Blackburn Rovers 1
(Formica – 28)
(Van der Vaart – 15, 53)
A Rafael Van der Vaart double either side of the break was enough to take all three points at Blackburn Rovers today, despite Tottenham spending the latter half of the game on the backfoot.
The Dutchman was one of eight changes from the mid-week 1-0 win over Rubin Kazan, as Harry Redknapp continues to field his fringe and youth players for the Europa League.
Spurs started the brighter of the two sides as both Jason Lowe and Gael Givet did well to block efforts from Emmanuel Adebayor and Gareth Bale, respectively.
And for all the hard-work in the initial quarter of an hour, it was hardly surprising to see Redknapp’s side take the initiative early on, Kyle Walker the player to instigate the move, playing a one-two with Adebayor before cutting back to Van der Vaart who calmly slotted home to make it 1-0.
It could have be two moments later, Bale this time flying down the left-flank and with his cross destined for Adebayor, Martin Olsson did well to stop the ball while former Spur Paul Robinson had to be at his best to tip the ball over for a corner.
Bale again was terrorising the the Blackburn back four and his ball into the box minutes later was met by Adebayor but Robinson was again on hand to keep the ball.
However, despite the early pressure, the home side managed to nick an equaliser two minutes before the half-hour mark, Morten Gamst-Pedersen’s floated free-kick found Christopher Samba who knocked down for Mauro Formica to smash home and make it 1-1.
Chances apiece for either side after the equaliser as Luka Modric tested Robinson at one-end while Brad Friedel did well to parry David Holiet’s effort before Samba glanced an easy header wide as Steve Kean’s side finished the half the stronger of the two.
Nonetheless, Spurs again took the initiative after the break after just seven minutes with Benoit Assou-Ekotto starting the move with his ball finding the Dutchman who, in turn, found Modric only for Robinson to clear.
It was only a temporary reprieve, however, after Bale mis-cued his effort from Aaron Lennon’s cross which found Assou-Ekotto once more. He picked out Van der Vaart at the edge of the area who placed a 20-yard curler from beyond Robinson.
And the Cameroonian international was on hand at the other end, clearing up from Friedel’s spill while Steven N’Zonzi blasted the resulting effort over.
Blackburn began to turn up the pressure and it took a decent Friedel tip over the bar from Samba to prevent the home side drawing level once more while Modric’s dipping effort was palmed away by Robinson.
Yakubu, having recently entered the fray, almost scored minutes after coming on, another Pedersen header turned into the Nigerian’s path by Samba but his goalbound effort flicked off Bale and flew over the bar.
The striker again came close in the final ten minutes but could only send Olsson’s cross wide of the post but the turned out to be the final registered effort of the game as Spurs held on for all three points.
“We were 1-0 up and we were in control of the game, and suddenly they (Blackburn) got the equaliser and came at us strongly,” Redknapp told Sky Sports News after the game.
“In the end we were hanging out there as they put us under severe pressure.”