Battling Spurs claim first home victory
LONDON, England ● Tottenham Hotspur claimed their first home win of the season of Andre Villas-Boas’s tenure by beating Queens Park Rangers 2-1 in their Premier League clash at White Hart Lane.
QPR took a deserved first-half lead through former Tottenham striker Bobby Zamora despite being forced into an early change when Jose Bosingwa picked up an injury.
As France captain Hugo Lloris looked on from the bench once more, Brad Friedel ensured the deficit was not greater at half-time with a handful of quality saves.
QPR remained the better side until the hour mark when – after a half-time switch-around by Villas-Boas – Spurs scored two goals in as many minutes.
An Alejandro Faurlin own goal was followed up almost immediately by Jermain Defoe’s fourth of the season to ensure back-to-back wins for Spurs for the first time this season.
The victory sees Spurs move into the top half of the table, up to eighth on eight points above West Ham and Newcastle on goal difference.
Despite their impressive showing at White Hart Lane, QPR remain in the bottom three with just two points from their first five games of the season.
With Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Kyle Naughton injured, Spurs head coach Andre Villas-Boas was forced into fielding winger Bale in his former position of left-back.
Despite one of their most potent attacking weapons being seconded into defence, Spurs initially did not too affected as Moussa Dembele orchestrated some early dominance for the home side.
However, they were unable to test Julio Cesar in the QPR goal and, save for a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty appeal which was rightly turned down by referee Phil Dowd, they struggled to create many chances.
Conversely, Rangers seemed to make every attack count. As early as the fifth minute Friedel was forced into a fine save to deny Clint Hill scoring with a header from a corner.
Junior Hoilett was a Tottenham target in the summer transfer window, but in the colours of QPR he was a constant thorn in Tottenham’s side. The Canadian was twice denied by Friedel, once from his well-struck volley and then again with a low strike from range.
When the goal came on 33 minutes it was nothing less than Fulham deserved. Alejandro Faurlin slipped a reverse pass into the Spurs box and Zamora latched onto it to lift a finish over Friedel on the turn. That goal was the third in the league this season for both Zamora and QPR.
At half-time Villas-Boas brought defender Steven Caulker on, shifting Jan Vertonghen to left-back and Bale back into the midfield, and it was not long before he got the desired response.
Clint Dempsey hit Tottenham’s first shot on target on his full league debut for the club, firing a swerving shot right at Julio Cesar from range.
They finally broke the deadlock when Caulker leapt to head a corner back across goal and the ball bounced into the net off Faurlin’s back when the Argentine midfielder should have acted far more decisively.
Just as QPR were reeling from that blow, they found themselves behind. Sandro won the ball int he Spurs half and sent Vertonghen galloping up the field. The Belgian defender fed Bale’s run on the left. The Welshman had his effort from a tight angle saved by Julio Cesar and rebound off the crossbar, but Defoe was on hand to calmly finish from close range for his 199th career club goal.
The England striker – has now scored six goals in nine games for club and country this season – had plenty of chances to bring up his double-century as the game really opened up. The England striker was denied possibly his best chance by a well-timed challenge from Hill, just as Vertonghen had done earlier in the half on Hoilett.
Julio Cesar again thwarted Bale from angle before, with the final touch of the game, the Brazilian keeper denied Defoe once more after substitute Andros Townsend had led another Spurs counter-attack.
What had been a largely one-sided affair for the first hour ended up as a thrilling end-to-end contest for which both sides deserve credit but only one got the points.