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COMMENT: Saints forwards boost World Cup hopes
THE result was ultimately a bad one, but at least Saints’ England forwards did their World Cup chances no harm in front of England manager Roy Hodgson.
The Lambert-Rodriguez-Lallana triumvirate was outstanding as Saints raced into a 2-0 lead while Hodgson looked down, presumably pondering his options for Brazil.
Rodriguez’s calm, composed finish – a side-footed pass across Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and into the far corner – would not have looked out of place at the highest level.
He now has 13 Premier League goals this season (only two English strikers, Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney, have more).
Meanwhile, Lambert linked play like Teddy Sheringham at his best.
As Matt Le Tissier tweeted before the game, Saints’ latest No 7 has more footballing attributes than Andy Carroll, his main rival for a World Cup squad place, who would most likely be used as an aerial threat coming off the bench.
Le Tissier is absolutely right, Lambert offers so much more. As if to emphasise the point, Lambert provided a timely reminder of those attributes in thr first half.
Saints may have thrown away their lead but Lambert and Adam Lallana were at the heart of an outstanding opening half-hour, when Mauricio Pochettino’s side played the sort of football Spurs love to be associated with.
Lambert and Lallana combined to wonderful effect to double Saints’ lead. Lambert’s awareness of his fellow forwards was a masterclass for any young striker. It was reminiscent of what Sheringham used to do so well for England.
Sheringham was a White Hart Lane favourite, the perfect link man, and would have been proud of the pass that Lambert saw and then executed to create Lallana’s goal.
It may have stemmed from a mistake by Kyle Naughton, as Rodriguez’s goal had done, but it was Lambert’s awareness and unselfishness that created the opening.
You get a genuine sense of the quality and physicality of the Premier League at Spurs, where the press area is nearly at touchline level.
But there was no panic from Lambert as the Spurs defenders flapped around him. He had time on the ball, the hallmark belonging to all great players, as his sharp thinking and quick feet fashioned the opportunity.
It was the perfect example of his sang-froid in the heat of battle, a quality that will be invaluable in Brazil’s footballing cauldrons. Lallana made no mistake and is the most likely of the trio to go to Brazil. But none of them would look out of place there.
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