It was a truly ugly game between Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur at Ewood Park today, but Tottenham managed to secure three points in their quest to return to the top four and Champions League football. Spurs got a brace from Dutch attacking midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart and now move into fifth place with a game in hand over the top four.
The first half was sloppy from both teams and featured some suspect defending. Both keepers were forced to make nice saves on several occasions and Spurs, despite having the better of possession for much of the first 45 minutes, might have felt a bit lucky to go into the dressing rooms level.
Spurs looked a bit lackluster to start the match, but that all changed int he 15th minute when Rafael Van der Vaart netted the opener yet again for Tottenham following a brilliant run from Kyle Walker. The young right back burst down the right flank beating his man into the box before cutting the ball back to Van der Vaart who calmly slotted home from 12 yards out.
Following the goal Spurs turned up the pressure, particularly down Blackburn's right flank. Gareth Bale had a lot of success running at right back Jason Lowe and got some excellent balls into the box, once almost forcing an own goal by Rovers that was denied by a great save by former Spurs keeper Paul Robinson.
Some sloppy defending allowed Blackburn to equalize. Mauro Formica scored an excellent volley from in close after Younes Kabol was beaten in the air by Christopher Samba. In the resulting scramble for the ball Formica managed to smash it into the top corner and Brad Friedel could do nothing to save it. Blackburn continued to put the Spurs net under pressure with the best opportunity coming near the end of the half as Samba headed just wide from another set piece.
Tottenham started the second half brightly applying pressure to Paul Robinson's goal early. In the 52nd minute another nice run from a Tottenham fullback set up a goal for Spurs. This time it was Benoit Assou-Ekotto cutting inside from his left back position before laying the ball off to Van der Vaart who then blasted the ball into the top corner to put Spurs ahead.
The game began to open up a bit more after that. Blackburn again threatened from a set piece and then Rovers had shouts for a penalty denied. Seconds later at the opposite end of the pitch Scott Parker missed an excellent opportunity to pick out Van der Vaart. Just past the hour mark Samba again forced Friedel into a save from a set piece, as the big defender beat both Kaboul and Bassong in the air.
It started to get a little nervy for Tottenham Hotspur once David Hoillet switched to his preferred right side. He provided much more of a threat from that side and with Blackburn having brought on Yakubu to replace the goalscorer Formica the Canadian/Jamaican/English winger had a lot more to aim for. Rovers continued to threaten from crosses and set pieces and Tottenham looked almost certain to concede at several points.
The final 20 minutes were exceptionally sloppy from Tottenham. The defending was poor, the passing was even worse, and for a team known for its swashbuckling attacking runs Spurs managed very little in the way of attacking pressure. However, Spurs somehow escaped without capitulating thanks largely to the performance of Brad Friedel.