Premier League - Crouch heads Spurs to win

Wed, 02 Feb 20:43:00 2011

Tottenham Hotspur shrugged off their FA Cup exit thanks to an early goal from Peter Crouch in a 1-0 Premier League win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Having been humiliated in a 4-0 fourth-round defeat at Craven Cottage on the weekend, Spurs were unimpressive but ground out victory in an error-strewn game after Crouch's third-minute header, only his second league goal of the season.

Rafael van der Vaart provided the assist and he was Spurs' best player on the night as they toiled against spirited opposition, although Heurelho Gomes almost pipped the Dutchman as man of the match after three good saves late on.

In injury time Rovers defender Chris Samba's goal-bound header was deflected over by an unaware Jermaine Jenas as Spurs hung on for victory.

The result keeps Spurs in the hunt for the top four, three points behind Chelsea, while Rovers slip a place to ninth after Bolton's last-gasp win over Wolves.

An injury-ravaged Spurs side had plenty of problems, with Michael Dawson - architect of the Craven Cottage shambles - suspended, perma-crock Jonathan Woodgate pressed into bench action and the unusual sight of two goalkeepers as substitutes.

They got off to a dream start nonetheless when Crouch got away from Samba and Ryan Nelsen to guide Van der Vaart’s excellent cross past Tottenham old-boy Paul Robinson.

But Rovers fought back, dominating much of the match as Gomes atoned for a dreadful punch by tipping away Junior Hoilett’s lob.

David Dunn fired a couple of efforts just wide, while Nelsen should have done better than the side netting from Dunn’s corner, the same combination seeing the New Zealand defender flick just wide from a free-kick.

The second half took on a similar pattern as Mame Biram Diouf was denied by Gomes, although Spurs - for whom Van der Vaart was at times a one-man show - had a couple of chances as Jermain Defoe’s poor form continued, Robinson keeping the England striker's low finish out after Aaron Lennon put him clean through.

Robinson made another smart stop after Lennon’s rasping drive was deflected by Michel Salgado but it was back to business for Rovers as Gomes kept Spurs in the match.

The Brazilian showed his bad side with some flaps in the first half but was inspired in the second, keeping out efforts from Hoilett, Diouf and substitute Morten Gamst Pederson in quick succession as Rovers piled it on.

Spurs responded by replacing Defoe with midfielder Sandro, sitting increasingly deep as Van der Vaart tired and Crouch became isolated.

In injury time Rovers almost snatched a leveller, auxiliary centre-forward Samba robbed of a certain goal when his free header found the back of Jenas on its way over, while Keith Andrews shot straight at Gomes as Spurs struggled to clear.

But Harry Redknapp’s side held on for victory, keeping them fifth but pulling four points away from Sunderland with a game to spare.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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