Premier League - Bale hurt as Spurs held

Sat, 07 May 19:32:00 2011

A Jermain Defoe screamer gave Tottenham Hotspur a 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool, a result that all but ends Spurs' Champions League hopes but takes Ian Holloway's side out of the Premier League relegation zone.

Match Highlights:

Charlie Adam opened the scoring by thrashing home a 76th-minutes penalty only seconds after Heurelho Gomes had saved a spot-kick from him.

The Scot, who almost joined Spurs in January, should not have been on the pitch after a late tackle that left Bale with a potentially serious ankle injury.

The initial penalty was controversial: Michael Dawson clearly handled but he was just as clearly pushed as he flew into the ball.

Gomes’s stop from Adam’s low spot-kick was as brilliant as his subsequent flap and foul on Gary Taylor-Fletcher was ludicrous: goal-line calls notwithstanding, errors from the blundering Brazilian have now cost Spurs three of their last five matches.

But with the clock ticking down Defoe latched on to a pass from Luka Modric to thrash a sublime shot from outside the box that flew into the bottom right.

Spurs will see it as two points lost as they sit on the brink of failure to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition - Manchester City had given them half a chance by losing to Everton but only need draw with the North London side in midweek to ensure fourth place.

On evidence of the first half it was difficult to tell which side were competing for a European place and which fighting the drop.

First Gomes showed his shot-stopping ability to keep out Adam’s spectacular volley, DJ Campbell’s follow-up deflected wide, while from Adam’s resultant corner Sergei Kornilenko pounded a free-header over when he really should have scored.

Spurs, meanwhile, got much of their joy from the left flank as Bale and makeshift full-back Danny Rose enjoyed time and space to put in some brilliant low balls that were respectively missed by Rafael van der Vaart and tipped away by Matt Gilks.

In between there was another decent save from Gomes, again keeping Adam out after his shot was deflected, with the goalless half-time score fair given the relative lack of opportunity.

The switch initially suited Spurs better, as Van der Vaart relished his more central role, blasting one over after being fed by Aaron Lennon and creating a chance for Bale, who also missed the target.

Blackpool still saw some of the ball - David Vaughan drilling a low shot wide - but Spurs were taking control of the match as Bale drilled a shot inches wide and Defoe’s acrobatic effort cleared the crossbar.

Then came the moment which ended Bale’s interest in the match and possibly the season, when he was caught by Adam just above the ankle.

After a few minutes of treatment Welshman was stretchered off, still in agony with his leg stabilised. It was unclear whether there was a break or just a bad twist but he is unlikely to return before the next campaign - shockingly Adam escaped punishment for the tackle, which was poor and late.

Spurs seemed unruffled by the injury as they continued to press Blackpool but, as the match drew on, the visitors regained confidence and almost edged ahead, Gomes pulling off another superb stop after Campbell was played in by Keith Southern.

Then came the comedy of errors that allowed the Seasiders to take the lead: the corner that followed Gomes’s save saw Probert, already under the spotlight after a few errors including missing Adam’s foul, point to the spot when Dawson handled the ball having been shoved into it.

Adam, by now the clear villain of the piece, fluffed his lines: the penalty was half-decent, low to the right, but Gomes somehow flew across to save it.

It was the Brazilian’s fourth top-class save of the match but he rendered it worthless when, from the corner that followed, he flapped dreadfully before flying towards Taylor-Fletcher and giving him a nudge: Adam, despite the attempts of Campbell to wrestle the ball away, insisted on taking it and made no mistake the second time, lashing an unstoppable effort to the left with Gomes going the wrong way.

A defeat would have been harsh on Spurs and, after toiling following the initial shock of conceding, they responded well, with substitute Peter Crouch causing the kinds of problems that raised the question of why Pavlyuchenko was even on the pitch.

Eventually the pressure told as, following a driving run from Modric, Defoe found his range and smacked a vicious low shot just inside the left-hand post.

There were 88 minutes on the clock but, following the injury to Bale and the penalty dramas, six minutes added time were signalled as Spurs threw the kitchen sink at Blackpool, almost conceding a last-gasp goal in the process as Jason Puncheon dragged one wide after a rapid counter.

Reda Maher / Eurosport

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