| Tottenham Hotspur’s Robbie Keane (top) battles for the ball with West Ham United’s Nigel Winterburn at White Hart Lane on Sunday. (AP/PTI)
London: Anthony Gardner was the unlikely hero as Tottenham Hotspur went second in the Premier League with a seesaw 3-2 victory over bottom club West Ham United Sunday.
The leggy defender drove in a deflected winner, his first goal for Spurs, with a minute left at White Hart Lane to snatch victory against a West Ham side which recovered from 0-1 and 1-2 down to equalise despite having defender Ian Pearce sent off.
In Sunday’s other game, 10-man Manchester City fought back from two goals down with 10 minutes left to draw 2-2 with Blackburn Rovers in a thrilling encounter at Maine Road. Spurs’ win lifted their points tally to 13 from six games, one less than Arsenal who beat Charlton Athletic 3-0 Saturday.
Tottenham manager Glenn Hoddle was relieved after his side, which threw away a 0-2 lead to lose 2-3 at Fulham Wednesday, eventually secured their victory.
“We made hard work of it,” Hoddle said. “We had to churn out the victory. This time we held out but we’ve got to do some work on trying to close games out.”
Striker Robbie Keane made his debut for Spurs but he, like the rest of his team, had a first half to forget. The game exploded into life after Simon Davies calmly swept home a fine Matthew Etherington cross after 62 minutes.
Frederic Kanoute levelled for West Ham four minutes later and then Keane fooled Pearce with some lovely skill to win a penalty. Pearce was sent off and Teddy Sheringham whacked in the spot-kick to make it 2-1 with 19 minutes left.
West Ham bravely equalised again when Trevor Sinclair diverted in Paolo Di Canio’s free-kick with Spurs’ defence asleep but the 20-year-old Gardner saved the home side’s blushes when he hammered a deflected shot into the net from 20 metres.
There was similar drama at Maine Road. Blackburn led 2-0 through David Thompson and Andy Cole before City’s Danny Tiatto was sent off for a dangerous tackle. The home side looked to be finished but goals by Nicolas Anelka, after 80 minutes, and substitute Shaun Goater in the dying seconds salvaged an unlikely point.
Manager Kevin Keegan said Tiatto’s sending-off, for an ugly two-footed challenge on Thompson five minutes after he came on as a substitute, had paradoxically helped his team.
“That incident changed the game. The players responded. We came back from the dead really,” Keegan said. But the City boss said he had told Australian Tiatto that his tackle was “unacceptable”, adding: “We should fine him as much as we can. He didn’t help us at all.”
Blackburn Rovers manager Graeme Souness was left fuming and pinned the blame for two City goals on his striker Dwight Yorke and midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu. “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated as three points have escaped us. I am so cheesed off I can’t tell you,” Souness said.
“Dwight not running back for the free-kick (that led to City’s first goal), I blame him for that. For the second, Tugay’s been one-twoed (beaten) for the second time in the space of two or three minutes.” (Reuters)