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Spurs seize initiative to turn jeers to cheers

Monday, 24 September 2012 - 12:59pm IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph
It takes a big man to admit he has made mistakes, and Andre Villas-Boas showed that he is growing in stature as Tottenham's manager with a frank admission of his own.


Tottenham Hotspur 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

It takes a big man to admit he has made mistakes, and Andre Villas-Boas showed that he is growing in stature as Tottenham's manager with a frank admission of his own.

Spurs won at home for the first time this season, and moved into the top half of the table, but only after coming from behind against a spirited QPR side who outplayed them for 45 minutes.

Tottenham's fortunes were transformed by two goals around the hour-mark, after Bobby Zamora had put Mark Hughes's side ahead deservedly in a first half they dominated thanks to a misjudgement by Villas-Boas. The Portuguese manager had decided to let QPR have the initiative, deploying Jermain Defoe as a lone striker with support from an attack-minded midfield, in the hope of exploiting gaps in the visitor's defence.

Instead it was QPR who made the most of sloppy passing and poor defending from Spurs, who did not register a shot on target until the second half, by which time Villas-Boas had changed personnel and formation to good effect.

Jan Vertonghen was switched from central defence to left-back, allowing Gareth Bale to move back into midfield and run at the Rangers defence, and with Clint Dempsey supporting Defoe in the 4-4-2 formation that has served Spurs so well over the past few seasons, they gradually took control.

An own goal from Alejandro Faurlin and Defoe's sixth strike of the season for club and country in the space of a minute were enough to overturn Zamora's 32nd-minute opener, and once Tottenham were ahead they did not look like losing.

But it was a different story at half-time, as the home side were jeered by their own supporters for the third home game in succession.

Villas-Boas said: "In the beginning we thought that giving QPR the initiative was the best solution but it proved to be wrong. You make your own criticism, and we changed from the first half for the second."

The Portuguese agreed with Hughes's assertion that QPR had controlled the first half, especially in midfield where Faurlin and Esteban Granero dictated play. "We felt we should have won," said the QPR manager, who complained that two of his players were fouled in the build-up to Tottenham's winning goal.

"We dominated proceedings in the first half, were 1-0 to the good and if it hadn't have been for Brad Friedel, it might have been more."

Indeed, while Julio Cesar did not have a save to make until the 50th minute, his opposite number kept Spurs in the game. Friedel was recalled after France captain Hugo Lloris had made his debut in the Europa League last Thursday. The 41-year-old American was making his 309th consecutive league appearance, and was soon in action, tipping a Clint Hill header over the bar and then palming away a fierce volley from Junior Hoilett.

QPR played the better football and took a deserved lead. Tottenham's defence failed to clear their lines twice following a corner, allowing Faurlin to play a precise through pass for Zamora, who produced a cool finish to beat Friedel.

Tottenham were rocked, and it could have been worse when Friedel had to dive full-length to keep out a long shot from the lively Hoilett.

Villas-Boas's side were booed off at half-time, but had more purpose after the change of formation. They equalised in the 60th minute when the unfortunate Faurlin put the ball into his own net after Steven Caulker headed a corner from Bale back across goal.

The ball went in off the Argentine's shoulder to put Spurs level, and within a minute they were ahead. Vertonghen and Bale led a swift counter-attack, and although the Welshman's shot was deflected on to the crossbar by Cesar's legs, Defoe was on hand to hammer home the loose ball from close range.

Tottenham had chances to increase their lead with Bale, Dempsey and Defoe denied in the closing stages, as they held on for a second successive league win.

"It is important that people understand we wanted this home win for some time but it has escaped us for various reasons," said Villas-Boas afterwards. "You could feel the anxiety when we went 1-0 down, mainly from the stadium's [crowd's] emotions, but as soon as the players responded in the second half, so the stadium responded."

 


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