Neill dismissed as Tottenham's winning start grinds to a halt

Blackburn Rovers 0 Tottenham Hotspur 0
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The Independent Online

Not for the first time this season, Blackburn left the field with 10 players as Tottenham's winning start to the Premiership season ground to a stop at Ewood Park. Lucas Neill, was dismissed for two bookings, the second Blackburn player to be sent off in three matches. It marred an impressive display by Mark Hughes' side who dominated from start to finish.

After years of disappointment for Spurs, the last few days have seen a brief stint at the Premiership summit and the arrival of Edgar Davids, creating a wave of optimism around White Hart Lane and inspiring more than 3,000 to make the trek north in the hope of seeing their side return to the top of the table.

With one eye on Saturday's London derby with Chelsea, Martin Jol made three changes with Davids, Jermain Defoe and Michael Carrick on the bench. Robbie Keane made his 100th League start for the club but was a spectator during a first half that saw Tottenham camped inside their own half.

Morten Gamst Pedersen, Blackburn's Norwegian midfielder, proved the driving force behind his side's best moments. He was unfortunate not to score from a free-kick after Michael Brown marked his first start this season by conceding a needless free-kick on the Blackburn No 12.

This was proving to be Paul Robinson's busiest shift of the season so far. Moments later the Tottenham keeper was breathing another sigh of relief as Steven Reid sent a rasping 20-yard volley whistling past his post after being teed up by the busy Pedersen. On this evidence it was hard to see why Tottenham had come to ride so high in the table.

Not for the first time, in the 37th minute their defence went missing as Pedersen neatly turned his marker before slipping a delightful pass through the middle to Shefki Kuqi whose finish failed to match the quality of the build-up.

In a desperate attempt to stem the tidal wave of Blackburn pressure, Jol decided to introduce Davids to the action. Yet the Dutchman only succeeded in finding his way into Dermot Gallagher's notebook within five minutes of joining the action after a foul on Brett Emerton.

Blackburn continued to probe the Tottenham defence. Kuqi again should have done better after more good work from Pedersen in the 54th minute but headed tamely at Robinson from close range.

Unsurprisingly, Robbie Savage was also booked after a cynical challenge on Teemu Tainio in the 56th minute. It was the Blackburn midfielder's third caution of the campaign.

Blackburn's hopes of a victory vanished 15 minutes from time when Neill, booked in the first half for tripping Keane, was given his marching orders for a foul on Davids.

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Friedel; Neill, Todd (Mokoena, 81), Nelsen, Matteo; Tugay, Emerton, Savage, Reid, Pedersen; Kuqi (Johnson, 87). Substitutes not used: Enckelman (gk), Gresko, Jansen.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Robinson; Stalteri, Dawson, Gardner, Edman; Tainio, Brown, Mendes (Defoe, 81), Reid; Mido (Davids, 53), Keane. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Naybet, Carrick.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxon).

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