Premier League - Van der Vaart inspires Spurs

Sun, 23 Oct 17:01:00 2011

Rafael van der Vaart scored twice as Tottenham Hotspur moved up to fifth place in the Premier League with a 2-1 win against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.

Blackburn 1 Tottenham 2

Spurs took the lead after 14 minutes as Van der Vaart calmly slotted in Kyle Walker's low cross.

Rovers equalised when the unmarked Mauro Formica fired high into the net as Spurs failed to clear.

But Van der Vaart piled more pressure on Rovers manager Steve Kean when he curled in from the edge of the area after a pass from Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

Kean was without the services of the injured Michel Salgado and Scott Dann. Simon Vukcevic made his first Premier League start, while Morten Gamst Pedersen and Formica also came into the side.

Spurs, beset by injury problems in defence, made two changes from the side that drew at Newcastle last week, with Sebastien Bassong and Aaron Lennon replacing Ledley King and Jake Livermore.

David Hoilett has been one of the few Rovers players to shine this season and he dribbled past stand-in Spurs captain Scott Parker early on, before firing over.

There was panic at the other end as Gael Givet just managed to intercept a cross from Gareth Bale, with Emmanuel Adebayor lurking.

Spurs began to hit their stride and it was little surprise when they took the lead. A lightning-quick counter-attack saw Adebayor release Walker. The defender showed excellent pace down the right and crossed for Van der Vaart who neatly side-footed into the bottom left corner.

Spurs nearly doubled their lead when Bale's cross was almost put into his own net by Martin Olsson. Paul Robinson was forced to tip over, with Rovers now on the back foot.

Bale produced another foray down the left and crossed for Adebayor whose shot was just pushed away by Robinson.

Rovers levelled against the run of play on 27 minutes when Spurs failed to clear a long ball into the box from Pedersen, and the unmarked Formica rifled in the loose ball.

Rovers were looking far more of a threat and Brad Friedel was forced to push Formica's shot into the side netting.

At the other end Luka Modric eluded Pedersen and Formica and unleashed a low goal-bound effort that was pushed around the post for a corner by Robinson.

There was now a delicious ebb and flow to the game, and Hoilett cut inside Walker and saw his effort beaten away by the overworked Friedel.

Spurs regained the lead six minutes after the break as Van der Vaart notched his second of the game. The Dutchman caressed the ball left-footed past Robinson from just outside the area after Assou-Ekotto's run down the left.

Better decision making from Parker could have resulted in a third goal soon after, but he failed to pick out two unmarked team-mates in the area.

After Friedel had tipped Christopher Samba's header over the bar, Modric forced Robinson to push his low dipping shot out for a corner as both goalkeepers continued to excel.

Blackburn continued to display terrific industry as they looked to manufacture further chances. Ayegbeni Yakubu was introduced after 69 minutes and the Nigerian really should have salvaged a point for his side.

After seeing an effort diverted away for a corner, Yakubu fired wide at the near post after the lively Hoilett left van der Vaart and Ekotto trailing in his wake down the right.

Olsson was giving Spurs plenty to think about on the other side and Yakubu really should have done better than side-foot his excellent cross wide after 72 minutes.

Pedersen's set-pieces were a constant source of worry for the Spurs defence, but despite much late pressure, Rovers could not force an equaliser.

Stewart Coggin / Eurosport

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