Such is the paucity of Tottenham on their travels this season that Martin Jol now finds dismissals easier to come by than three points. The Dutchman claimed to have been expelled for the first time in his managerial career at Ewood Park last night as Spurs' winless streak outside White Hart Lane stretched to a seventh game and, given their failure to impress against a Blackburn team harshly reduced to 10 men for the final half hour, he may not hurry back.
On a cold Lancashire evening heated by controversy and a stunning opening goal from Tugay, the referee Phil Dowd ensured the wrath of both managers when he sent Jol to the stands for disputing the injury-time red card shown to Hossam Ghaly for catching Michael Gray in the face with a flailing arm.
Though Tottenham plan to appeal against the sending-off, it was the penalty that led to the 61st-minute expulsion of the Blackburn goalscorer that had the greater influence on the outcome. It broke Rovers' dominant momentum if not their resolve as they looked the more likely victors even when diminished - and the late flurry of dismissals, mêlées and grievances were merely a distraction that Jol duly seized upon after another subdued away display.
"Hossam jumped in the air and it was a bit strange, but he never used his elbow and the referee misjudged it," said Jol. "The referee reacted to the crowd. I wasn't abusive towards him, not at the time anyway, but he gave me the first red card in my career as a coach."
Doubt was last night cast on Jol's version of events by a Premier League spokesman who insisted that the Dutchman had not been dismissed but simply asked to step back after confronting the official.
It was Jol's Blackburn counterpart, Mark Hughes, who was left nursing the greater sense of injustice, however, his side conceding a seventh penalty this season, denied another when Mido appeared to handle in the area and having the heart and head of their performance, Tugay, subject to a draconian punishment that deprived them of the chance of a first win in five Premiership games.
Perhaps a fall was inevitable for the former Turkish international given the heights he had touched previously. Singled out for praise by Sir Alex Ferguson following Manchester United's slender win here last weekend, the midfielder struck a volley worthy of any stadium or age in the 23rd minute to compound the obvious anxiety in a Tottenham team with only two points from six away games prior to last night.
Though Ledley King had appeared to clear the danger caused by a right-wing cross from the impressive left-back Gray, Tottenham, and to be fair most of the crowd, had reckoned without Tugay's immaculate right foot. From 25 yards, and full on the volley, he returned the headed clearance with an unstoppable finish beyond the England No 1 Paul Robinson and, with his previous two goals similarly audacious attempts against Basle in the Uefa Cup and Fulham last season, completed a hat-trick to befit his gilded talents. It served to make what followed all the more galling.
Only Jermain Defoe carried any menace for the visitors, a threat that justified the Tottenham jeers when he was replaced by Dimitar Berbatov late on, and yet he was only a peripheral figure in the equaliser that had appeared beyond his side even though he scored it.
On the hour mark, and with Spurs' distribution improved immeasurably, a searching pass from Lee Young-Pyo found Ghaly who deftly lifted the ball over Tugay and was then sent sprawling by the Turk's trailing leg. There was little argument over the penalty, confidently despatched into the bottom corner by the England striker, but Dowd's decision to dismiss the game's most influential performer for operating as the last defender ensured emotions clouded every second of the final half hour.
"It was a genuine attempt by Tugay to get across the guy, and there was no intent whatsoever," said Hughes. "Three minutes after that Mido clearly handled in the area, and has admitted as much to our players as well. All you ask is that referees get the big decisions right but that is the third or fourth time this season when they have called the big decisions wrong against us. Mr Dowd didn't have the best of games to say the least. If he was being honest he'll say he had a shocker."
Goals: Tugay (23) 1-0; Defoe pen (60) 1-1.
Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Friedel; Emerton, Ooijer, Henchoz, Gray; Bentley (Peter, 85), Savage, Tugay, Pedersen; McCarthy (Jeffers, 87), Nonda (Mokoena, 65). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), McEveley.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Lee, Dawson, King, Assou-Ekotto; Ghaly, Huddlestone, Zokora, Davids (Malbranque, h-t); Defoe (Berbatov, 83), Mido. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Keane, Murphy.
Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).
Booked: Tottenham Mido.
Sent off: Blackburn Tugay (60); Tottenham Ghaly (90).
Man of the match: Gray.
Attendance: 18,083.Reuse content