Pavlyuchenko paves Spurs path with goals
Tottenham Hotspurs 3 Blackburn Rovers 1
Sunday 14 March 2010
The Russian who came in from the cold is certainly enjoying Tottenham's warm embrace now. Eight goals in six games for Roman Pavlyuchenko might not see him finish the season as the club's top scorer – that will be Jermain Defoe, who added to his tally here as well – but much more of this and he might well remain a Tottenham player next season. In any case, Pavlyuchenko's two goals strengthened Spurs's grip on fourth place and the last Champions' League qualifying position, but with more composure he could have matched Defoe's achievement this season of scoring five in a game.
His conversion from an expensive misfit to someone forcing Robbie Keane to go to Celtic and relegating Peter Crouch to the bench has been impressive. For those who saw him for his previous club, Zenit St Petersburg, and at Euro 2008, after which Spurs bought him, he is merely showing the form Harry Redknapp and everyone else always expected.
Redknapp, the Spurs manager, said: "Pavlyuchenko is a terrific finisher. The transfer window came and went and he realised he wasn't going back to Russia. He was wanting that, the way he was playing and training, but we didn't want to sell him.
"He's got his chance and given me a nice problem. The form he's in gives us every chance of fourth. He's working harder."
However, as much as Pavlyuchenko gave Redknapp joy, the referee, Howard Webb, gave him – and Sam Allardyce – nothing but anguish. Webb, who will be England's referee at the World Cup, denied both sides clear claims on penalties and then ruled out a "goal" by Niko Kalinic in the last minute for a very dubious handball.
Redknapp said: "I never seem to have any luck with Howard Webb – I had his first game when I was at Portsmouth and he sent off Svetoslav Todorov, who wouldn't hurt a fly – and then against Manchester United and Chelsea last season. I never get him on a good day. He must have good days."
Allardyce also felt aggrieved. Vedran Corluka got away with barging over David Dunn in the penalty area with the game goalless, which Allardyce thought was a game-changing decision. Webb balanced things out when Michel Salgado tripped Gareth Bale and he turned a blind eye to that, too.
In the first half, Pavlyuchenko missed two chances before Defoe gave Spurs the lead. Corluka headed on Niko Kranjcar's corner, and the striker wandered free of Pascal Chimbonda to poke in his 22nd goal of the season.
The second goal came on the counterattack in a move begun by Luka Modric before Defoe found his Russian team-mate, although his shot should not have sneaked under Jason Brown's body. The goalkeeper had come on as a substitute for Paul Robinson, who tore a calf muscle.
Spurs were not assured an easy finale, as Chris Samba headed in from Morten Gamst Pedersen's corner before Rovers again showed their weakness under pressure. They failed to clear their lines, Chimbonda went AWOL and Pavlyuchenko tapped in.
While that confirmed the result and put Spurs three points clear of Manchester City, their closest rivals for fourth place, it was not the end of Webb's poor afternoon, as he denied Kalinic's effort. Spurs play Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United next month, and if Webb continues to give decisions like that in his favour, Redknapp might actually want the official at more of his games.
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Modric
Match rating: 6/10
Latest in Sport
David De Gea to Real Madrid: Manchester United goalkeeper spotted arriving at Madrid airport
Angel Di Maria to Bayern Munich: Manchester United to make £24m loss as club want '£35m' for Argentina flop
Wimbledon 2015: Dustin Brown knocks Rafael Nadal out of the championship
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as a 'minute of bulls**t'
- 4 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 5 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives