Charlton find finished article in Johansson

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The Independent Football

Perhaps £3.25m sounds a lot for a Finn but Jonatan Johansson is wasting no time proving his worth for Charlton following his summer move from Rangers. Johansson's third goal in as many games came crucially six minutes before the interval and gave his side the boost they needed to survive a torrid second half of Tottenham pressure.

Perhaps £3.25m sounds a lot for a Finn but Jonatan Johansson is wasting no time proving his worth for Charlton following his summer move from Rangers. Johansson's third goal in as many games came crucially six minutes before the interval and gave his side the boost they needed to survive a torrid second half of Tottenham pressure.

The winning strike was a smartly worked effort. Charlton's bright 19-year-old Paul Konchesky, playing out of position at right-back, slid a pass into the area and Graham Stuart's dummy caught Tottenham cold, allowing Johansson to close in for a shot which went under Neil Sullivan's body.

The Spurs manager, George Graham, while paying full tribute to the skills of Charlton's goalkeeper Dean Kiely, making him man of the match, criticised his defence for the goal, claiming they were trying to spring the offside trap as Johansson went through. "It's too chancy to try that in a tight situation," he said. "My team should not do that."

He might have directed firmer criticism at his strikers, but opted not to. "We had enough chances in the second half but needed a goal," he added. "If we had got one we would probably have gone on to win. We definitely deserved something."

Nobody would dispute that claim. Even in the first half Tottenham dictated the flow of the match, with Mauricio Taricco in fine form down the left. If Sergei Rebrov is indisputably the most accomplished Spur, Taricco yesterday was by some distance the most committed.

Only eight minutes had been played when Kiely pulled off the first of his miracle saves, repelling Rebrov's snapshot with his legs. From the corner he denied Spurs again, a reflex save frustrating Steffen Iversen's first-time strike.

Graham insists that Charlton play at home as if they are the away side. "They let you have the ball and invite you to come at them. But, give them credit, they get lots of players behind the ball and show lots of spirit."

Perhaps so, but Charlton showed enough spirit in attack early on. Sullivan had to be alert to turn a John Robinson effort round the post. Then, as Claus Jensen's blocked shot spun to Andy Hunt in space, the striker should have done better than to give Sullivan the chance to save low to his left.

The best move of the match could have seen Spurs go in front after 33 minutes. Taricco started and finished it, prodding a pass to Oyvind Leonhardsen. The ball was moved on to Iversen and laid back for Taricco to hit a shot with his weaker right foot which struck the bar. Within minutes, Charlton had struck wood too, Robinson getting to the byline for a sharp effort which hit Sullivan's near upright.

Once in front, Charlton composed themselves for the counter-attack after the interval. "We expected Spurs to turn the heat up a little bit and they did," said Charlton's manager, Alan Curbishley.

Rebrov, always ready to pull the trigger, walloped one shot just too high. But the save which earned praise from Graham for Kiely came just short of the hour. Iversen's head got to a centre fractionally ahead of two red shirts, knocking the ball down to Ferdinand, whose response was swift and true, only for Kiely to block it somehow with his legs. "That save was fantastic," said Curbishley, "but I wouldn't say that is just why we got the result. We worked ever so hard."

His only criticism was that his defence lost composure under the relentless pressure which had home fans cheering throw-ins and the rare occasions their side managed to get over the halfway line. Kiely repelled another close-in Ferdinand effort, this time with the head, and so thrilling was the stop hardly anybody noticed the referee, Jeff Winter, had noted an offside and waved play on.

It was not until the closing stages, as Tottenham began to lose their own composure, that Mr Winter needed to reach for the yellow card, waving it in the faces of Taricco and Stephen Carr. In the final minutes, Charlton might even have added a second, Sullivan turning aside Robinson's low drive.

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