Spurs tighten grip on fourth and return to winning ways


TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp savoured his first Premier League victory of 2010 after goals from Peter Crouch and David Bentley boosted their Champions League aspirations.

Spurs came into the match without a win in three but England forward Crouch eased their nerves with a 27th-minute strike. Out-of-favour midfielder Bentley justified his first league start since October by securing the three points with a free-kick that deflected off Bjorn Helge Riise.

The triumph, coupled with Liverpool’s inability to beat Wolves, allowed fourth-placed Spurs to open up a three-point gap over the Reds, and eased Redknapp’s frustration.

“Three points for Tottenham, that’s the main thing,” he said. “We have been playing well but we’ve come up against some goalkeepers in good form and it was important to get the three points.”

The only negative for Redknapp was an injury that could leave goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes sidelined. “Our keeper got a knock in the shoulder tonight which didn’t look very good and he needed an injection,” he added. “I don’t know how long it will be before he is 100 per cent.”

Fulham, who have won away in the league just once all season, looked a shadow of the team who have amassed an 11-game unbeaten run at home. “I’m disappointed for the lads,” said manager Roy Hodgson. “We were a bit unlucky with the second goal, it took a cruel deflection.”

Spurs full-back Gareth Bale had extra cause to celebrate – victory ended the Welshman’s two-and-a-half-year wait to win a top-flight game in which he started.

The home side flew out of the traps, Tom Huddlestone testing Mark Schwarzer in the first minute, and took the lead just as Fulham were beginning to settle. Schwarzer flapped at Bentley’s cross, Luka Modric kept the ball in play and squared for Crouch, who proved sharper than Manchester United-bound defender Chris Smalling and finished from close range.

Bentley made the points safe on the hour. The £15m forgotten man struck his set-piece well from wide on the left but it was the cruel deflection off Riise that beat Schwarzer.

Man Utd 23 16 2 5 53 19 50
Arsenal 22 15 3 4 59 25 48
Chelsea 21 15 3 3 52 18 48
Tottenham 23 12 5 6 44 24 41
Liverpool 23 11 5 7 40 26 38
Man City 21 10 8 3 42 30 38