How Charlton must be kicking themselves. For an hour yesterday Alan Curbishley's team were quicker in thought and execution, yet for the second time in three matches, gave away a two-goal lead. In the end, the visitors had to thank Richard Rufus for a goal-line clearance from Steffen Iversen's overhead kick that denied Spurs an injury-time winner.
A draw, however, was just about right, Robbie Keane and Iversen, one of three second-half Spurs' substitutes, cancelling out two Jason Euell goals to extend the respective unbeaten runs of both teams.
Tottenham had started brightly enough, Keane almost wriggling his way through for a first-minute opener. But then Charlton took over against a side of six 30-somethings, many of whom looked as if they had consumed too much Christmas fare. Teddy Sheringham, in particular, had a poor match on his return after a brief injury lay-off and it was no surprise when, reluctantly, he retired to the bench on the hour.
By then, Charlton had deservedly moved into the driving seat, inspired not only by Rufus but also by Euell and Scott Parker. As they struggled to cope with the visitors' superior pace and link-up play, Tottenham fell behind on 14 minutes when Parker played Euell in behind Chris Perry and he lashed the ball home.
Hoddle, who normally only leaves the directors' box for the second half, came straight down to the dug-out. But without the commanding presence of the absent Dean Richards, his defence always looked vulnerable.
Within two minutes of the restart, Charlton had doubled their lead, the ball again played behind the back four for Euell to convert a tap-in after Kasey Keller had saved his first effort.
Only when Hoddle sent on Iversen and Les Ferdinand to join Simon Davies, a half-time replacement for Darren Anderton, did Spurs at last look menacing. Keane halved the deficit with a fierce drive from Iversen's header across goal and the Norwegian himself equalised four minutes from time, rising high to head home Stephen Carr's cross.
There was still time for Rufus to somehow keep out Iversen's brilliant bicycle kick and, disappointingly for Spurs, for Christian Ziege to be sent off in injury time for two bookable offences – his second dismissal in four days. It seemed particularly harsh. Even Parker admitted that Ziege did not touch him when he went down under the German's challenge, though the referee Andy D'Urso took a different view.
Hoddle was understandably frustrated by the dismissal. Under the rules he can no longer appeal, but hopes D'Urso will look again at the incident. "Christian is distraught. In the two games he's been sent off, he hasn't made one malicious tackle," Hoddle said.
Tottenham Hotspur (3-5-2): Keller 7; Perry 6, King 7, Bunjecevic 6; Carr 8, Freund 6 (Iversen 8, 60), Anderton 6 (Davies 6, h-t), Poyet 7, Ziege 6; Keane 8, Sheringham 5 (Ferdinand 7, 60). Substitutes not used: Taricco, Sullivan (gk).
Charlton Athletic (3-5-2): Kiely 7; Fish 6 (Konchesky 6, 73), Rowett 7, Rufus 9; Powell 7, Parker 8, Euell 8, Jensen 6 (Kishishev, 81), Young 7; Bartlett 6 (Fortune, 89), Lisbie 7. Substitutes not used: Johansson, Roberts (gk).
Referee: A D'Urso (Billericay) 6.
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