Premier League - Swansea halt Spurs charge

Sat, 31 Dec 16:53:00 2011

Brad Friedel's error handed Swansea a late equaliser as Tottenham were held 1-1 in Wales and failed to take full advantage of Manchester United's Premier League slip-up against Blackburn.

Swansea 1 Tottenham 1

Rafael van der Vaart's close-range finish had put Spurs ahead on the stroke of half-time.

But Spurs struggled to create many clear chances and Swansea looked the more likely to score at a sodden Liberty Stadium.

The home side's reward came six minutes from time, as Freidel failed to deal with a deflected low cross, allowing Scott Sinclair to tap into an empty net.

Spurs went into this game with more points after 17 games than the league leaders (37) had at the same stage last season, underlining their elevation to title contenders under Harry Redknapp.

But while they have shown themselves capable of grinding out wins against the Premier League's lesser forces this season, that quality was called into question against a Swansea team that, with the help of their vociferous support, have made the Liberty Stadium one of the toughest away days in the division.

Swansea enjoyed 70 per cent possession after the first 10 minutes and looked likely to score during that period, but Spurs felt their way into the game and Luka Modric tested Michel Vorm from the edge of the box after a neat and patient build-up.

The influence of Tottenham's key players grew as the half progressed, and Van der Vaart and Gareth Bale - booked on his return to Wales for simulation - started to inflict damage.

While Spurs may have only shaded the first half, their greater quality in attack proved crucial and, a couple of minutes before the break, Van der Vaart gave Spurs the lead.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto teased the booked Ashley Richards before delivering a low cross from the left that was deflected into the path of Van der Vaart, who swivelled to turn the ball in, via a deflection off Ashley Williams, from a couple of yards out.

Spurs came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half as they looked to catch Swansea sleeping, with Emmanuel Adebayor and Younes Kaboul both coming close.

Spurs should have grabbed their second in the 54th minute, when Adebayor had Van der Vaart racing clear through the centre. But the Togo player chose to delay his pass and, when Van der Vaart eventually did receive the ball, the Dutchman was forced to try his luck from distance and his compatriot, Vorm, was equal to it.

Swansea were boosted by Tottenham's blasé attitude in front of goal and fashioned a couple of key chances of their own.

Luke Moore, the focal point for Swansea's attacks all game, shifted the ball on to his left foot but dragged his shot across Friedel's goal, before Angel Rangel stabbed Stephen Dobbie's corner inches wide.

Swansea started to throw everything at Spurs and would have had their equaliser earlier, if not for Kyle Walker's stunning headed clearance and Modric scrambling off the line.

The goal was coming though, and they eventually got it courtesy of a misunderstanding between two veterans in the Spurs defence - Friedel and William Gallas in the 84th minute.

Rangel's low cross from the right took a slight deflection off Assou-Ekotto, which caused indecision between the two. As the ball fizzed in, neither cleared and Sinclair was left with the easiest of tap-ins at the far post.

With the Liberty Stadium bouncing, Adebayor saw a late shot snaffled by Vorm as Spurs tried in vain to turn one point into three.

The result keeps the gap between Spurs and Manchester United at six points, but Redknapp will rue a missed opportunity to have reduced it to four.

Michael Da Silva - on Twitter @mjdasilva / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account