Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ex-Liverpool player on target for Spurs

Robbie Keane's first goal since returning to Tottenham and a double from Aaron Lennon ensured there was no Carling Cup hangover for Harry Redknapp's men as they romped to a 4-0 victory over Middlesbrough.

Keane opened the scoring before Roman Pavlyuchenko and Lennon added to the scoreline before the break as Spurs moved closer to mid-table after starting the match two points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Lennon then added a fourth in the second half at White Hart Lane, building on his performance at Wembley on Sunday when he had the beating of Manchester United full-back Patrice Evra.

It was just the response Spurs boss Redknapp wanted after losing on penalties to United, a clash Keane was cup-tied for after playing three minutes earlier in the competition for Liverpool.

That was part of an unhappy six months at Anfield - but he helped erase those memories with the opener in the ninth minute.

Luka Modric's corner was flicked on by Michael Dawson and Keane stabbed home from close range.

It was his first goal at Spurs' home ground in nearly a year and it came in his third appearance since returning.

Redknapp had wanted a positive reply in contrast to last season, while Juande Ramos was boss, when Spurs won just three more league matches after going to Wembley.

Despite Keane settling the nerves, Spurs were still not in total control after the opener.

Tuncay Sanli thought he had equalised when he latched on to Stewart Downing's long pass and finished off, only for the assistant referee to halt his celebrations.

Pavlyuchenko rubbed salt into the wound by adding the second in the 14th minute, finishing off Modric's cross from six yards out after the Croatia playmaker turned Robert Huth.

If Tuncay thought he was unfortunate to have his goal disallowed, he must have thought he had run out of luck when he drilled a shot that was blocked by Dawson's backside as the defender bravely slid in.

Keane should have extended the lead 10 minutes before the break when Modric weighted a pass through and Brad Jones had to rush out to block the finish - then the Spurs skipper for the night helped set up the third.

Almost the whole of the Spurs team had a hand in the goal as they strung together pass after pass, but it was Keane who threaded the ball through Huth's legs to give Lennon a clear run on goal.

Lennon followed up his Wembley performance with a cool finish, with Boro boss Gareth Southgate turning to his dugout in disgust at the ease in which the hosts had scored.

Huth's mistakes for two of the three first-half goals meant he was hauled off at half-time and replaced by Andrew Taylor.

It was a disastrous 45 minutes rather than the solid performance Southgate wanted after beating Liverpool at the weekend, a first victory in 15 attempts.

It could have been different had Downing, who Spurs made a bid for during the January transfer window, put away an early chance to open the scoring.

Seizing on Jonathan Woodgate's poor clearance, Downing fired an angled shot that Heurelho Gomes had to parry away, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto beating Tuncay to the rebound.

But after Spurs put away their chances, Boro were playing for pride and looking to avoid the psychological damage of a heavy defeat.

Spurs went in search of a fourth goal after the break and asked for a penalty when Keane was bundled over by Emanuel Pogatetz.

Tuncay's looping effort struck Gomes' far post in the second half - and Boro needed that to go in if there was any hope of a comeback.

Lennon added the fourth with 11 minutes remaining, chipping home after Keane slipped him through.

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