later, Defoe got in on the act with his 109th goal for Spurs and it was as simple as you like. Another corner from Modric was flicked on at the near post by Bale and there was our England striker, four yards out to prod the ball home for 3-0.
Once again it was just wave after wave of Spurs attacks as we made full use of our extra player, but time and again we found that man Jaaskelainen in the way, saving long-range efforts from Modric and Bale, while also denying Parker his first goal in a Spurs shirt.
Defoe went close on 77 minutes, firing against the foot of the post from 10 yards out after substitute Rafael van der Vaart, on for Lennon, found him with a slide-rule pass, before Bolton had their first shot in anger of the second period, Nigel Reo-Coker drilling an effort just wide of Friedel’s right-hand upright from 20 yards.
To be fair to the visitors, they kept plugging away and went close again on 82 minutes when Eagles’ corner was headed goalwards by David Ngog, but Modric was waiting on the line and cleared the danger.
The last action of the game saw Defoe once again denied by Bolton’s keeper, who had an impressive afternoon between the sticks, but by this stage we were home and dry with that record-breaking sixth straight win under our belts.
Spurs (4-4-2): Friedel; Walker, Kaboul, Gallas, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon (van der Vaart 72), Parker (Livermore 85), Modric, Bale; Defoe, Adebayor. Subs (not used): Cudicini, Corluka, Bassong, Pienaar, Pavlyuchenko.
Bolton (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Boyata; Eagles, Muamba (Steinsson 27), Reo-Coker, Davies M; Klasnic (Ngog 72), Davies K (Pratley 62). Subs (not used): Bogdan, Petrov, Tuncay, Kakuta.
Goals: Spurs – Bale 7, Lennon 50, Defoe 61
Referee: Stuart Attwell