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Match Report: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Hull City
Roberto Soldado scored a controversial late penalty to give Tottenham all three points over an injury ravaged Hull City at White Hart Lane.
The win for the home side lifts them into the top four and sees them extend their winning streak to three. For Hull the result marked back-to-back defeats for the first time this season and sees them drop to tenth in the table.
Tottenham went into the fixture on the back of a midweek 2-0 Europa League away win against Sheriff Tiraspol. In the league however, Spurs were looking for consecutive wins following their 2-0 away victory over Aston Villa thanks to goals from Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado. Hull City meanwhile, headed into this league and cup double header on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
Predicting a starting Tottenham eleven prior to kick-off after their midweek clash was an impossible task with international players likely to not even be included in the squad. Of the team that played in Europe only five kept their starting births in the shape of Hugo Lloris, Sandro, Jan Vertonghen, Aaron Lennon and Vlad Chiriches. Manager Andre Villas-Boas recalled Kyle Walker, Michael Dawson, Andros Townsend, Paulinho, Lewis Holtby and striker Roberto Soldado to the starting eleven.
Hull City had suffered yet more injury troubles ahead of the Premier League clash with Tottenham and boss Steve Bruce was forced to make six changes. The news that ever-present goalkeeper Allan McGregor would be out with a thigh injury for up to six weeks rocked the club with Steve Harper replacing him between the sticks ahead of his debut. The previous defeat at Everton was a blow in more ways than one with Danny Graham being ruled out for three weeks after a heavy challenge from Gareth Barry. Elsewhere, Sone Aluko and Robbie Brady were unable to start the fixture with the latter only finding a place on the bench. Throw into the mix Jake Livermore ineligibility due to playing against his parent club and the Tigers squad looked thin on the ground. Steve Harper, David Meyler, Alex Bruce, Paul McShane, Yannick Sagbo and George Boyd all came into the starting eleven to cover the injuries with places on the bench for the returning Robert Koren, Gedo and Aaron McLean.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris – Walker – Vertonghen – Dawson – Chiriches – Sandro – Townsend – Paulinho – Holtby – Lennon – Soldado
Subs: Friedel – Lamela – Naughton – Defoe – Dembele – Sigurdsson – Eriksen
Hull City: Harper – Rosenior – McShane – Figueroa – Davies – Elmohamady – Huddlestone – Meyler – Boyd – Sagbo
Subs: Jakupovic – Koren – Brady – Gedo – McLean – Proschwitz – Quinn
It took until the 12th minute for the home side to carve out a chance when Paulinho hooked a Holtby free-kick just over the bar of Steve Harper. The in-form Andros Townsend then made Harper pull off a fine save four minutes later with a dipping effort from 25-yards.
The first effort on goal by the visitors came from George Boyd when he tried his luck from range but it was a routine save for Lloris in the Spurs goal before shortly palming away a low Sagbo shot.
Tom Huddlestone, who was returning to his former club where he spent eight years, struck a vicious volley just over the crossbar just after the 30 minute mark.
Liam Rosenior entered the referees book when he was awarded a yellow card for a foul on Chiriches and from the resulting set-piece Kyle Walker drilled in a fierce effort but Harper was equal to it to beat away the ball.
The half-time interval came with the scores locked at 0-0 and Hull were frustrating Tottenham with only really half-chances created. Hull were tireless in their first-half workrate and Spurs lacked that killer final ball. Sandro was replaced at the break by Moussa Dembele after the midfielder picked up a yellow card for a cheap foul on Boyd.
The first real chance of the second-half came in the 55th minute when Townsend fed Soldado, who shrugged off a challenge from Elmohamady, before attempting to curl a low shot into the corner only for Harper to pull off a fine save down to his left.
The former Valencia striker then went down inside the box under a challenge from fan favourite Paul McShane but referee Michael Oliver waved away the protests.
Chiriches then earned a yellow card for bringing down Sagbo but the free-kick was easily cleared by the resolute Tottenham defence.
Townsend and Paulinho both tried long-shots from distance but only brought about comfortable saves for Harper in the Tigers goal.
Hull continued to soak up the Tottenham pressure and sensing they needed a spark Villas-Boas introduced both Christian Eriksen and Jermaine Defoe as Spurs looked for that decisive opening goal.
He didn’t have to wait long when in the 78th minute Ahmed Elmohamady was adjudged to have handled a cross from Vertonghen on the left side of the box with the referee pointing to the spot. Replays showed that the ball did strike the arm of the Egyptian however the midfielder was very close to the initial cross and would have found it very hard to get out of the way of the delivery. Nevertheless the penalty stood and up stepped Soldado who calmly sent Harper the wrong way to give Tottenham the lead.
Brady, McLean and Proschwitz where then all swiftly brought on as the Tigers tried in vain to find an equaliser. Brady and Huddlestone failed to make the most of free-kicks in promising positions and the score remaining the same with Spurs claiming a 1-0 victory.
The Egyptian Focus
The main talking point of the game revolved around Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamdy and he can feel hard done by with the penalty decision. Elmo was in close proximity to the initial delivery and whilst the ball did strike his arm there was very little else he could have done. With injuries stacking up for Hull, Gedo found a place on the substitutes bench but failed to get any game time. I’d expect him however to play in the cup game against Spurs midweek.
Jamie Barwick is a 21-year-old Sports Journalism graduate and a fan of Hull City, covering the Tigers on KingFut.com.