Keane's classic finishing sets striking riddle for Jol

Charlton Athletic 2

Tottenham Hotspur 3
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The Independent Online

Jol speaks in riddles. No, Keane is not a supersub, a modern-day equivalent of the original holder of that title, David Fairclough. Yes, he will benefit from two games for the Republic of Ireland over the next 10 days, come back with improved match fitness. But there are no guarantees.

Jol has made it clear that Keane and Defoe do not go together as an attacking partnership. "If they both play with Mido, one has to be on the left. But they all come to me and say they want be in the middle. It's a nice problem to have, keeping them happy."

For 50 minutes on Saturday, he had other problems to contend with. At that stage Tottenham seemed destined to lose their first Premiership away match of the season to Charlton, who had out-thought them and often out-fought them. Yet Tottenham are a sterner proposition these days and Charlton were left to rue lapses in concentration.

"It's one of the things we've got to work on," their manager, Alan Curbishley, said. "If we could have held on to our two-goal lead for a few minutes longer, I think we would have got the result we deserved.

"Anyone who was here today will have seen how we have got ourselves a good start," he claimed. "But that confidence has also caused problems. We are losing the ball in dangerous areas because of their eagerness to do well."

It took Charlton 15 minutes to get going and, in danger of being overrun, they began to bypass midfield, longer passes having an unsettling effect on Tottenham's defence. The approach worked so well that Spurs were caught flat-footed, vainly appealing for offside as Danny Murphy's exquisite through ball found Darren Bent sprinting through the middle to beat Paul Robinson.

Three minutes after the restart, Jerome Thomas threaded a pass of perfect weight through the Tottenham defence and Bent gave successful chase, taking too much time for Curbishley's liking, but finally shifting the ball on to his right foot and curling it past Robinson.

That seemed to be the decisive blow, but much to Curbishley's disappointment Charlton slipped back into their old careless ways. "We needed to get ourselves together at that point, settle down," he said. Instead, Charlton allowed Tottenham to come at them. Pedro Mendes floated in a free-kick that Mido jumped for but missed, the ball bouncing in off King's shins.

A fluke goal but one that transformed Tottenham, whose general play benefited from the introduction of Teemu Tainio. Competitive and clever, signed in the summer on a free transfer, it was the Finn's cute reverse pass after Charlton sloppily lost possession outside their penalty area that led to Tottenham's equaliser. The ball found Mido completely free. With one touch the Egyptian collected the ball, with a second he blasted it into the far corner.

Tottenham introduced Keane, boldly going for three points. With Bent going off after a collision Paul Stalteri, Aaron Lennon dispossessed Chris Powell and found Keane. The perfect one-two with Defoe, the fulminating finish. Tottenham had the points.

"After all the talk of negative football, empty seats, this game had everything you want to see," Curbishley said. "A full house, lots of goals, different formations, different conditions. What more do you want?" Except that Curbishley had to take it on the chin in a game that could be the making of Tottenham's season.

Goals: Bent (25) 1-0; Bent (48) 2-0; King (51) 2-1; Mido (64) 2-2; Keane (80) 2-3.

Charlton Athletic (4-5-1): Andersen; Young, El Karkouri, Perry, Powell; Rommedahl, Murphy, Smertin, Kishishev (Spector, 85), Thomas (Hughes, 79); Bent (Bartlett, 71). Substitutes not used: Myhre (gk), Sorondo.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Naybet, King, Kelly; Lennon, Jenas (Keane, 64), Mendes (Tainio, 58), Davids; Mido (Dawson, 82), Defoe.Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Rasiak.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Charlton Athletic Kishishev, Young, Murphy; Tottenham Hotspur Defoe, Mendes.

Man of the match: Bent.

Attendance: 27,111.

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