Spurs-Blackburn: White-Hot Lennon Scorches Rovers

Chris PotterCorrespondent INovember 23, 2008

Tottenham Hotspur beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0 this afternoon to climb to 14th and away from relegation—for the time being.

The verdict will be: must do better.

For, with Paul ince's side one goal and one man down after 40 minutes, Spurs should have run riot in front of their supporters.

Instead, the fans endured a nervous afternoon that proved that all is still not well at The Lane.

Blackburn came into the game hoping to end a streak of seven league matches without a victory but any hopes of piling the pressure on their relegation rivals vanished within minutes.

Such was the dominance that Tottenham—in particular Aaron Lennon—enjoyed in the opening minutes, the home side should have put Blackburn to the sword even before Marin Olsson's 40th-minute sending off for a second bookable offence.

Spurs, playing with Pavlyuchenko and Bent up front, set off on the front foot and went ahead after nine minutes when Lennon dispossessed the hapless Olsson, sprinted to the byline and pulled the ball back for the prolific Pavlyuchenko to curl his effort past ex-Spurs stopper Robinson into the far corner from eight yards out.

Minutes later, Bentley curled a free kick invitingly towards the penalty spot. Fortunately for Rovers, Pavlyuchenko could only direct it onto the outside of the far post with a flicked header.

Despite Lennon's energy and skill, Blackburn threatened to equalise several times as a result of their direct approach. Christopher Samba could not make contact when in front of goal and Gomes' erratic handling continued to cause a defensive headache for Ledley King and Johnathan Woodgate.

The plan was to surround Gomes in the goalmouth from setplays, firing the ball at him with venom. Where Jimmy Bullard and Paul Konchesky succeeded in executing this plan a week ago, Blackburn's Pedersen and Emerton failed.

Gomes dropped such a set-piece shortly before Spurs took the lead. He then had Woodgate to thank for heading away Emerton's lob when the Australian's run caught the keeper in two minds. But Blackburn barely tested him thereafter as fans behind his goal cheered his every touch.

Lennon capped a sensational half of football from a personal point of view by tricking Martin Olsson into a wild lunge on the right touchline, leaving referee Howard Webb with an easy decision to book the player for a second time.

Ince looked to consolidate his team after the break by reverting to a 4-4-1 formation with Man Utd full-back Danny Simpson replacing the ineffective Benni McCarthy.

Infuratingly for Harry Redknapp, Tottenham relaxed and drifted into cruise control as their passing became sloppy and their movement predictable. Instead of taking advantage of a profitable situation, the home team passed the ball sideways and backwards. 

England hopefuls Huddlestone and Jenas lacked purpose, Lennon was deprived of possession and Bentley misfired time and again. The introduction of FraizerCampbell sparked some life into the proceedings but, with five minutes left, he improbably glanced a header wide from Bentley's centre.

Jenas and Rovers substitute Andrews' spat over an innocuous tangle brought each player a yellow card and the game petered out.

Three points and a clean sheet for Spurs, more worries for Paul Ince.

Full Time: Tottenham 1-0 Blackburn

Scorer: Pavlyuchenko 9'


Spurs - Gomes 5;Corluka 6, King 7, Woodgate 7, Assou-Ekotto 5;LENNON 8, Jenas 5, Huddlestone 6, Bentley 4;Pavlyuchenko 6 (Campbell 5), Bent 5

Blackburn - Robinson 6;Oijer 6, Samba 6, Nelsen 6, Olsson 3; Emerton 6 (Derbyshire 5), Mokoena 5, Andrews 5, Pedersen 5 (Treacy 5); Santa Cruz 5, McCarthy 4 (Simpson 6) 

Referee - Howard Webb  7