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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Tottenham 5-1 Southampton: FT Report

PA

Jermain Defoe proved to be Tottenham's Christmas cracker at White Hart Lane with a hat-trick as Spurs hammered Southampton 5-1 to secure their fourth consecutive Premiership victory.

Hat-trick hero Jermain Defoe salutes the crowd which included Sven Goran-Eriksson (PhilCole/GettyImages)

In front of England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, Defoe smashed home the first after eight minutes from Fredi Kanoute's cutback and tucked in the second just before the half-hour.


Jol makes Defoe pledge

Kanoute was in on the action himself a minute before the interval and after Peter Crouch pulled one back with a soft header, Defoe pounced to complete his hat-trick after 65 minutes and he then turned provider for Robbie Keane to poke home the fifth.

The victory not only propelled Tottenham into the top half of the table but marked their best run of league form since 1995, a remarkable turnaround given it was less than a month ago that Spurs suffered their sixth straight league defeat.

While Martin Jol has worked wonders to bring some festive cheer to White Hart Lane, Harry Redknapp faces a bleak midwinter with Southampton.

His new side remain bogged down in the relegation zone and never even threatened a first away win of the season.

The Saints' defence came to north London bearing gifts that Spurs were all too happy to accept, with Darren Kenton the chief culprit.

After only eight minutes he misjudged Michael Carrick's long clearance down the line, allowing Kanoute to surge into the box. The Mali international picked out Defoe with a delayed cutback and the England man rifled Tottenham ahead.

Defoe, recalled after missing the victory over Manchester City through suspension, pounced on a defensive slip and his cutback forced Kenton to slide in and concede the corner. He was not far off, slotting it inside his own near post.

The corner delivery, for the second time in the early exchanges, was poor but Tottenham continued to press forward.

Carrick, with calm poise, worked his way clear on the edge of the Saints' box but could only poke his 20-yard effort harmlessly straight at Antti Niemi.

Michael Brown then lifted the ball through to Defoe, who twisted and turned in the Southampton box. Kenton ended up on his backside, but the England striker was denied by a magnificent point-blank save from Niemi.

The Southampton supporters barely had the chance to breathe a sigh of relief before Defoe reacted quickest to turn Paul Telfer's challenge on Kanoute into the perfect through-ball and placed his shot inside the far post.

A diving save from Niemi kept Kanoute's curling effort out and then Rohan Ricketts headed over the crossbar from six yards from Thimothee Atouba's raking cross.

But less than a minute later, on the brink of half-time, Kanoute burst onto Carrick's pass over the top. While the Southampton defence looked for a flag, Kanoute tucked the ball inside the near post.

Southampton emerged from the interval to strains of "We're gonna win 4-3" from the away supporters' corner and within two minutes of the restart the fans' cries were answered.

Ledley King attempted to hook the ball clear, but it flew straight up in the air. Crouch, the tallest player in the Premiership, held off Anthony Gardner to nod the ball past Paul Robinson, who was hovering in no-man's land.

But it was a mere blip. Carrick was controlling the midfield and Spurs recovered from their wobble.

When Kenton allowed Brown to bring the ball down on the edge of Southampton's area, a fourth goal was almost inevitable. Niemi blocked Brown's drive, but Defoe popped up to slot home the rebound for his 14th strike of the season.

Robinson then denied Kevin Phillips at full stretch as Tottenham began to toy with Southampton as the away supporters streamed out and Redknapp paced in the technical area shaking his head.

Soon afterwards Spurs sliced Southampton open once again, with Keane latching onto Defoe's chip to round off the afternoon.

Jol makes Defoe pledge

Martin Jol is confident Tottenham can withstand any big money approaches for hat-trick hero Jermain Defoe, who fired Spurs to a 5-1 victory over Southampton today.

'Defoe looked lethal again. He has scored nine (Premiership) goals now,' said Jol.

'He is on a long contract. He is happy with our club. We can go places because of him, he is one of the best strikers in England. I am pretty certain (we can keep him).

'We are a financially strong club, so why shouldn't he be here and take us up the league? I think Defoe is a terrific player for us and I think he has a big future for us.'

Asked whether Tottenham could withstand a lucrative offer, Jol said: 'I think so.'

And far from losing one of his prized assets, Jol is looking to bring in players during the January transfer window to underpin Tottenham's push for Europe in their rejuvenated season.

'You are always looking to strengthen your squad. I hope to. Everyone in the Premiership wants to strengthen their squad,' said Jol. 'A couple of weeks ago I said 10th or 11th place would be good, but my team are improving. They show good intentions before the game in training and they do it.

'They show better character. It's about top mentality and they showed that to get the results we have had in the last few weeks.'

It might be argued that Southampton were missing such character. They made horrendous errors in defence, gifting Tottenham chance after chance, and goal after goal.

Redknapp has only been in charge for two matches but has seen enough to be brutally realistic about what lies ahead.

'There is a lot of hard work to be done here, for sure. It's going to be difficult,' he said. 'I knew it would be hard, to take over a team in the bottom three with only two wins, but it's going to be a real struggle.

'We are right in it and it's whether we have got the character here to get out of it. I am going to try and pull a few rabbits out of the hat in January from somewhere - beg borrow and steal a few players and see if we can get out of it.'

Redknapp is determined that Antti Niemi should not be lured away from the south coast.

'The goalkeeper is a different class, we have got to hang onto him,' Redknapp added. 'We are okay up front when James Beattie is fit, but other areas we need to improve in.

'I still think I'll get out of it, I still think I'll keep them up.'

Jim Smith, who left Portsmouth with Redknapp, was at the game today and could join the staff at Southampton. At least, that was the plan.

'I think Jim was here but I would think he will look and think, `Hang on a minute I might not bother',' joked Redknapp. 'The defending was abysmal. It was unreal. We gave them gifts all day.

'I brought Darren Kenton in to mark Defoe because they are the same size and quick. I got Claus Lundekvam, who is 6ft 2in, to mark (Fredi) Kanoute who is 6ft 3in. But after five minutes they decided to do the opposite.

'Strange, really, isn't it. You have team meetings, but what can you do when they get out there?'

Southampton were shredded by a former West Ham trio of Defoe, Kanoute and Michael Carrick who haunted Redknapp, their former manager.

In front of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, Defoe nailed his first Premiership hat-trick and Carrick controlled the midfield, while Kanoute enjoyed one of his best afternoons since his switch from Upton Park, which he capped with a goal just before the interval.

'Defoe, Carrick, Kanoute - I signed them all. They are quality players. They are a better quality,' said Redknapp. 'Defoe is a terrific talent, and a bargain for the money they paid for him. Fredi is a talent, there is no doubt about that.'

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Yeah! where are all the Southampton supporters now! :D

Do we actually have any?
 

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I'll post the 100th post of the Southampton Forums :D
 
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