Dec 29, 2013, 12:53 PM EDT
Tottenham Hotspur worked immensely hard in the first half with just a penalty to show for it, but a pair of open play goals after the break ensured three points for Spurs from White Hart Lane.
Stoke’s midfield did their best to peg Spurs back with physicality and toughness, with Tim Sherwood having elected to play two strikers instead of the extra midfielder, but it was Tottenham who always looked on top.
Mark Hughes and Stoke City were content early to sit back and defend, knowing the history Spurs have this season in front of goal.
The home side’s finishing record came into question early, as Emmanuel Adebayor had a gaping opportunity to open the scoring.
Aaron Lennon sprinted down the right flank and found Adebayor in the box with a cross, but Adebayor slipped just slightly and he bungled the opportunity.
The story continued, as Paulinho brilliantly flicked on with a back-heel chip to Roberto Soldado just onsides, but the Spaniard ripped his low shot just wide on 15 minutes.
Stoke City nearly countered in the 29th minute with Oussama Assaidi, who cut through Spurs defenders in the box but a last-ditch challenge by Michael Dawson, and Stoke’s penalty shouts were waved off.
Replays show Stoke were hard done, as Dawson gets none of the ball and definitely brings down the Moroccan.
Spurs continued to attack at a rapid pace, and Soldado had a pair of chances with his head but he whiffed on the first cross from the right, and the follow-up from the left he headed just wide.
Finally, they were rewarded for their efforts as a Soldado cross found Adebayor, and the latter’s scissor-kick volley hit the outstretched arms of Ryan Shawcross in the box and referee Kevin Friend rightly awarded the penalty.
Soldado finished off the penalty by wrong-footing Thomas Sorensen for a 1-0 lead into halftime.
The Spaniard’s struggles from open play continued in the second half, as a chance in the 58th minute saw Soldado somehow miss with acres of space in the box on a cross from Lennon.
Finally, Spurs got something from open play to show for their efforts in the 65th minute, as Mousa Dembele took matters into his own hands and after a few cut-backs in the midfield rifled home a fabulous strike for Spurs’ second.
Aaron Lennon finished off the game four minutes later. Soldado found Lennon via the foot of Adebayor, and the winger curled his effort into the top corner to ensure the three points.
Despite the early penalty miss for Stoke, it’s a deserved win for Tottenham who owned 64% of possession and owned seven shots on target to Stoke’s zero.
The win pushes Spurs up past Newcastle, taking advantage of the Magpies’ loss to Arsenal earlier in the day. Stoke City remain on 21 points, in 12th position but with a tough schedule ahead they could be threatened by the relegation zone with similar results.
Tottenham – Soldado 37′ (pen); Dembele 65′; Lennon 69′
Tottenham – Lloris; Naughton, Dawson, Chiriches, Fryers; Lennon (Lamela 75′), Paulinho (Capoue 62′), Dembele, Eriksen; Adebayor, Soldado.
Stoke City – Sorensen; Wilkinson (Muniesa 81′), Shawcross, Cameron, Pieters; Walters, Palacios (Pennant 68′), Nzonzi, Ireland (Adam 50′), Assaidi; Crouch.
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