4:54pm Tuesday 1st January 2013
By Chris Hewett
Tottenham Hotspur climbed to third in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over relegation contenders Reading at White Hart Lane.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side had to come from a goal behind before running out easy winners to make it seven wins in their last nine games.
Pavel Pogrebnyak gave the visitors a surprise early lead on four minutes when he headed in the rebound from Ian Harte’s free-kick which hammered the bar.
Spurs levelled on nine minutes through a Michael Dawson header and second half goals from Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey sealed victory.
The win sees Spurs jump above Chelsea, who play tomorrow, and three points was no more than Villas-Boas team deserved after a solid display against a lacklustre Reading.
Spurs started well but found themselves behind out of the blue thanks to a Reading set piece.
Harte’s left-footed free kick from the edge of the area rebounded off the cross bar straight to Pogrebnyak who headed into an empty net in the fifth minute.
Spurs could feel aggrieved at the awarding of the free kick as Dembele got a large chunk of the ball when he tackled the Russian on the right edge of the box but referee Howard Webb blew up for a foul.
There was no mistaking the quality of Harte’s effort though which curled over the wall and rattled the underside of the bar before bouncing into Pogrebnyak’s path.
Adebayor went close with a far post header soon after but Tottenham deservedly levelled through Dawson on nine minutes.
The centre back got in front of Pogrebnyak at the near post to head home Gylfi Sigurdsson’s corner.
Defoe fired over moments after the restart and Sigurdsson went close with a deflected effort that looped over the bar.
Dembele fizzed a shot past the right post of Adam Federici in the Reading goal while Defoe flashed just wide from 25 yards.
Federici reacted well to stop Sandro’s low deflected shot before half time as Spurs squandered a myriad of chances to go ahead.
Adebayor finally put the home side in front at the start of the second half when he met Lennon’s floated cross at the far post.
Sandro went narrowly wide with another long range effort before Lennon had his shot well blocked from the edge of the six yard box as Spurs pressed to further their lead.
Reading posed little threat with the Spurs centre-backs, in particular Dawson, putting on a bullish display to keep out lone striker Pogrebnyak.
The Russian did go close during a rare Reading attack on 72 minutes but Lloris got down well to save his first effort and the forward headed the follow-up wide.
Vertonghen’s last ditch tackled prevented Kebe levelling for the visitors with just over ten minutes to go and Spurs were forced to see out a wave of subsequent corners.
But Tottenham took the game out of sight when substitute Dempsey’s shot from 30-yards took a huge deflection off Mikele Leigertwood and looped high over Federici and into the goal.
Substitute Scott Parker forced a superb save from Federici in the 90th minute as Spurs looked to go further ahead.
Spurs now welcome Coventry in the Third Round of the FA Cup this weekend before continuing their Premier League campaign away at QPR on January 14.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Naughton, Lennon, Sandro, Dembele (Parker, 69), Sigurdsson (Dempsey, 75), Adebayor (Livermore, 87), Defoe. Subs: Friedel, Huddlestone, Falque, Caulker.
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Kebe, Karacan (Robson-Kanu, 56), Leigertwood, Guthrie, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak (Hunt, 83). Subs: Taylor, Le Fondre, Morrison, Tabb, Cummings.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).
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