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Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Saturday, 5 April 2008 16:54 UK

Blackburn 1-1 Tottenham

By Ben Dirs

Jermain Jenas (left) and Jason Roberts
Spurs's Jenas (left) and Blackburn's Roberts both played well

Blackburn's European hopes took a dent after they were held to a pulsating draw by Spurs at Ewood Park.

The visitors were superb for the opening third and Dimitar Berbatov gave them an early lead, tapping in on seven minutes after a Jermaine Jenas cross.

However, Morten Gamst Pederson equalised in the 30th minute after a piece of brilliance from David Bentley.

Bentley had a late penalty appeal turned down, but Spurs shoud have made their first-half dominance count.

The visitors came out of the traps the fastest, but it was Blackburn who had the first chance of the match after some nervous play from goalkeeper Radek Cerny.

Cerny, in for the injured Paul Robinson, came charging out of his area and found Bentley with his attempted clearance, but the England man was unable to find the net from long range and the ball was scrambled clear.

And it was Spurs who took the lead after seven minutes, Jenas squaring after neat interplay between Aaron Lennon and Steed Malbranque down the left flank and Berbatov poking the ball home.


Tottenham, playing with tremendous confidence and fluidity, almost doubled their lead soon after, Jenas very nearly finding Berbatov in the clear with another sweet through-ball

The Bulgarian striker once again found himself in acres of space a few minutes later but he shot straight at Brad Friedel when he had Robbie Keane screaming for the ball to his right.

While Spurs were sensational for the first half an hour, passing and moving with rare verve, Mark Hughes's side were woeful, continuously giving the ball away and being forced to repel wave upon wave of yellow-shirted attacks.

However, a flash of inspiration from Bentley was enough to get the home side back on level terms against the run of play.

Bentley, a rival for David Beckham on England's right-hand side, deftly brought a cross-field ball under control, skated free of Pascal Chimbonda and centred for Pederson, who swept the ball home from 12 yards out.

Spurs were acutely aware they should have been two or three goals up and their frustration was there for all to see, Berbatov and strike partner Keane exchanging angry words in the centre-circle just before the break.

Immediately after the restart, Jason Roberts was ruled to have fouled Spurs centre-back Michael Dawson with the goal at his mercy, before Berbatov forced Friedel into a good save at the other end with a right-footed volley.

Lennon then found Malbranque with a pinpoint cross, but the Frenchman was denied by Friedel diving to his left.

Blackburn grew stronger as the second half wore on, but Spurs it was who continued to create the more clear-cut chances, with Berbatov very nearly finding Keane with a cross from the left flank.

Bentley had a decent penalty claim turned down with 12 minutes remaining when Spurs substitute Gilberto checked him inside the box.

Bentley will argue that his path was deliberately blocked, while Gilberto will no doubt argue he was merely standing his ground.

Darren Bent, on for Keane, had a late chance to steal the points for Spurs but was unable to get enough purchase on a speculative through-ball from Alan Hutton.

Despite the result, it was an encouraging performance for Spurs manager Juande Ramos to reflect on, while Blackburn boss Mark Hughes was left cursing the late penalty decision that denied his side.

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes (on David Bentley's late penalty appeal):
"It was a penalty. David Bentley burst forward with real purpose at the heart of their defence.  "The guy has obviously stood in front of him and actually made a move with his leg to make sure David went down.  "We didn't start brightly, Spurs were better early on. But I think the goal stirred us, we were better after that and scored a great goal ourselves."

Tottenham first-team coach Gus Poyet:
"We have to show we can be a good team week in, week out and not every now and again.

"We played some good football, the football we want to play, passing and moving with good positional play.

"It was an open game for the supporters, and we will go home happy. Overall we played well, we're pleased with the performance and attitude."

Blackburn: Friedel, Ooijer (Emerton 46), Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Bentley, Reid (Mokoena 86), Vogel, Pedersen (McCarthy 73), Santa Cruz, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Derbyshire.

Booked: Santa Cruz, Warnock, Samba.

Goals: Pedersen 30.

Tottenham: Cerny, Hutton, Dawson, Woodgate, Chimbonda (Gilberto 72), Lennon, Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque (Huddlestone 72), Berbatov, Keane (Bent 78).
Subs Not Used: Forecast, Tainio.

Booked: Zokora.

Goals: Berbatov 7.

Att: 24,592

Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Dimitar Berbatov 8.46 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Saturday's football photos
05 Apr 08 |  Football
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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