Defoe on fire in rout
By Richard Jolly. Last Updated: 18/12/04 4:55pm
Harry Redknapp's honeymoon at Southampton is emphatically over. For 88 minutes against Middlesbrough, Redknapp was Saints' saviour. But changing the manager is easier than changing results and Tottenham gave Redknapp an unwelcome reality check with a comprehensive 5-1 victory.
Jermain Defoe, with his first Premiership hat-trick, and Frederic Kanoute exploited shambolic Southampton defending to give Redknapp an early example why his new club are, after Kidderminster Harriers, the poorest travellers in England; after Peter Crouch's consolation, Robbie Keane capped Tottenham's tremendous performance with a fifth goal.
And Tottenham's managerial mayhem is in the past. This was a fourth successive win under Martin Jol and their stylish demolition of Southampton was a vindication of both his positive approach and his team selection.
Keane was given a watching brief, and the strikers selected ran riot, helped by the generosity of a visiting defence who rarely followed their runs and lacked the pace to keep up when they did.
For Redknapp, it was an unfortunate reminder of happier times; a trio of his former charges at West Ham were the architects of Southampton's latest setback, Defoe and Kanoute the beneficiaries of a wonderful display by Michael Carrick. Jacques Santini deemed the playmaker surplus to requirements, but the quality of his distribution made a mockery of that decision.
Carrick controlled the midfield, instigating attack after attack with sweeping passes. In the eighth minute, he sent Kanoute away on a surging run and when the Malian cut the ball back, the sharp Defoe spun on the spot to lift his shot into the roof of the net while Jason Dodd, with the turning circle of an HGV, floundered.
It was a lead Spurs never looked like relinquishing. The White Hart Lane crowd were able to indulge themselves in a chorus of 'ole, ole' by the 20th minute. A quarter of an hour later, the left back Thimothee Atouba started showboating, taunting Kevin Phillips as the Saints striker made increasingly frenzied attempts to win the ball back.
By then, Defoe had doubled his tally. The influential Kanoute provided the slide-rule pass and the England striker, denied a minute before by the agile Antti Niemi, slotted in his second.
The selfless provider for two goals, Kanoute turned his attentions to scoring. Niemi, brilliantly, parried a curler, but was helpless when Carrick, with imperious ease, lofted a pass into the striker's path for Tottenham's third.
It completed an unfortunate hat-trick of assists for the hapless Danny Higginbotham, hampered by his inadequate attempts to play offside. His air kick was the prelude to Defoe's opener. Twice thereafter, he retreated behind his fellow defenders and played first Defoe and then Kanoute onside.
Nor did Southampton deal with crosses better. Both Anthony Gardner and Noe Pamarot were left unmarked and should have placed their headers below the bar; only Niemi prevented a heavier defeat.
But his fine save from Michael Brown presented the quicksilver Defoe with the chance for a third goal on the hour. With Sven Goran Eriksson watching, Defoe accepted. Southampton kept the seasonal gifts coming and it was a surprise when Defoe, in room behind a defence reinforced by the introduction of Andreas Jakobsson, shot wide.
And even the otherwise exemplary Niemi erred when he let substitute Robbie Keane's tame late shot squirm under his body, though Defoe's impudent chipped pass had merited a goal in itself.
Spurs had displayed some generosity themselves. Ledley King's uncharacteristic miskick gifted Peter Crouch, a former Tottenham trainee, a goal on his return to White Hart Lane just after the break.
But Crouch, whose route from Portsmouth to Southampton was more circuitous than Redknapp's, had already spurned a simpler opportunity when the energetic David Prutton supplied him with a tap-in.
And the choice of Crouch appeared a less than subtle hint to the benched James Beattie and his suitors, rumoured to include Aston Villa and Everton, ahead of the January transfer window. Redknapp rarely needs a reason to wheel and deal, but his team provided plenty.
After December defeats last year, Redknapp cancelled Christmas at Portsmouth. After a performance of startling ineptitude, what will he do at Southampton?
Click here for Tottenham v Southampton player ratings.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Name||Southampton|
|12||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|6||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||3|
|11||Total Fouls Conceded||13|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||16||28|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||16||17|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||16||14|