Van der Vaart drives another dagger into Blackburn's heart

Blackburn Rovers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

As he tries to soothe the pain of the heaviest defeat of his managerial career, Sir Alex Ferguson might consider that the last major team to be humiliated at home by Manchester City have recovered rather well. On 28 August, Tottenham were bottom of the Premier League having been taken apart 5-1.

But yesterday brought their fifth victory in half-a-dozen subsequent games and, but for a late Newcastle equaliser at St James' Park, all six would have been won.

This was perhaps the toughest victory of the lot, achieved against a Blackburn side that, however much their supporters wish the dismissal of their manager Steve Kean, resisted with more passion than many might have expected from a side who have picked up less than a point a game since he took over. Afterwards, fans in the newly renamed Ronnie Clayton End unveiled a banner that read: "Norway Wants Kean Out". Nothing is known of how Sweden and Finland feel about the Blackburn manager but, for Kean, the only country that matters is India.

This performance, if not the result, would have reinforced the view of the club's owners, Venky's, that Kean can still lift them clear of relegation.

"There is a manner in which you can lose and I think we lost trying to win," he said, although those who remained behind, people he professed not to care about, would have replied that all that mattered was Blackburn lost.

"I don't think the Blackburn players could have given any more for their manager," Harry Redknapp said. "If he had really lost the dressing room, or they didn't like him, they wouldn't have been playing for him like they were."

What Blackburn did not possess was the kind of quality in front of goal that Tottenham were able to call upon, especially in the shape of Rafael van der Vaart. The Dutchman is a rare breed in that he expressed regret that he was not eligible to play in the Europa League. If he was frustrated by missing out on trips to northern Greece and eastern Russia, Van der Vaart has started to take it out on Premier League defences.

Kyle Walker made a driving, muscular run down the Tottenham right, drew two defenders and then pulled the ball back beautifully. His second was rather more fortuitous but rather better taken. Benoit Assou-Ekotto did not pass to him, rather the ball deflected off his knee into the path of the Dutchman's boots. The shot, delivered side-footed, was exquisite, finishing in the top corner of Paul Robinson's net.

Curiously, given Kean has emphasised his commitment to a different style to that pursued by his predecessor, Blackburn were most effective when they returned to Sam Allardyce's plan of pumping long balls into the box toward big footballers. There are few bigger or more muscular than Chris Samba.

"I told them at half-time that we could not give free-kicks or throws away because they would take advantage with set-pieces," Redknapp said. "I told them we couldn't even give away an offside. Samba was an absolute handful."

From free-kicks and throw-ins, the balls rained into Tottenham's area, although they only produced one goal. It was a long, high free-kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen that Jason Roberts met by clambering above two black-shirted defenders and his knock-down was met on the bounce by Mauro Formica.

A second goal nearly followed. A long throw from the Norwegian, who probably is not in favour of Kean's sacking, was met by Samba and saved brilliantly by Brad Friedel, falling backwards but still quick enough at 40 to tip the ball over. They were the kind of saves Ewood Park has come to know well.

Booked: Blackburn Nzonzi, Lowe, Roberts, Yakubu. Tottenham Rose

Man of the match: Van der Vaart

Referee S Attwell (Warwickshire)

Attendance 22,786

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor