Row G right behind the goal isnâ€™t the best place in the world to watch a football game from but it was exactly the right spot from which to watch Jermain Defoe ultimately come out on top in what, over the two games, had turned into an almost personal battle between himself and Casper Ankergren, the Leeds keeper. Defoe completed his third hat-trick of the season in the dying seconds and in the process probably kicked off many a domestic in Spurs households all over the country seeing as how a visit to the Reebok on Valentineâ€™s Day is probably not what most partners think theyâ€™re letting themselves in for at the start of a relationship.
There was lots to admire in this Spurs performance but top of the pile was the performance of David Bentley who, in his best showing in a Spurs shirt, gave a display of industry combined with quality delivery as well as chucking in a couple of mazy runs for good measure. The most common discussion amongst the amazed and delighted Spurs fans afterwards started with the words â€œBentley! Wtf?â€. And there was plenty of time to have a chat about the game in the immediate aftermath as West Yorkshireâ€™s finest decided to keep us in for 35 minutes after the final whistle and then cause enough fuss in the roads outside Elland Road to ensure we didnâ€™t leave the car park next to the ground until gone 11pm. Great.
Defoe had already had a number of shots saved by Ankergren before in the 37th minute Bentley dummied on the right and sped away from two Leeds defenders. His cut back found Defoe in space and off balance. He managed to get a shot away and his left foot sliced lob seemed to take an age to come down and when it did, it fell into the Leeds net. This triggered a full on onslaught from the home team and roared on by a whipped up crowd they pushed us back. Gomes made a terrific save from the giant Michalik as we hoofed and hacked and generally failed to cope with the pressure. Leeds were rewarded when Becchio tapped in the rebound from a Beckford flicked shot after a low cross from the right. The Spurs defenders stood and watched the replay on the big screen which showed clearly that both players were offside when the ball was played in by Howson. So we now had a situation where even before play had restarted everyone in the ground who watched the replay knew that the goal had been wrongly awarded. â€œSod itâ€, said Andre Marriner, â€œletâ€™s just carry on and pretend no-one noticedâ€.
I feared a bit for the second half as despite all the hard work and chances created we were still only level, but I neednâ€™t have. We were excellent in the second forty five and dominated. Beckford had a very quiet game compared to White Hart Lane and any threat before half time had come from Snodgrass who wriggled past Bale a few times and stuck in some dangerous crosses. There were no such incidents in the second half as the reborn Welshmen decided to fight fire with fire and spent most of second period haring towards the Leeds byeline. Defoe had already had a goal from a Bale cross scratched off for offside when after 73 minutes Bentley provided his second assist of the evening with a cracking low ball across the six yard area which JD first timed home.
Leeds were all long ball by now as Huddlestone and Kranjcar in particular shut down the home teamâ€™s midfield. Dawson and Bassong dealt comfortably with everything launched at them and in injury time Defoe latched onto a clearance, rounded an out of position keeper and completed a fine third goal.
Finally, hats off to Harry Redknapp. He took a chance in resting Modric and Palacios and it paid off. We now have those two relatively fresh for Saturday to add to potentially Ledley, Pav, Gudjohnsen and Kaboul at least. Add the police shenanigans afterwards to the blizzards on the motorway beforehand and it became a very long day, but it also turned into a memorable one for the right reasons.
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