Premier League - Sharp Defoe downs West Brom
Jermain Defoe’s 63rd-minute goal was the difference between Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane on Tuesday evening, as Harry Redknapp’s side kept up the pressure on league leaders Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United with a hard-earned 1-0 win.
The Spurs striker was handed his first Premier League start since the start of December and was a step ahead of all around him when, just after the hour mark in a game in which his team struggled to break down a dogged West Brom, he spun and shot past Ben Foster to notch his third goal in three games against the West Midlands side.
The result took Spurs to within three points of United, who they have played the same number of games as, and maintains the six-point gap to league leaders City over who Spurs have a game in hand.
It was a frustrating first half for the home side, who were stronger and had more possession throughout the opening 45 minutes, as they went up against an injury-depleted visiting outfit shorn of the services of Jonas Olsson, Chris Brunt and Shane Long.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was himself without the injured Scott Parker and his problem was exacerbated by the loss of Sandro on the half-hour mark as the Brazilian was forced off with what looked to be a hamstring issue.
West Brom’s Jerome Thomas also left the field in the opening 30 minutes injured as Spurs worked hard to crack their opponents.
The closest the home side came to making a breakthrough was through Rafael van der Vaart, when the Dutchman forced Foster to tip over as half time approached. Emmanuel Adebayor also saw a promising chance go begging when Billy Jones took the ball off the striker’s toe when he seemed poised to shoot.
A similar start to the second half did not bode well for Spurs but Defoe's persistence paid off when he reacted to his own mis-control of a Gareth Bale squared pass fastest to spin and tuck the ball into the bottom-left corner past Foster.
Spurs lost two more to injury before the evening drew to a nervy close, William Gallas first exiting holding his calf and Jake Livermore then requiring close attention in the treatment room after a clash of heads with team-mate Younes Kaboul.
It was a tense final few minutes as West Brom sensed a late equaliser, James Morrison cutting the ball across the face of Spurs’ goal and Somen Tchoyi forcing Brad Friedel into a late save, but Redknapp’s team held firm for a deserved win as they maintained their title push into the New Year.