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Page last updated at 21:53 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tottenham 3-1 Stoke

By Pranav Soneji

Jermain Defoe hits Spurs' second against Stoke
Jermain Defoe was a constant threat up front with Roman Pavlyuchenko

A superb three-goal first-half display earned Tottenham a deserved win over fellow relegation strugglers Stoke.

Aaron Lennon opened the scoring in the eighth minute from 12 yards before Jermain Defoe doubled the lead on 21 minutes after a fine passing move.

Michael Dawson added the third three minutes later when he headed in Luka Modric's left-footed cross.

Stoke clawed a goal back when James Beattie beat debutant Carlo Cudicini with a well-struck shot from 12 yards.

The first-half performance was exactly what Spurs fans have been demanding all season, although their team took full advantage of a Stoke back four incapable of coping with the movement of Defoe, Roman Pavlyuchenko and the outstanding Modric.

Croatia international Modric was at the heart of Tottenham's industry, providing encouraging signs of recovery as Spurs moved clear of the bottom three.

The defeat, however, leaves Stoke languishing in the relegation zone and still searching for their first away victory of the season.

Redknapp delighted at Spurs quality

With new signing Cudicini in the starting XI in place of injured keeper Heurelho Gomes, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp brought back Jonathan Woodgate, Lennon and Defoe, who all missed the 2-1 FA Cup defeat at Manchester United on Saturday.

Stoke, who were unchanged, could have taken the lead after a minute when Beattie stole in front of Woodgate, but the former Everton striker failed to make contact with Glenn Whelan's free-kick.

With David Bentley reverting to his favoured right midfield berth, Redknapp switched Lennon to the left flank.

And the fleet-footed England winger broke the deadlock in the eighth minute, taking advantage of Andy Wilkinson's reluctance to commit a challenge, advancing into the 18-yard box before firing a left-footed strike through the legs of Thomas Sorensen.

The jubilant Spurs fans were given a glimpse of the abundant - but so far mercurial - talent of their side on 21 minutes.

Modric, dictating the tempo of Spurs' slick passing game, fed Pavlyuchenko, whose defence-splitting pass was latched on to by Defoe to finish from 12 yards.


The home side were rampant and added a third three minutes later from a short corner, with Modric once again the architect.

The midfielder sent a pinpoint left-footed cross onto the head of the unmarked Dawson, who powered home a header from six yards.

Stoke's back four were run ragged as Defoe's pace and movement, combined with the intelligence of Modric and Pavlyuchenko, continued to cause havoc.

Only Wilkinson's desperate lunging goal-line clearance from Defoe's 12-yard strike on 28 minutes kept Stoke from going four goals down at the interval.

The impressive Pavlyuchenko rolled off his marker and fired a left-foot strike just wide of Sorensen's right-hand post on the cusp of half-time, although a defensive header from Dawson almost crept past the redundant Cudicini in the dying seconds.

Pulis unhappy with first-half display

The visitors replied 11 minutes into the second half when Dawson's careless pass was intercepted by Rory Delap.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder found Matthew Etherington, whose cross was brilliantly controlled by Beattie before his second touch slid across the body of the diving Cudicini into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The goal galvanised Stoke's resolve as substitutes Ricardo Fuller, Ibrahima Sonko and Andy Griffin added fresh impetus and fight.

Striker Richard Cresswell could have set up an enthralling final five minutes, but his header from Griffin's cross went wide.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp:
"In all honesty we could have been six-up at half time, we were that dominant.

"But suddenly from being in complete control we turn the ball over and they hit us on the break. But we kept the ball after that, it was a good all-round performance.

On rumours that Spurs are keen to sign Robbie Keane:
"I don't want to upset Liverpool and talk about one of their players. He's one of their players and it's not a goer.

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis:
"The first 25 mintues we were inept, we never got close to Tottenham.

"(Luka) Modric ran the game. When you allow him to have the space to pick passes and let (Jermain) Defoe and (Roman) Pavlyuchenko come off you and work patterns, it's very poor.

"We were better (in the second half) but it's no use being better when you are 3-0 down. We played so well against Chelsea and if we could do it there, we could do it here."

Tottenham: Cudicini, Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (Huddlestone 90), Zokora, Modric, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko (Campbell 90), Defoe.

Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Bale, Taarabt, Rocha, Giovani.

Booked: Bentley, Woodgate.

Goals: Lennon 8, Defoe 21, Dawson 25.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Griffin 46), Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye (Sonko 46), Higginbotham, Delap, Amdy Faye (Fuller 49), Whelan, Etherington, Cresswell, Beattie.

Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Lawrence, Kitson, Pugh.

Booked: Higginbotham, Cresswell, Whelan.

Goals: Beattie 57.

Att: 36,072

Ref: Mike Riley (Yorkshire).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Tottenham's Jermain Defoe 7.91 (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.

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see also
Fred no-show for Tottenham talks
27 Jan 09 |  Tottenham
Premier League as it happened
27 Jan 09 |  Premier League
Tuesday's football photos
27 Jan 09 |  Football
Player Rater
02 Nov 08 |  Premier League

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