Tottenham rediscover goalscoring touch to overpower lacklustre Stoke
Goals from Soldado, Dembele and Lennon enough to earn the points
Tottenham Hotspur manager Tim Sherwood gives instructions during their clash against Stoke City
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 STOKE CITY 0: Spurs dominated from the start, though at first it looked as if they might again be foiled by the inept finishing that has afflicted them all season.
Emmanuel Adebayor and Christian Eriksen were guilty of clumsy close-range misses in the 13th minute after Aaron Lennon had fired the ball across the face of goal. One minute later Soldado dragged a shot wide from the edge of the area after being brilliantly set up by Paulinho who, until he was forced off by injury in the second half, was outstanding in midfield, bewildering opponents with canny flicks and festive tricks. “He was immense . . . I didn’t know he possessed that, to be honest. He’s opened my eyes,” said Spurs manager Tim Sherwood.
Stoke, who had to adjust their line-up after having two players sent off in the Boxing Day defeat at Newcastle, were overrun in the middle. Mark Hughes was aghast at the performance of the officials at St James’ Park and was soon aggrieved as Kevin Friend saw no foul when Jonathan Walters went down under a challenge by the last defender, Zeki Fryers, after a rare Stoke attack.
Then, in the 34th minute, the referee waved play on after Oussama Assaidi tumbled in the box. Three minutes later Stoke’s ire intensified when Ryan Shawcross was punished for blocking an Adebayor scissor kick with his upraised arms. Soldado converted the penalty. That was his fifth league goal of the campaign, his fourth from the spot.
Mousa Dembele triggered an explosion of joy when he rifled the ball into the net from 25 yards. Four minutes later Lennon claimed the goal that his display deserved from 15 yards.
Spurs were superior and Hughes did not dwell on the referee’s decisions. “In terms of the quality on show and the way Spurs played we found it very difficult,” he said.
Sherwood knows it may not always be like this: “I like to play with risk and, with all due respect to Stoke, there are going to be tougher tests ahead and we have to try to find the right formula for playing against the bigger teams.” Guardian Service