Superb Norwich mock Tottenham's Champions League pretensions

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Norwich City 2

White Hart Lane

Tottenham Hotspur's stumble continued yesterday. Looking vaguely complacent, they were hit by a Norwich City performance of remarkable commitment and energy, and were well beaten.

Now drifting away from Arsenal, and ahead of Newcastle United only on goal difference, Tottenham are in a desperate scrap to avoid playing Europa League football next season. And, having won only one of their last eight league games, they have found the worst possible time to run out of ideas.

With expectations reconsidered, Redknapp conceded afterwards that the focus is now on beating Chelsea – who drew at Fulham last night – and in-form Newcastle to fourth. "We'd settle for finishing there," he said afterwards. "It would be lovely to finish above Arsenal but it's still all to play for." It spoke of a confidence downgrade; six weeks ago Spurs were 10 points clear of Arsenal, six weeks before that they were within two points of the Manchester sides.

 

Only United and City had won here before yesterday, and even then United came and played on the break. No side, certainly, had made Tottenham look quite as flat and limp at home. But yesterday Spurs struggled to control a game against constant swarms of Norwich pressure. With Scott Parker out with a hamstring injury, and Rafael van der Vaart on the bench, Redknapp returned to the 4-4-2 system he had recently switched for 4-2-3-1. With one man fewer in central midfield, Spurs could not dictate play as they like to.

"I felt it leaves us a little bit open," Redknapp said of his decision to revert to 4-4-2. "I think we've looked stronger recently at 4-3-3 but I thought I'd give it a go today. We get hold of the ball more when we play 4-3-3. Today was too open, from our point of view, really."

Without that aura that long spells of possession at home can bring, Spurs had to compete with Norwich as equals. And, on those terms, they were routed. Paul Lambert also played 4-4-2 but was able to summon so much more running, more fight and more spirit from his players.

There was no question whether Norwich deserved to win. "It was the best performance in the three years I've been here," Lambert said afterwards. "That's the magnitude of it , I thought we were brilliant right from the off." In those three years Norwich have been promoted twice. They now have as many Premier League points as Liverpool.

And, on a fairer day, Norwich would have been awarded two penalties by Michael Oliver. A first-half tackle by Ledley King on Grant Holt, which Lambert said "would not have looked out of place at Murrayfield", and a second-half push on Aaron Wilbraham by Emmanuel Adebayor ought to have gone in Norwich's favour.

It was clear from the start that the Spurs defence was uncomfortable with Norwich's physical threat. "We couldn't handle them," Redknapp admitted afterwards. "They worked their socks off." A direct run inside from Anthony Pilkington brought the first goal, as he beat Younes Kaboul and King before Kyle Walker's hurried clearance broke back to him, presenting a simple finish.

Norwich might have had a second had Holt, who bested King for most of the game, been awarded a penalty. Lambert's rage increased when Spurs swiftly broke, Jake Livermore's pass finding Defoe who chipped the ball delightfully over John Ruddy.

Tottenham had their best spell at the start of the second half, with Benoît Assou-Ekotto having a close-range shot saved and Gareth Bale hitting the bar. But Norwich were relentless, mining reserves of energy clearly inaccessible to Spurs. An excellent passing move ended with Elliott Bennett thundering the ball into the far corner from the edge of the area.

Bennett, like Pilkington, was signed from League One last summer. "They haven't even played Championship football," Lambert said of the goal-scoring pair. "I'm as proud as anything of them, and every one of them."

Match facts

Spurs: FRIEDEL 5/10, WALKER 6, KING 4, KABOUL 5, ASSOU EKOTTO 5, LENNON 5, LIVERMORE 5, MODRIC 5, BALE 6, SAHA 4, DEFOE 6

Norwich: RUDDY 8, DRURY 7, WARD 7, R BENNETT 8, R MARTIN 7, PILKINGTON 9, HOWSON 7, JOHNSON 8, E BENNETT 8, HOLT 7, WILBRAHAM 7

Scorers: Spurs: Defoe 33. Norwich: Pilkington 13, Bennett 66.

Substitutes: Tottenham Nelsen 5 (Kaboul, 44), Adebayor 5 (Saha, 46), Van der Vaart (Livermore, 71). Norwich Morison (Holt, 69), Jackson (Wilbraham, 79).

Booked: Tottenham Walker. Norwich Johnson , E Bennett.

Man of the match Pilkington. Match rating 9/10.

Possession: Tottenham 50% Norwich 50%.

Attempts on target: Tottenham 9 Norwich 6.

Referee M Oliver (Northumberland). Attendance 36,126.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?