Spurs too good for 10-man Boro
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 28/11/04 4:57pm
Tottenham won their first game in three months with a 2-0 victory over ten-man Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane.
The turning point of the game came just before the interval when referee Phil Dowd sent off Franck Queudrue for a two-footed challenge on Noe Pamarot - much to the annoyance of Boro.
The game was an equal contest to that point, but the visitors were unable to cope with their numerical handicap and Spurs dominated thereafter with the ubiquitous Jermain Defoe and Frederic Kanoute grabbing the goals.
The game was a scrappy affair for most of the first half with neither side dominating.
Boro were tentatively attacking down either flank with both Stewart Downing and Ray Parlour creating a couple of decent chances.
The first effort came from Parlour - whose Arsenal connections earned him constant booing throughout the game - when he picked up a Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink knockdown, but he pulled his shot wide.
Defoe then stretched his legs for the first time and won a free kick 30 yards from goal. He dusted himself down to take the resulting chance - his original effort was blocked, but he picked up the rebound which he fired just wide of Mark Schwarzer's right-hand post.
Spurs began to pressurise the Middlesbrough goal for a sustained period and Michael Carrick fired an effort straight at Schwarzer.
Defoe again threatened, this time after nice link-up play from Reto Ziegler and Robbie Keane saw the England forward race into the area, but he blasted over under pressure.
Hasselbaink then tried an effort just inside Spurs' half as he looked to catch Paul Robinson off his line, but the ball flew over when if on target could have really tested the England number one.
Boro's best move of the half came when Parlour picked up the ball down the right and swung in a marvellous ball which bounced just ahead of the sliding Mark Viduka, with the Aussie unmarked just 12 yards out.
The major talking point of the half then came when referee Dowd - who was happy to stop play at every given opportunity - dismissed Queudrue for a two-footed lunge on Pamarot.
George Boateng was booked for his protestations and manager Steve McClaren immediately confronted Dowd when he blew for half time moments later.
Boro began the second half without making any changes, merely switching the versatile Boudewijn Zenden to left back and moving Ray Parlour in from his role on the right flank.
The Teessiders would have been looking to keep it tight for the opening exchanges in the second 45, but it was not to be as they were behind less than five minutes in.
It was a nice Spurs move which saw Pedro Mendes gallop down the right and pull the ball back past Gareth Southgate and Defoe was there in front of Chris Riggott to slam the ball home past Schwarzer at his near post.
The goal together with the extra man saw Spurs take control of the game and they began to pass the ball with much more vigour and urgency.
With more space in the middle, Carrick was given licence to pass and he picked out Defoe who beat McMahon, but could not find a team-mate when pulling the ball back.
Zeigler then tested Schwarzer with a nice strike as the home side's dominance continued.
Spurs were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area after Downing slipped and hit the ball with his hand, much to the annoyance of the England Under-21 star. Ziegler stepped up but could only find the wall.
Defoe smashed over the bar again from within the box as Spurs began to over-run Boro in midfield and defence.
Despite being a man down and going behind, Boro maintained two-men up-front with Hasselbaink and Viduka - but the supply line was shockingly insufficient and both were living off scraps and doing what they could, winning the odd corner and free kick.
The second Spurs goal, which had been coming for a some time, then arrived and it was a calamitous error from Schwarzer as he received a pass back from Parlour - but could only hammer his clearance against substitute Kanoute, who knew little about what happened until he saw the ball in the back of the net.
If they did not already know, Boro knew the game had gone away from them.
Downing continued to be the away side's only real spark and threat, and he forced a tremendous save from Robinson as he fired in a free kick from all of 35 yards.
Schwarzer then almost embarrassed himself again as he fluffed a clearance to Carrick, who battled his way into the area - but fortunately for the SocceRoo number one - he fired the ball wide.
McClaren - understandably - will feel very harshly done by, after the sending off ruined the match as a contest, but Boro's second half showing was poor.
Although Spurs claimed their fair share of luck along the way, Martin Jol will care little how his first Premiership win with Tottenham came - but it was well earned after they dominated the second half.
The win takes Spurs up to 13th, who are now four points clear of the drop zone, and also means they avoid a seventh straight defeat which would have been a club record.
Click here for Tottenham v Middlesbrough player ratings.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Middlesbrough|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|5||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|