Monday, February 23, 2009

Hull City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Jonathan Woodgate headed a late winner as Tottenham snatched a crucial 2-1 Premier League victory at Hull.

The Spurs defender powered Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross past Matt Duke with just five minutes remaining of a scrappy, but entertaining contest at the KC Stadium.
Aaron Lennon had given Spurs a 17th-minute lead with a sublime strike but defender Michael Turner scrambled home an equaliser 10 minutes later.

The victory eased the pressure at the bottom of the table for Carling Cup finalists Spurs and lifted them to 14th, just one point behind Hull and five above the bottom three.

Hull's form, however, remains a serious concern with just one win in their last 17 games.

Harry Redknapp made 10 changes as Spurs reverted to a near full-strength line-up following last week's UEFA Cup clash with Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.

Spurs have a second leg against Shakhtar and their Wembley date with Manchester United to contend with this week but Redknapp's need for points was evident in his selection. A host of senior players were back in action while Carlo Cudicini was given another chance to impress in goal in place of the error-prone Heurelho Gomes.

It was not a choice that immediately instilled confidence with the Italian, recently brought in from the Chelsea reserves, enduring a number of uneasy moments.

Hull had striker Daniel Cousin back in their side after injury but Geovanni, match-winner when the sides met in October, was surprisingly left on the bench.

Richard Garcia was given another chance in attack and the Australian looked in the mood, winning a corner in the opening minutes with a deflected shot.

Spurs then suffered a scare of their own making when Woodgate attempted to head a Garcia flick-on back to Cudicini.

The goalkeeper was caught unawares and had to scramble back to gather.

Spurs responded and won a corner when Anthony Gardner, making only his fifth Hull appearance since his £2.5million move from Spurs last summer, produced a fine tackle on Darren Bent.

The opener then came as Luka Modric played a short one-two from the corner with Robbie Keane and then found Lennon in good space on the edge of the box.

Lennon was given too much time by Hull and rifled a superb 20-yard shot past Duke with 16 minutes gone.

Hull were unbowed and, after a slight lull in proceedings, claimed a scrappy equaliser 10 minutes later after Vedran Corluka needlessly conceded a corner.

Cudicini failed to gather Andy Dawson's subsequent cross and the ball rebounded towards goal off the feet of Wilson Palacios.

Defender Turner was the quickest to react and made no mistake as he slid in to stab home his fifth goal of the season from close range.

Hull almost turned the game on its head just moments later as the ball broke to Cousin on the edge of the area and the former Rangers man flashed a fierce shot narrowly over.

Hull grew in confidence and a good break by Garcia from deep only broke down when Cousin failed to read his pass.

Sam Ricketts led another counter-attack but could not make firm contact with a header after laying off to Dean Marney and racing into the area for the resulting cross.

Dawson also shot over from a free-kick after Modric earned a booking for bringing down Kevin Kilbane.

The second half began at a frantic pace with both sides struggling to retain possession. The first chance fell to Spurs but Duke was equal to a smart turn and shot from Bent.

Cudicini then induced further panic in the Spurs box when he chose not to attack another corner and had to palm away a Gardner header.

Kilbane pounced on the rebound but his effort was blocked at close range.

Gardner was then in action in his own area, getting his body in the way of a sweetly-struck volley from Palacios which seemed destined for the back of the net.

Both sides conceded plenty of free-kicks and Hull were almost undone when Modric floated one into their box and Corluka rose to head against the bar.

Hull were also finding set-pieces and crosses the most likely route to success after Cudicini flapped at another high ball.

Hull hit the woodwork 13 minutes from time when Kamil Zayatte nodded a Dawson corner across goal but against the far post.

It seemed unlikely that another goal would not materialise before the end and Spurs snatched the game when Assou-Ekotto picked out Woodgate with a fine cross.

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