Tottenham Hotspur 3—1 Reading: Player Ratings
It was a perfect end to the holiday period for André Villas-Boas, who enjoyed his fist win as Spurs boss at Reading. The 3-1 win against Reading earlier this season was replicated at White Hart Lane, though it could have been a much more comprehensive win, such were the opportunities Spurs created.
It looked set to be a frustrating afternoon for the home side, particularly after Pavel Pogrebnyak put the away side ahead early on. However, Michael Dawson scored his first league goal in four years shortly afterwards and it would have been a huge shock had Spurs not won against a side with the worst away record in the league.
Emmanuel Adebayor shook off his first-half slumber to put the home side ahead with a towering header from an Aaron Lennon cross before substitute Clint Dempsey scored his first league goal at home when his shot was deflected into the net.
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Hugo Lloris: 8.0
There was nothing he could have done about Ian Harte’s free-kick that hit the bar as he was stranded when Pavel Pogrebnyak nodded in the rebound.
Lloris snatched at a couple of clearances but he had little to do as Spurs poured forward.
Reading created slightly more in the second half and the highlight was when the French international keeper made an outstanding block from Pogrebnyak which would have made it 2-2.
Michael Dawson headed Spurs level.
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Kyle Walker: 8.0
Jobi McAnuff had one half-chance in the first half but Reading never had enough of the ball to allow him to take on Walker.
The England defender had acres of space in front of him in the second half as he combined well with Aaron Lennon to carve Reading open.
He proved again what outstanding stamina he has to get back to cover Michael Dawson and block Jimmy Kebe as Reading threatened to grab an undeserved equalizer.
Michael Dawson: 8.0
Dawson scored his first league goal in four years when he nodded in Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner. He was treated for a bloody nose soon after but was okay to carry on.
He was more like a playmaker as Spurs had almost all of the ball but was caught out when Kebe ghosted in behind him.
He then somehow managed to smuggle an Alex Pearce header off the line as Reading enjoyed their most dangerous period of the game.
Jan Vertonghen: 7.0
He was under little pressure at the back as Spurs absolutely dominated possession in the first half.
Like Dawson, his main role was to give the ball to the midfielders in front of him.
Vertonghen was caught out by Pogrebnyak in the second half though but Lloris came to his rescue.
Kyle Naughton: 7
The full-back was making his 150th appearance in English football.
Started with Sigurdsson ahead of him and Spurs had problems on the left as both Naughton and the Icelandic international’s instincts are to drift inside.
Naughton was under no pressure defensively though and was constantly looking to give the ball to his strikers’ feet.
He started the second half pushed way forward as Spurs forced the visitors even further back and could have scored with a couple of long-range efforts.
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Aaron Lennon: 9
Lennon was up against one of the slowest defenders in the Premier League but his performance involved so much more than just beating the full-back.
The England winger—who’s one of the most underrated players in the league—worked hard to win the ball back countless times and always sought to get involved in the play.
The second half was much more productive for him as he set up Emmanuel Adebayor with a lovely dinked ball to the back post.
His energy was endless and he could have scored himself when he cut across the box only for Reading to block for the umpteenth time in the game.
The midfielder is now an indispensable asset for Spurs.
His touch may be clumsy at times—and he was lucky on one occasion not to find himself in the book for a studs-up tackle on Mikele Leigertwood—but he sticks his boot in countless times to win the ball back for his side.
The Brazilian combined well with Moussa Dembélé and went close when a long-range effort nicked off Sigurdsson before Adam Federici did well to save.
He drove another effort wide in the second half and was always alert as Reading briefly threatened to get something from the game. A huge, huge fans’ favorite.
Moussa Dembélé: 7
Gave away the free-kick from which Harte smacked the crossbar before Pogrebnyak nodded in the rebound.
The former Fulham man did his best to make amends thereafter, always trying to drive his side forward against a massed defense.
He went very close with one first-half shot from outside the box and was Hulk-like when in possession.
Dembélé was replaced by Scott Parker on 70 minutes as Villas-Boas looked to protect his fragile hip.
Gylfi Sigurdsson: 6
Sigurdsson was selected on the left of midfield as Gareth Bale’s replacement but he popped up in the middle as often as he did out wide.
When he was set free down the left his inability to swing in crosses on his weaker foot damaged Spurs.
It also served to help Reading’s defensive plans by condensing the play in the middle of the pitch.
He provided the corner from which Spurs equalized but needs to protect possession a bit better.
Adebayor leaps to head Spurs in front.
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Jermain Defoe: 6
Defoe had to do it all on his own in the first half and went close twice with shots off either foot.
His build-up play has been so much better this season and he is benefiting from Villas-Boas' clearer instructions.
He should have scored in the second half but scuffed a left-footed effort that Federici easily saved.
Emmanuel Adebayor: 7
The Togo international was on course for a rating of about five based on his performance in the opening 45 minutes.
He did most of his good work defensively in the first half but provided zero threat going forward.
He has made very little impact since signing permanently from Manchester City, lending credence to the view that complacency sets in once a long-term deal is inked.
However, he looked much livelier when the second half got under way and he set up Defoe and Sandro for early chances.
He got great power onto the header that put Spurs 2-1 up and then he took down the ball smartly to start the move that led to Clint Dempsey’s clinching strike.
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Scott Parker (for Dembélé): 6
Parker was very involved after his introduction and displayed typical combative and ball retention qualities.
He almost scored when he unleashed a long-range effort that looked to be heading to the top corner before Federici pulled off a stupendous save.
Clint Dempsey (for Sigurdsson): 6
The American international scored a replica of the goal he got at Everton. His strike was deflected and it looped over Federici for his first league goal at home for Spurs.
Jake Livermore (for Adebayor):
Not on long enough to be rated.