Tottenham’s revival continues with vital victory at Bolton
21:54 02 May 2012
Premier League: Bolton 1 Tottenham 4
Tottenham took another step towards Champions League qualification tonight as their second successive victory left them in fourth place with two games to go.
Having arrested a dismal run of form with their only second win in 10 league games against Blackburn on Sunday, Spurs took all three points away from Bolton on Wednesday - winning their first ever league game at the Reebok Stadium.
Luka Modric put the Lilywhites 1-0 up at the break with a 30-yard stunner and, although Wanderers hit back through Nigel Reo-Coker shortly after the interval and took the upper hand, Harry Redknapp’s side regrouped and ran out 4-1 winners after a goal from Rafael van der Vaart and an Emmanuel Adebayor double.
Spurs’ victory took them one point behind Arsenal, and four ahead of Chelsea. But, with Newcastle beating the Blues at Stamford Bridge, the Magpies remain level with Tottenham on points, with only goal difference separating fourth and fifth place.
The match was preceded by the hugely welcome sight of Fabrice Muamba taking to the Bolton turf to thank both sets of fans for their support, following his heart attack at White Hart Lane on March 17.
Clearly moved, the Wanderers midfielder wiped tears from his eyes as he saluted the crowd, before attending his first football match since his collapse.
Meanwhile, Redknapp named the same side that had beaten Blackburn so comfortably at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
And, having made his 300th consecutive Premier League appearance against Rovers, 40-year-old Brad Friedel became Tottenham’s oldest ever player in a league match, beating Jimmy Cantrell’s record, which had stood for 89 years.
Spurs went into the game without an away league win in 2012, having failed to emerge victorious on the road in their previous seven attempts.
However, the Lilywhites seemed intent to change that at the Reebok, and looked threatening from the off.
With less than two minutes on the clock, Aaron Lennon surged past Sam Ricketts and won a corner, and William Gallas, Younes Kaboul, Gareth Bale and Sandro somehow failed to get a killer touch on Van der Vaart’s dangerous delivery.
Ten minutes later Bale’s 25-yard effort was palmed away by Adam Bogdan, and the Trotters keeper reacted quickly to deny Van der Vaart from the rebound.
Lennon was continuing to elude Ricketts, and he skipped infield off the right flank, exchanged passes with Adebayor and saw a deflected effort whistle narrowly over the bar.
On the other wing, Bale hared around David Wheater and cut the ball back from the by-line, only to bisect Van der Vaart and Lennon.
The Dutchman maintained the pressure on Bogdan’s goal, whipping a 25-yard free-kick wide of the left-hand post.
And, although Bolton had a good chance to take the lead against the run of play as Friedel denied David Ngog from close range, Spurs immediately broke as Adebayor freed Van der Vaart, who was denied by Bogdan yet again.
Having failed to score in their previous four away games, Spurs were lacking a clinical finish to match their domination – but the opening goal immediately followed.
Sandro turned the loose ball into a corner – dubiously, as he appeared to use his hand – and Modric took full advantage, receiving the set piece 30 yards from goal and sending an swerving volley into the top right corner.
Spurs had the breakthrough, but they spent the final eight minutes of the first half on the back foot and were lucky to maintain their lead until the interval.
Kaboul was fortunate to escape unseen as he grappled with Ngog inside the penalty area, and Gallas appeared to handle as he rushed back to help his defensive partner.
Then, with mere seconds of injury-time remaining, Dedryck Boyata was left unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, only to sky his volley wastefully over the bar.
The half-time break did little to settle Spurs, and they conceded the equaliser within six minutes of the restart.
Kevin Davies flicked a throw-on in to Ngog, who backheeled the ball into the path of Nigel Reo-Coker and the onrushing Trotters midfielder fired low past Friedel.
Spurs were struggling to string any passes together and looked perilously close to conceding again as they were forced to defend a succession of corners.
Tottenham’s hearts were in their mouths as Chris Eagles fired inches over the bar but, within the space of a couple of minutes, Redknapp’s side were 3-1 up after two quickfire goals.
Bale broke down the left and crossed for Van der Vaart, who swept a first-time finish across Bogdan into the bottom corner.
And, 25 seconds after the restart, Modric bisected the Bolton defence with a stunning through ball for Lennon, who laid the goal on a plate for Adebayor.
If there were any doubts about the result, they were extinguished 20 minutes from time as the striker doubled his tally, gathering Bale’s pass and waltzing around the stranded Bogdan before tapping into the empty net.
Spurs nearly added a fifth goal in injury-time as Bale embarked on one last run down the left, but his cross was deflected narrowly wide by Ricketts.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, Gallas (Nelsen 87), Rose, Lennon (Saha 83), Sandro, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart (Livermore 79), Adebayor
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