Stylish Spurs demolish Reading to give AVB his first win
Premier League: Reading 1 Tottenham 3
Jermain Defoe netted twice as Tottenham cruised to their first victory under Andre Villas-Boas, dominating throughout and earning an emphatic triumph which took them into 10th spot in the Premier League.
Defoe hit his fourth and fifth goals of the season for club and country at the Madejski Stadium, scoring either side of a Gareth Bale strike, while Clint Dempsey made his debut as a second-half substitute on a thoroughly satisfying day for the Lilywhites.
After all the debate about Tottenham’s goalkeeping situation during the international break, Villas-Boas stuck to his word and kept faith with Brad Friedel – who was to have a quiet day between the sticks - and leaving deadline day signing Hugo Lloris on the bench.
Emmanuel Adebayor was also left out of the starting line-up for the second game in a row, but Mousa Dembele made his first start after scoring as a substitute in his previous outing against Norwich.
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Meanwhile, Kyle Naughton made his first appearance of the season at left-back, replacing Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who returned from the international break with a couple of niggly injuries.
Tottenham were on top right from the start, creating two good chances in the opening seven minutes. The former Reading man Gylfi Sigurdsson met a Bale free-kick with a goalward header, which was blocked, and Jan Vertonghen’s follow-up was saved by Alex McCarthy at his near post.
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Moments later Bale raced onto Vertonghen’s long ball over the top, but prodded wide with his first touch from the edge of the box with the onrushing McCarthy exposed in no-man’s land.
Spurs suffered a brief scare as Walker punched away an incoming free-kick inside his own penalty box, but referee Howard Webb adjudged that he had been pushed from behind by Alex Pearce and awarded a free-kick to the Lilywhites.
However, Tottenham took a deserved lead in the 18th minute with a sublime goal, as Sigurdsson threaded an inch-perfect through ball to Aaron Lennon, who pulled the goal back to Defoe, who finished with aplomb.
The visitors maintained the pressure and Sandro tested McCarthy with a 25-yard effort, while Defoe came close to a stunning second strike, pulling the ball down out of the sky with a magnificent first touch and racing through on goal but prodding wastefully wide.
The dangerous England striker then robbed McCarthy of the ball inside the Reading box and squared for Sigurdsson, but the Iceland international’s close-range effort was brilliantly blocked by Pearce on the goalline.
Tottenham picked up where they had left off after the break, with Dembele’s mis-hit shot striking Defoe and looping just wide of the post, while Bale fired past McCarthy’s left-hand post from 20 yards.
Having wasted a dangerous opportunity on the break earlier in the second half, Lennon then hared in behind Reading’s back line again and forced Kaspars Gorkss into a desperate block.
Bale then hared down the left and delivered a low cross for Defoe, who collected the ball with his back to goal 10 yards out, turned and sliced his shot wide.
The second goal eventually arrived 18 minutes from time following patient build-up play from back to front, with Walker eventually getting to the by-line and pulling the ball back for Bale, who mis-hit his shot but beat McCarthy.
It got even better for Spurs moments later as Defoe doubled his tally for the day – and in some style as he won the ball on the halfway line and raced into the box before firing across McCarthy with a deadly left-footed finish.
Tom Huddlestone had already been introduced by that stage and Dempsey followed, entering the fray to make his Tottenham debut in place of Bale, while Andros Townsend replaced Lennon late on.
Townsend nearly made an instant impact, crossing for Defoe, who had a hat-trick in his sights but blazed over.
Instead it was Reading who had the final word as Hal Robson-Kanu fired home from close range to give the hosts a late consolation.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton, Sandro, Dembele, Lennon (Townsend 87), Sigurdsson (Huddlestone 72), Bale (Dempsey 88), Defoe
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs