Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Reading
Tottenham Hotspur 3 (Dawson 9, Adebayor 51, Dempsey 78)
Reading 1 (Pogrebnyak 4)
A lack of fortune in the second half denied the Royals anything from their New Year’s Day clash with Spurs at White Hart Lane.
Brian McDermott’s men took an early lead when Pavel Pogrebnyak bundled home, after Ian Harte’s crashing free-kick had cannoned back off the crossbar.
However Spurs responded swiftly to equalise through Michael Dawson, before Emmanuel Adebayor gave the home side a lead shortly after the break.
Reading responded admirably – and were desperately unlucky not to find an equaliser as Pogrebnyak and Kebe were both denied, before Pearce’s header was brilliantly cleared off the line by Michael Dawson.
The visitors’ day was summed up as substitute Clint Dempsey’s speculative effort took a wicked deflection off the leg of Mikele Leigertwood – looping high into the sky before dropping beyond Federici and into the net.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Walker, Naughton, Vertonghen, Dawson (Capt), Sandro, Lennon, Dembele, (Parker 69) Sigurdsson (Dempsey 74), Defoe, Adebayor (Livermore 86)
Subs: Friedel, Dempsey, Huddlestone, Parker, Falque, Livermore, Caulker
Reading: Federici; Gunter, Harte, Mariappa, Pearce; Karacan (Robson-Kanu 61), Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff (Le Fondre 72); Guthrie; Pogrebnyak (Hunt 83)
Subs: Taylor, Cummings, Morrison, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Hunt
The Royals started in magnificent fashion. A superb turn and pass by Danny Guthrie resulted in Pavel Pogrebnyak crashing to the floor on the edge of the box – and in prime position Ian Harte rattled his set piece against the crossbar.
However Pogrebnyak reacted first, stooping low to head the rebound past a stranded Hugo Lloris.
A stunned Spurs had a chance to respond as Adam Federici’s scuffed goal-kick set Aaron Lennon scuttling away down the right wing, but the England international’s cross was bundled wide by Emmanuel Adebayor at the far post.
A more emphatic response came shortly afterwards. Michael Dawson met Gylfi Sigurdsson’s in-swinging corner well at the near post, heading across the box and clinically home.
The in form Jermain Defoe got a snap-shot away shortly afterwards, but under pressure saw his effort fly high over Federici’s bar – before Sigurdsson’s deflected strike dipped narrowly off target in the very next attack.
Mousa Dembele came an inch closer twenty minutes in, shrugging off the attentions of Karacan before slamming a sizzling drive just wide of the post.
The next spell of the game was quiet, a little scappy even – as Brian McDermott’s men largely kept Spurs at bay.
Defoe almost sprung proceedings back into life ten minutes before the break – weaving into space 20 yards from goal before dipping a shot narrowly off target.
The diminutive striker was at it again five minutes later, though this time his low effort was well held by Federici – before the Australian stopper grasped another zipping daisy cutter, this time from Adebayor.
McAnuff attempted to give the Royal some respite, meeting Kebe’s cutback with a half volley from the edge of the box – though the ball sailed a good few yards wide of Lloris’ goal.
It was Federici who was bright and alert again as stoppage time ticked over, reacting well to a deflection on Sandro‘s shot to palm away from danger.
The irrepressible Defoe picked up where he left off after the break, forcing another side out of Federici – who held well at a comfortable height.
It was, however, Defoe’s strike partner who would edge the home side in front. Neat work from Lennon on the right wing teed up Adebayor, who headed home coolly at the far post.
Sandro attempted to extend that new found lead moments later, but clipped a 25-yard-drive inches wide.
Naughton and Defoe both came close in and around the hour mark, whilst Hal Robson-Kanu and Adam Le Fondre were introduced as the visitors attempted to claw their way back into the game.
Gylfi Sigurdsson almost showed his familiar goalscoring prowess in the 72nd minute, motoring forward from the centre of midfield before dragging wide from the edge of the box.
At the other end Pogrebnyak had a golden opportunity to level proceedings – cutting in from the right before forcing a neat save out of Lloris, and heading the resulting rebound just off target.
The away side had their tails up. A great pass by Le Fondre saw Kebe through on goal, but the Malian’s close range effort was somehow deflected agonisingly wide.
Still they kept coming. From the resulting corner Pearce headed Guthrie’s set piece towards goal, only to see Michael Dawson brilliantly clear off the line.
Reading’s luck was clearly non-existent. Just two minutes later substitute Clint Dempsey’s speculative long range effort cannoned off the leg of Leigertwood. looped high into the air and dropped past a helpless Federici into the net. It was undeserved for the visitors, and a bitter pill to swallow.
Spurs attempted to rub more salt into the Royals wounds as substitute Scott Parker saw his swerving drive acrobatically tipped around the post by Federici, but there were to be no further goals - as Tottenham completed a 3-1 double over the men from Berkshire.