Tottenham 2-1 Birmingham

29 August 2009 03:59
Aaron Lennon scored a dramatic winner in the fifth minute of injury time to break Birmingham hearts and maintain Spurs' 100% start to the new campaign. The winger cut in from the left and drove into the corner to cap a stunning finale that City looked like edging. Peter Crouch had earlier climbed off the bench to head Spurs into the lead to reward the hosts' fluency in attack. But Lee Bowyer poked in after a mix-up to apparently earn City a point - only for Lennon to have the final say. It was a gut-wrenching finish for the visitors, who had looked the likelier to grab a winner after Bowyer's equaliser as Spurs ran out of ideas in the face of City's determined and hard-fought approach. But Tottenham can argue they edged an entertaining encounter on the balance of play, even if they owed the three points in the end to a piece of individual brilliance from Lennon. Spurs deserved late winner - Jordan And it was a match deserving of such a finale following a high-octane encounter that boasted chances, passing and passion of the highest order at times. From the off, the hosts' drive and ambition was in full evidence, with Luka Modric and Lennon pushing and probing at every opportunity and Birmingham struggling to keep pace with the diminutive pair. The latter in particular was a real threat, once denied on the stretch by goalkeeper Joe Hart and then seeing a snap-shot from the right cleared off the line by Stephen Carr with Hart stranded. Jermain Defoe, so prolific so far this season, had his chances, but the best of them saw him scuff his shot wide having been sent clear by Tom Huddlestone. But having survived a pulsating opening from the hosts, Birmingham soon settled down, frustrating Tottenham and nullifying their early verve. 606: DEBATE I did say at the end of last season that it would be different when `Arry had HIS team from the start but I did not believe it could be this good billbeeby And twice they could have snatched an opener on the counter-attack. Sebastian Larsson was the man on both occasions to break beyond the Tottenham defence from midfield, his first cross-shot beaten away by Carlo Cudicini and the second creeping past the far post. By half-time, City's bid to calm Tottenham's attacking intentions looked to have worked, with the hosts hardly helped by the withdrawal through injury of Ledley King (groin) and Modric (calf). Had referee Peter Walton not waved away Birmingham's passionate appeals for a penalty when James McFadden fell clumsily under Wilson Palacios's challenge in the box, on the hour, the outcome might have been very different. As it was, Spurs took the lead not long after, with substitute Crouch the scorer - his first league goal since his return to White Hart Lane from Portsmouth, this summer. McLeish reflects on 'cruel' defeat The 6'7" frontman had caused all sorts of problems since his introduction, heading onto the bar from Robbie Keane's cross and then seeing a fine header from a corner cleared off the line by Lee Carsley. Crouch was rewarded when he climbed highest at the far post to meet Huddlestone's free-kick to loop a header into the far corner to finally break the deadlock. That looked like being the goal Tottenham needed to go on and win the game comfortably, but after Christian Benitez forced a mix-up between Alan Hutton and Cudicini and Bowyer swept into an empty net, Birmingham looked the only likely winners. The visitors pushed forward and Benitez went close and Roger Johnson volleyed wide as panic set in and about Spurs' defence. However, against the run of play, Lennon collected Roman Pavlyuchenko's crossfield pass, drifted past two defenders and slammed low into the near post past keeper Hart. It prompted incredible scenes among the White Hart Lane faithful and disbelief among City's, but there was barely time to restart ensuring Spurs stay, alongside Chelsea, at the top of the table and leave Birmingham with only one victory from their last 15 visits to London. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp: "We battered them and should have been out of sight by half-time. Crouch was terrific and could have scored three or four today, but we gave a terrible goal away which gave them heart. "They came back strongly and looked as likely to win it as we were in the last 15 minutes. In the end it's a great result and a great 12 points so far. "However, Ledley has done his groin and we don't know how long he will be out for yet, while Modric's looked like a nasty injury on the side of the right calf. "If we lose Ledley and Modric, with Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate already out, the squad is a bit short." Birmingham boss Alex McLeish: "(The late winner) was a boot in the proverbials. But life goes on. We deserved something for our second-half performance. "We could have won the game at the end after we equalised and I'm disappointed not to have taken three points. "We were playing against a multi-million pound team and we had lots out with injuries and we gave a great account of ourselves."

Source: BBC_Sport