Saturday, 5 February 2011

Toottenham 2 Bolton 1

Substitute Niko Kranjcar's injury-time thunderbolt gave Tottenham a dramatic win over Bolton.
Rafael van der Vaart put the hosts ahead from the the penalty spot after a Kevin Davies handball.
The Dutchman then missed a retaken second spot-kick, before the Trotters hit back when Daniel Sturridge's shot squirmed under Heurelho Gomes.
Jermaine Jenas's free-kick hit the post as Spurs pressed and Kranjcar sealed the win with a fearsome 25-yard strike.
It was a vital and timely contribution from the Croatian midfielder, who struck just as the game, and with it Tottenham's Champions League aspirations, seemed to be slipping from their grasp.
Instead, the win moves Spurs level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea, who play Liverpool on Sunday, and seals a second gritty victory in four days, reviving a season that appeared to be wobbling.
A game that ended in high drama also began in extraordinary fashion, with Van der Vaart stepping up to take three penalty kicks three times in as many minutes.
The first was awarded in the fourth minute after Jussi Jaaskelainen parried Michael Dawson's header straight to Vedran Corluka, whose prod towards goal was stopped by the arm of Kevin Davies.
The Bolton players were incensed by the decision but referee Mark Clattenburg waved away the protests and Van der Vaart stepped up to unerringly place his 12th goal of the season into the top left corner.
Moments later, Spurs were awarded a second spot-kick when Aaron Lennon jinked past Sam Ricketts before going down under the defender's challenge.
The ice cool Van der Vaart placed the kick in exactly the same place and beat Jaaskelainen again but Clattenburg ordered a retake for encroachment, with replays showing that Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios had strayed into the area before the ball was struck.
The setback seemed to shake Van der Vaart, who stepped up for a third time with the pressure building and aimed for the top-left corner again, only to see his kick fly well wide.
It was a deflating end to the drama for the hosts and they appeared ruffled, with Bolton going close to a leveller when Elmander rattled the bar with a header from Matt Taylor's cross.
On-loan striker Sturridge, making his first start, caused the Spurs defence problems throughout and he fired into the side netting after sidestepping Dawson.
Tottenham's England strike duo of Peter Crouch and Defoe would have done little to impress to the watching England manager Fabio Capello in this game.
The closest Defoe came to his first Premier League goal of the season was a scuffed effort over the bar while Crouch was twice given a glimpse of goal but was denied by good defensive challenges, from Ricketts and Paul Robinson, when he hesitated before getting a shot away.
Just before half-time, Clattenburg awarded Spurs a penalty for the third time after a handball in the area but he reneged after realising that the linesman had flagged Crouch offside in the build-up.
Bolton continued to look dangerous after the break and they levelled when the impressive Mark Davies burst through midfield and slipped the ball to Sturridge, whose shot from the edge of the area slipped under Gomes in a moment the Brazilian goalkeeper will certainly not be replaying to his grandchildren.
Mark Clattenburg then controversially resisted the temptation to award another penalty - instead booking Gary Cahill for simulation after he went down under Benoit Assou-Ekotto's challenge in the box, although replays suggested there was contact.
The scare briefly roused Spurs and they went close to regaining their lead when a curling Jermaine Jenas free-kick slammed against the upright, before Steven Pienaar was denied by a brilliant close-range stop from Jaaskelainen.
But the expected onslaught from the home side failed to materialise and Bolton's diligent defence coped well with the home side's laboured attacks and looked set to end a run of five straight away defeats.
Two minutes of injury time had already elapsed when Roman Pavlyuchenko laid the ball to Kranjcar 30 yards from goal, and the Croat cut past Zat Knight and hammered the ball just out of Jaaskelainen's reach and into the roof of the net.

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