Spurs edge ten-goal thriller
Berbatov scores four as Tottenham defeat Reading 6-4
Last Updated: 29/12/07 9:16pm
Berbatov: Four-goal hero
Dimitar Berbatov scored four times as Tottenham defeated Reading 6-4 in an incredible encounter at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham began the game where they had left off against Fulham on Boxing Day and took the lead after just seven minutes through Berbatov, only for Kalifa Cisse to equalise on 16 minutes after a howler by Paul Robinson.
The real drama was to come in the second half, and it started in the 53rd minute when Ivar Ingimarsson headed Reading back in front.
Juande Ramos reacted to the setback by replacing Ledley King with Jermain Defoe, and from that moment on there was barely a second that passed by without incident as seven more goals were scored in the space of 20 minutes.
Berbatov capitalised on a dreadful clearance from Graeme Murty to bring Tottenham level at 2-2, before Dave Kitson glanced in Nicky Shorey's corner.
Berbatov showed good strength to complete his hat-trick, but Kitson struck again on the break to put Reading 4-3 ahead.
Steed Malbranque equalised again for Tottenham and Keane then won a penalty after being tripped by Sonko.
Keane's spot-kick was saved by Hahnemann but Defoe headed in the rebound, and Berbatov made the points safe seven minutes from time with another powerful strike.
Both sides went into the clash with a reputation for thrilling matches - and this dramatic topsy-turvy match was up there with Reading's 7-4 against Portsmouth.
Reading's team bus was held up in traffic and their squad had to be phoned through - but there was no delay in the action when play got under way.
The opener came in the seventh minute from a move started by Malbranque playing through Keane down the right flank. The Republic of Ireland international crossed first time and Berbatov squeezed between defenders and tapped in.
The equaliser came nine minutes later after Berbatov fouled Kevin Doyle on the halfway line.
Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson called to claim Nicky Shorey's free-kick and tried to punch as Younes Kaboul looked to clear. The ball fell limply to Cisse and the midfielder stabbed in the rebound from the edge of the area.
Robinson had to stay alert as Stephen Hunt's cross almost deceived him shortly after and he had to tip over the bar.
Bobby Convey was almost given a sight of goal when Pascal Chimbonda lost the ball but Kaboul got back to clear the danger.
Ingimarsson was equally careless for Reading in first-half stoppage-time, allowing Berbatov to cross - but Keane went with his wrong foot with the goal at his mercy and the chance went begging.
Reading went ahead in the 53rd minute after Kaboul was forced to slide in to block a shot from Kitson. Shorey's corner found Ingimarsson, who was unmarked and thumped his header past Robinson for 2-1.
They could have extended the lead in their next move, Cisse's shot finding its way to Kitson through on goal - but the striker checked onto his favoured foot and Robinson cleared.
The hosts looked exposed after King's exit with a centre-back short and Robinson had to save from Hunt at full-stretch when Reading broke, then Kitson blazed wide.
But they were level in the 63rd minute when Defoe scampered down the right - his cross was weak but Murty failed to clear and Berbatov lashed into the roof of the net.
Inevitably it was from a set-piece that Reading took the lead again to go 3-2 up. Kitson stole in at the near post and headed in Shorey's corner.
But Berbatov levelled in the 72nd minute when he hooked in his hat-trick after Chimbonda headed down Jenas' corner from the right.
There was no sign of the pace stopping. Kitson raced through and chipped Robinson to make it 4-3, but Malbranque curled into the top corner to restore parity.
And Spurs were ahead again with 12 minutes remaining when Sonko brought down Keane in the area. Marcus Hahnemann saved Keane's spot-kick but Defoe slid in with a diving header to tuck away the rebound.
Berbatov scored his fourth in the 83rd minute, chasing a hopeful long ball and crashing in a volley from the edge of the area.For all the effort, Spurs move up one place in the table, replacing Reading in 12th.
|Tottenham Hotspur||Team Statistics||Reading|
|1||1st Half Goals||1|
|11||Shots on Target||5|
|4||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||38||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||38||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||30|