Spurs go third after vital victory at Swansea
PUBLISHED: 17:04 30 March 2013 | UPDATED: 17:12 30 March 2013
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Premier League: Swansea 1 Tottenham 2
Tottenham made a winning return to Premier League action after the international break as a vital victory at Swansea took them up into third place.
Jan Vertonghen gave Spurs an early lead with his fourth goal in five games for the Lilywhites, and Gareth Bale doubled the lead in his homeland at the Liberty Stadium.
That gave Andre Villas-Boas’ visitors a 2-0 half-time lead and, although Michu pulled a goal back 20 minutes from time, Tottenham held on.
The victory meant that Spurs overtook Chelsea, who were beaten by Southampton, and the Lilywhites have also maintained their four-point lead over Arsenal – although both of their London rivals have a game in hand.
There were three changes to the Spurs side that had been beaten by Fulham before the international break. Brad Friedel replaced the injured Hugo Lloris in goal, while Jordan Archer took the substitute goalkeeper’s role after being recalled from his loan spell at Wycombe, and Kyle Walker and Aaron Lennon returned to the team.
It was an even start as both teams sought to dominate possession, but Spurs suddenly grabbed the opening goal in the seventh minute.
Jan Vertonghen brought the ball out of defence and played a one-two with Gareth Bale, continuing his run in behind the Swans’ defence to receive the Welshman’s chipped pass and finish with aplomb, netting his fourth goal in five games for Spurs.
Having established a precious lead, the Lilywhites intelligently kept the ball, putting together long strings of passes – but they also created another good chance as Mousa Dembele freed Emmanuel Adebayor, who won his race with Ashley Williams but fired straight at Michel Vorm.
Spurs had a let-off in the 20th minute as Michu headed wide from a corner, but the Lilywhites were 2-0 up moments later as Vertonghen fired the ball in to Bale, who took a touch on the edge of the box and then surprised Vorm with a quickly-taken drive.
Swansea redoubled their efforts and right-back Dwight Tiendalli forced Friedel into a save, while left-back Ben Davies cut inside and hit a rising 25-yard effort over the bar.
Bale nearly produced another moment of magic at the other end, sending a low effort curling just wide with the outside of his foot.
However, Swansea were left to rue a huge missed opportunity as Tiendalli crossed for Nathan Dyer, who headed against the underside of the crossbar from four yards out, saw the ball rebound into his face and drop agonisingly wide of the goal.
Tottenham held their two-goal lead until the interval, but they were nearly undone early in the second half as Wayne Routledge played a quick free kick through to Michu, who was denied by the onrushing Friedel.
At the other end, Gylfi Sigurdsson was denied as Vorm stretched to tip away his curling effort – but Swansea missed another good opportunity as Tiendalli crossed for Michu, who leapt above Michael Dawson but headed just wide with Friedel rooted.
There will little goalmouth action in the ensuing 15 minutes, but Spurs increasingly struggled to keep the ball, getting pinned back onto the edge of their own box.
Every time the Lilywhites won the ball they gave it away again, gradually increasing the pressure – and Swansea halved their deficit with 20 minutes left as Michu headed home from a corner.
Bale attempted to hit straight back, running from the edge of his own box to the other end of the field and clipping the outside of the post, but Spurs were forced to endure a nervy climax as Tiendalli delivered a steady stream of crosses into their box.
Tottenham substitute Jermain Defoe could have made sure of the points but was denied by Vorm in the closing minutes – and Bale was then forced into some desperate defending in injury-time, sliding to block Dyer’s effort inside the box before racing half the length of the field and firing at Vorm at the death.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton, Lennon, Parker, Dembele, Sigurdsson (Holtby 78), Bale, Adebayor (Defoe 60).
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