Bent tears Dinamo to shreds

Tottenham 4 Dinamo Zagreb 0

A Darren Bent hat-trick, an imperious display from Tom Huddlestone and a quicksilver performance from the Croat Luka Modric against his former club. The misfits of the Ramos regime are all falling into place under Harry Redknapp.

It is not quite alchemy – no one would doubt the talents of the trio although at £16.5m Bent's may have been heftily overblown – but there is certainly a touch of sorcery about the new man's stewardship. And to think they used to call Juande Magic.

The evening was marred by a series of incidents involving the Dinamo Zagreb fans. At first vociferous and passionate, they, with a flurry of flares, and some scuffles involving stewards, over-stepped the mark and turned the atmosphere ugly. Five arrests were made in the ground and they were involved in a number of scuffles with police on the Tottenham High Road after the game that resulted in several shops being damaged.

Nevertheless, the resounding victory eased Spurs, after their defeat at Udinese that was Ramos's last match in charge, back into comfortable contention to progress from Group D of this season's Uefa Cup. One more victory and they will go through.

Redknapp even managed to hand a debut to John Bostock, all 16 years and 295 days of him, making the midfielder, whose controversial transfer still rankles at Crystal Palace, Spurs' youngest-ever player. He almost scored, too, with a drive from fully 30 yards that whistled narrowly wide. But that would have been too much, surely, even for Harry on his current run.

"It's confidence," Redknapp said. "Winning is good. We will have bad days but we've made a good start, a terrific 10 days and I want to keep this run going and get us off the bottom of the league table."

That is clearly the priority for, despite that start, Spurs are still bottom. Redknapp has said all the right things about the importance of Europe but it matters not a jot in the face of Premier League safety. Play Ledley King in this competition? Not a chance. Redknapp is ring-fencing him for more important fights.

But winning is a habit, as is scoring, and Bent, so maligned, so indifferent, so apparently surplus when Berbatov, Keane and Defoe were flying, is suddenly, inadvertently, the main man. He has nine goals this season and is, finally, flying.

It was the maligned trio who combined for the opening goal – along with another who has struggled, David Bentley. His neat flick sent Modric skipping down the left, a cross was missed by Huddlestone but it distracted the defenders enough for the ball to run to Bent who steadied himself with one touch before driving a shot which deflected off the former Liverpool player Igor Biscan, as he threw himself in an attempt to block, and spun over goalkeeper Ivan Kelava and into the net.

Within three minutes it was two. And again the same players were involved. This time, after Modric's run down the right, Bentley diverted a clearance to Huddlestone who, on the area's edge, shaped to shoot but, smartly, slid a pass to Bent who, free on goal, easily beat Kelava.

"This is the first time I've worked with Darren," said Redknapp. "He has a good attitude and works hard. It's a terrific return getting nine goals and hopefully he can keep going. There's competition for places up front."

Spurs were now clicking through the gears and, next, a training-ground routine came off, a sure sign of confidence coursing, with Bentley angling a corner to Huddlestone who struck a sweet, low volley from 25 yards that cracked past a shocked Kelava.

On they came. Huddlestone, playing in the more advanced role he craved, showing his passing range and ability, again won the ball, surged forward and neatly found Bent who took the pass in his stride and slid the ball into the net.

It was his first hat-trick for Spurs, his first for five years, in fact, and the first scored by a Tottenham player in Europe since Garth Crooks in October 1984 – when the club were the Uefa Cup holders. There is a long way to go, and far greater priorities and targets to be met, before that feat is repeated. But with Magic Harry there is at least another chance to dream.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Gomes; Hutton, Dawson, Woodgate (Gunter, 85), Bale; Bentley (Bostock, 79), Zokora, Huddlestone, Lennon; Modric (Campbell, 75); Bent. Substitutes not used: Cèsar (gk), Gilberto, Assou-Ekotto, Dervite.

Dinamo Zagreb (4-2-3-1): Kelava; Lovren, Biscan, Drpic (Etto, 46), Ibanez; Vrdoljak, Hrgovic; Mikic, Mandzukic, Sammir (Morales, 43); Balaban (Badelj, 60) . Substitutes not used: Loncaric (gk), Tomic, Tadic, Carlos.

Referee: F Fautrel (France).

Group D

Results: Dinamo Zagreb 3 NEC Nijmegen 2; Udinese 2 Tottenham 0; Spartak Moscow 1 Udinese 2; Tottenham 4 Dinamo Zagreb 0.

Tottenham's remaining group fixtures: 27 Nov: NEC Nijmegen (a); 18 Dec: Spartak Moscow (h).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor