Van der Vaart triggers Spurs comeback against Wolves

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles
Tottenham Hotspur

Rafael van der Vaart’s 76th-minute penalty sparked a Spurs comeback after Steven Fletcher had given Wolves a first-half lead at White Hart Lane.

Roman Pavyluchenko and Alan Hutton added two late goals for Harry Rednkapp’s men as they sealed their first home win of the season.

Mick McCarthy’s men have come under scrutiny in recent weeks having been accused of an overly heavy-handed defensive approach. But on Saturday they looked to have displayed enough dynamism and tenacity to secure their second victory in as many seasons at White Hart Lane.

Wolves pressed the home side all over the pitch with the enterprising Kevin Doyle leading from the front. The Ireland international chased down every long ball and harried the home side’s defenders into mistakes.

In defence, the lion-hearted Jody Craddock was accompanied by the tireless Richard Stearman – the pair managing to keep Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane relatively quiet, efficiently containing the duo’s threat. Gareth Bale continued to impress on the left side of midfield and whipped in a number of dangerous crosses which deserved end products.

New signing van der Vaart showed flashes of brilliance and almost scored a wondrous volley, only to be denied by an athletic stop from Marcus Hahnemann.

The visitors took the lead just before the break and much against the flow of the game. Spurs were dominant but Wolves deserved reward for their incessant running and steadfast defending. Ryan Jarvis stole down the right wing and squared for Fletcher who clinically steered the ball into the net.

Spurs continued to press in the second half but the away side coped adequately. With the supporters growing restless, Redknapp introduced Pavyluchenko in search of an equaliser. However, it was the other Spurs substitute, full back Alan Hutton, who provided the piece of magic to change the outcome of the match.

The former Rangers full-back dribbled into the box and was recklessly fouled by Ward to earn Spurs a penalty. Dutch midfielder van der Vaart then calmly dispatched the spot-kick past Hahnemann. The manner of the leveller will have frustrated McCarthy – after 75 minutes of efficient defending, a momentary lapse helped instigate a Spurs comeback.

Indeed, matters soon worsened for the Wolves boss. Tom Huddlestone’s shot inadvertently deflected to the feet of Russia striker Pavlyuchenko, who simply slotted the ball to the left of the Wolves goalkeeper. Hutton then added polish to the victory with a late strike to seal the three points with the scoreline ultimately not reflecting the visitors’ valiant efforts.a

“We were certainly the architects of our own downfall by allowing them to open us up and then get the penalty,” said McCarthy after the match. “You give Champions League teams a chance and they’ll punish you, and that’s what’s happened.”

Today’s other Barclays Premier League results:

Stoke 1-1 West Ham
Aston Villa 1-1 Bolton
Blackburn 1-1 Fulham
Everton 0-1 Newcastle
West Brom 3-1 Birmingham
Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal


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