Vertonghen fires Tottenham into top four
LONDON (AFP) –
Jan Vertonghen struck in the 75th minute to earn Tottenham Hotspur a 1-0 win at home to Swansea City on Sunday that lifted Andre Villas-Boas’s side into the Champions League places.
Beaten 2-1 at Everton in their previous outing, Spurs created most of the chances at White Hart Lane but had to wait until 15 minutes from time for Vertonghen to give them victory with a sharp finish.
The win elevates Spurs into fourth place, level on points with third-place Chelsea but having played a game more, while League Cup semi-finalists Swansea — who have not won at Spurs in 15 league games — remain 10th.
“It was very important and gets us back to fourth place,” said Spurs coach Villas-Boas.
“The table is tight but it was good to give something back to the fans at White Hart Lane.”
Swansea coach Michael Laudrup said: “It was a difficult game against a great team. We started well before they put us under pressure.
“We were not at our best offensively. The last 10 percent we missed, but I’m pleased with the performance of my team.”
Swansea immediately settled into their familiar passing rhythm, but as the game slowly came to life, it was Tottenham who imposed themselves.
After Sandro had shanked a shot out of play for a throw-in, Jermain Defoe displayed slightly better accuracy by stepping inside Chico Flores and shooting straight at Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.
The visitors were guilty of over-elaboration on occasion and Michu, more accustomed to the opposition penalty area, had to produce a superb sliding block to deny Defoe after he had been dispossessed by Mousa Dembele.
For all the commitment to short passing on show, the first half concluded amid a hail of long-range efforts.
Kyle Walker saw a brutal pile-driver parried in unorthodox fashion by Tremmel, and after Jonathan de Guzman had fired over at the other end, Aaron Lennon brought Tremmel into action again with his left foot.
Michu then sent Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris scrambling backwards with an audacious 50-yard lob that dipped over the bar.
Lloris and Michu shared a joke as they left the pitch at half-time but the Frenchman would not have been smiling early in the second period had Nathan Dyer met Wayne Routledge’s left-wing cross with a more telling header.
Tremmel then tipped a looping header from Vertonghen onto the roof of his net before Walker squandered a fine opportunity, blazing well off target from Defoe’s lay-off after steaming into the box from deep.
There was a blow for Villas-Boas with 20 minutes remaining when Emmanuel Adebayor had to leave the fray after appearing to take a blow to his ankle.
His mood improved significantly five minutes later, however, as Vertonghen put Spurs ahead.
Walker’s deep free-kick from the right found the Belgian international unmarked 12 yards from goal and he swivelled neatly to plant a crisp half-volley in the bottom-right corner.
The former Ajax centre-back headed wide shortly after and then saw a free-kick deflected wide, while Tremmel thwarted Defoe again, but one goal was to prove sufficient.
Villas-Boas was given further reason to cheer in injury time when Scott Parker came off the bench to make his first appearance of the season after undergoing Achilles surgery in August.
The match dissolved into acrimony, however, with Swansea’s players aggrieved that the hosts played on after an aerial collision between Lloris and Michu left the Spaniard flat on his back in the Spurs area.