Defoe sparkles as Spurs expose Hull's frailties
Hull City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 5
Harry Redknapp was full of praise for Jermain Defoe after watching the Tottenham Hotspur striker destroy Hull City with a stunning hat-trick and clinical display of finishing at the KC Stadium to help his side climb to the top of the Premier League.
Defoe scored twice before the interval and again in stoppage time as Tottenham strolled to a comfortable victory. Further goals from Wilson Palacios and Robbie Keane increased the pain for hapless Hull to leave their manager Phil Brown fully aware of the size of the challenge facing him and his players once again this season.
The evening belonged to Defoe, however, and Redknapp was quick to recognise the immense contribution of a player he took back to White Hart Lane last season before going to work on polishing him into someone who is rapidly becoming the most accomplished centre forward in the country, as his performance for England against the Netherlands last week had also demonstrated.
Redknapp, who brought Defoe back from Portsmouth last season in a move that now appears to be inspired, said: "It was a terrific exhibition of attacking football.
"We had movement, passing and pace. We took it to them and looked dangerous every time we went forward. Defoe looked unplayable. His form is electric at the moment. He's bang in form at the moment and looks as strong as I've ever seen him. He looks a much stronger boy now. He's done a lot of work in the gym this summer and it's made him more explosive. He's in unbelievable form. If he keeps playing like that then he won't have any problems."
Redknapp's side find themselves top of the Premier League after two matches but he is refusing to get carried away and could be without the goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes for several weeks with a torn thigh muscle. The manager added: "I don't know about Gomes – we'll have to have a look at him but he could be out for a while."
Defoe opened the scoring with a precision finish after 10 minutes. George Boateng conceded possession, allowing Tom Huddlestone to feed the England striker and he twisted inside Michael Turner before burying a low shot beyond Boaz Myhill.
Hull's defending was hopeless though and invited trouble. Palacios added a second following more poor marking and even though Stephen Hunt pulled one back for the home side when his free-kick from the right wing somehow travelled through a crowded goalmouth and nestled in the bottom corner, the outcome was never in doubt. Michael Turner's mistake allowed Defoe to make it 3-1 on the cusp of half-time and Keane added a fourth after the interval with a glancing header from Aaron Lennon's quicksilver break and neat cross.
It could have been worse for Hull but for the profligacy of Keane, who wasted two first-half chances and failed to find the simplest of passes to supply Defoe. The England forward's hat-trick was completed in stoppage time with a thumping finish to outline the startling difference in quality between the sides.
Brown was generous about his opponents. "That's one of the best performances I've seen," he said. "It was incredible. Spurs were fantastic and for the neutral it must have been wonderful to watch. It wasn't for me, though." His disappointment was made even worse by the news that Real Madrid centre-forward Alvaro Negredo has rejected a move to Hull in favour of joining Seville instead and Brown added: "I'm disappointed because the lad has chosen to go elsewhere. We put a lot of time and effort into signing him but these things happen in football and we will just have to move on."
Unless Brown finds new additions to his squad soon, now that he has lost his influential captain Ian Ashbee for the season with a knee ligament injury, he is unlikely to be taking the microphone for a repeat of that excruciating singalong with the Hull supporters at the end of the season. Redknapp might want to think about singing lessons though, because he might have a few more reasons to be cheerful on the evidence of this.
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill (player rating: 4/10); Mouyokolo (3) (Barmby (5), h-t), Turner (4), Gardner (5), Dawson (5); Mendy (4), Boateng (5) (Ghilas (5), 69), Olofinjana (6), Hunt (7); Folan (4), Cousin (3) (Geovanni (4), 22). Substitutes not used: Duke, Halmosi, Kilbane, Zayatte.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes (4) (Cudicini (6), 16), Hutton (6), Corluka (6), Bassong (7), Assou-Ekotto (6); Lennon (6), Palacios (7), Huddlestone (7), Modric (8) (Bentley, 85); Keane (7) (Crouch, 81), Defoe (9). Substitutes not used: Pavlyuchenko, Naughton, Chimbonda, O'Hara.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Bookings: Hull Turner, Hunt, Folan; Spurs Hutton, Keane.
Man of the match: Defoe.
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