Davids hardens new Spurs resolve

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Middlesbrough 0

"It is how we must play," Jol said, following this victory. "Look at Chelsea. They are very good tactically and technically, but they fight for every ball."

The visit of Chelsea to White Hart Lane next week will provide Tottenham with an opportunity to prove that they are moving in the right direction, but for the moment the signs are good; maximum points from two games and no goals conceded. However, when Jol was asked to consider the fact that Tottenham had moved to the top of the embryonic Premiership table, he shrugged.

"At this stage it does not mean very much," he said. "Some of the things we did today were very good, some not so good. There is plenty of room for improvement."

The talk before the match was mostly about Davids' eagerly awaited debut and he did not disappoint, upending Ray Parlour in the opening minutes, almost connecting with an ambitious overhead scoring attempt and gradually forming a solid partnership in midfield with Michael Carrick.

It was not perfect by any means. When to hold, when to go - these are things that will have to be sorted. Nevertheless, if Davids can maintain his fitness and zest for the game Tottenham can think about a productive season.

Despite the absence of Ledley King, Wayne Routledge - whose injury has been diagnosed as long-term - Noé Pamarot, Sean Davis and Michael Brown, there is now enough strength in depth at Tottenham to remove a sense of papering over the cracks when key players are absent. Even without their captain, King, they were able to pair an England centre-half of the recent past, Anthony Gardner, with one of the future, Michael Dawson, who came through the test well when Middlesbrough brought on Mark Viduka for the second half.

Middlesbrough too were below strength, with Ugo Ehiogu, Chris Riggott, Stuart Parnaby and new signing Emanuel Pogatetz unavailable, but it took a stunning strike from Jermain Defoe, an embarrassing error by Mark Schwarzer and two acrobatic saves by the England goalkeeper Paul Robinson to prevent them from taking anything from the game.

If only, Middlesbrough's manager lamented, Jol had emulated Sven Goran Eriksson in midweek and withdrawn Defoe and Robinson after 45 minutes. For it was Defoe, proving to the watching Eriksson what he can do when given more than a half, who opened the way and Robinson who kept Middlesbrough out.

"I wish Sven had given them 90 minutes and run them afterwards," said Steve McClaren, Eriksson's chief assistant, smiling wryly after a desperate afternoon. "Welcome back to the football season, where sometimes you don't get what you deserve. I feel very aggrieved."

With most of the action confined to midfield, both teams concentrating on trying to find a route to goal with long passes, the first half was unremarkable, Middlesbrough struggling to rise above the ordinary. This led to a double substitution at half-time, with James Morrison replacing Gaizka Mendieta, who had been invisible, and Viduka Aiyegbeni Yakubu. It immediately threatened to transform the game, but Tottenham took the lead four minutes into the half.

When a Middlesbrough attack foundered close to Tottenham's penalty area the ball was switched to Teemu Tainio, who supplied Defoe in the centre circle. Defoe sprinted past Gareth Southgate before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yarder that flew high past Schwarzer. It was a goal of the highest class and just what the game needed, although Defoe should have been closed down before getting a sight of Middlesbrough's goal.

Middlesbrough would have been level within five minutes, from similar range, but for the first outstanding save from Robinson, who flew low to his left to keep out a wickedly curling Stewart Downing free-kick.

Viduka, who is being eased back after injury, was soon employing his ability to hold up the ball, and played George Boateng in for a shot that went close from the right side of Robinson's six-yard box. Middlesbrough stepped up the pressure and Davids was booked for a foul on Morrison during a spell which ended with Downing shooting wastefully over from close range.

McClaren gambled in the 73rd minute, sending on Doriva for the debutant Matthew Bates and going to a back line of three. Unfortunately for Middlesbrough, before the move could have any effect on the revival they conceded a second goal in embarrassing fashion when Schwarzer let Mido's long shot squeeze beneath him.

With six minutes left Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink would have pulled a goal back but for Robinson's second excellent save.

Goals: Defoe (49) 1-0; Mido (75) 2-0.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, Gardner, Edman; Tainio, Carrick, Davids, Reid; Mido, Defoe (Keane, 76). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Naybet, Mendes, Lennon.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Reiziger, Bates (Doriva,73) Southgate, Queudrue; Mendieta (Morrison, h-t), Parlour, Boateng, Downing; Yakubu (Viduka, h-t), Hasselbaink. Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Wheater.

Referee: M Atkinson (West Yorkshire).

Booked: Tottenham Davids; Middlesbrough Hasselbaink.

Man of the match: Carrick.

Attendance: 35,884.

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