Defoe gives Tottenham 1-0 win over West Brom
Updated: January 03, 2012, 18:02
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LONDON(AP) Tottenham consolidated third place in the English Premier League on Tuesday after Jermain Defoe's goal secured a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
West Brom's stubborn resistance took until the 63rd minute to be broken down when Spurs slickly produced the goal that pushed them five points above fourth-place Chelsea with a game in hand.
Fed by Rafael van der Vaart, Gareth Bale crossed from the left to Defoe, who found space in a crowded penalty area to shoot on the turn into the net.
"It was a hard night,'' Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "They set up to be difficult to beat ... it was hard work breaking them down.
"I couldn't see (a Spurs win) at halftime. They were sitting in deep there was no space. We like to hit teams on the counterattack but if they aren't coming out it is very difficult.''
Tottenham endured a nervy end to the match after being disrupted by injuries.
But unlike on Saturday when a late equalizer was conceded at Swansea, Harry Redknapp's side clung on amid intense West Brom pressure to stay six points behind leader Manchester City with a game in hand.
"You're not going to rip teams every week. It's not easy,'' Redknapp said. "You only need to look at the results over the holiday period. There are no easy games. Blackburn proved that at Old Trafford (beating Manchester United), Sunderland proved that beating Man City, Fulham beating Arsenal.''
Spurs had to cope throughout without the defensive shield provided by Scott Parker due to a knee injury, while hamstring troubles are still denying them the lightning pace of Aaron Lennon on the right wing.
It didn't prevent a storming Spurs start to the fixture, winning five consecutive corners in the opening minutes and preventing the visitors from getting a touch of the ball or encroaching in their half.
A well-organized Tottenham side dominated without causing any serious trouble for West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster.
It took 25 minutes for Foster to be seriously tested when Van der Vaart's first-time shot from Bale's cross was tipped over.
Sandro, who was filling Parker's role, lasted just 30 minutes before limping off with a calf tear and Jake Livermore taking his place.
West Brom also had an early injury setback, with Jerome Thomas replaced by Gonzalo Jara in a defense that had to remain constantly alert.
The back four was rarely allowing the Tottenham forwards to get sight of goal, with Van der Vaart restricted to a low shot that Foster easily collected toward the end of the half.
Before Defoe's 10th goal of the season, he backheeled wide early in the second half from Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross.
The deadlock had barely been broken when Tottenham had to deal with another injury: Captain William Gallas limped off with a calf tear like Sandro's, with Sebastien Bassong coming on.
With 15 minutes to go, Tottenham's plans were disrupted by more injuries after Livermore cut his lip in a clash with teammate Younes Kaboul. While Kaboul recovered, Livermore had to be switched with Niko Kranjcar, adding to Tottenham's casualty list ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third round against Cheltenham.
West Brom was 15th in the standings, seven points above the relegation zone. Manager Roy Hodgson was unhappy that his side had 24 hours less to recover having lost to Everton on Sunday.
"We tried to have the game moved to Wednesday, which Spurs were happy with,'' Hodgson said. "But for some reason it wasn't moved.''