Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas desperate for Arsenal to slip up in race for top-four

Spurs need their rival to drop points

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas believes his side still stand every chance of claiming a place in next season's UEFA Champions League after their dramatic late 2-1 win over 10-man Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

Emmanuel Adebayor struck three minutes from time to snatch the three points that lifted Spurs above north London rivals Arsenal, who play their game in hand at home to relegation-haunted Wigan on Tuesday.

Until Adebayor's late effort it seemed like the visitors' efforts would prove in vain as they failed to make the most of a dominant passage of play following Charlie Adam's dismissal in the 47th minute.

But Villas-Boas is now sure to lead his side into next week's season-ending clash with Sunderland still in with a shout of a fourth-placed finish, and he praised his side for their patience.

Villas-Boas said: "We wanted to take it to the last day when we are playing at home, so it was an extremely important win for us for those reasons, and hopefully someone else will slip up.

"I am extremely happy for the team in the way we were patient in the game, we kept the ball moving and eventually we got the breakthrough."

Spurs had to strike back from the shock of falling behind after just three minutes when Steven Nzonzi headed an Adam free-kick past Hugo Lloris.

Gareth Bale fired wide as the visitors gradually stirred, before Clint Dempsey equalised in the 20th minute following a superb piece of improvisation.

Stoke defender Marc Wilson and keeper Asmir Begovic got in a muddle over a cross-field ball by Scott Parker, Wilson clearing the ball to Dempsey who responded by lobbing it straight back over the stranded Begovic from 30 yards.

Stoke had further chances through Adam and Peter Crouch but the game swung two minutes after the restart when Adam was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis insisted the decision by referee Kevin Friend ruined the game, saying: "I don't think Charlie has touched (Jan) Vertonghen on the first one and on the second one he's made a mistake by sliding in but again I don't think he touches him.

"It's disappointing because I watch football day in, day out and you see some challenges that don't even get bookings, then you see two challenges like that one today getting a sending-off.

"What disappoints me is there was a full house here for a great day to watch a really good game of football and it has just been taken away from them. The game was then not a game."

Spurs dominated the rest of the game but looked set to be frustrated with Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross denying Bale and Tom Huddlestone in the box, then Begovic tipping an effort from Dempsey over the bar.

The impressive American finally made his presence felt again when he seized on a deflected clearance to prod the ball back across the six-yard box where Adebayor was waiting to convert the simplest of chances.

Villas-Boas added: "He (Dempsey) has been absolutely immense this season with his assisting and his goalscoring and he has sometimes not got the credit he deserves.

"He is a hard worker and a very complete athlete and he had an amazing game. It was an extremely good individual performance."

PA

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