Spurs claim third despite early New Year alarm

The visitors took a shock early lead through Pavel Pogrebnyak but Spurs hit back through Michael Dawson, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey to record their seventh win in nine matches.

Last updated on Wednesday, 02 January, 2013 12:43 IST
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London: Tottenham Hotspur leapfrogged Chelsea to claim third place in the Premier League by coming from behind to win 3-1 at home to second-bottom Reading on New Year's Day.

The visitors took a shock early lead through Pavel Pogrebnyak but Spurs hit back through Michael Dawson, Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey to record their seventh win in nine matches.

Andre Villas-Boas' side moved a point above Chelsea, who have two games in hand and host Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday, while Brian McDermott's Reading remain five points from safety.

Reading are still to win away from home this season, but they stunned Tottenham by taking the lead in the fourth minute.

Ian Harte, Reading's 35-year-old left-back, rolled back the years by curling a 20-yard free-kick against the crossbar and Pogrebnyak stooped to head the rebound into the unguarded goal.

It took Spurs just five minutes to level, however, as Dawson met ex-Reading midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson's left-wing corner with a near-post header that flashed past visiting goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Tottenham seemed determined to atone for their sluggish start and despite the absence of the suspended Gareth Bale, they dominated the game thereafter.

Jermain Defoe headed over the bar, while Sigurdsson saw a shot deflected over and Mousa Demble drove wide.

Defoe shot fractionally wide of the post in the 37th minute and then forced Federici into a smart save, before the Reading goalkeeper reacted quickly to snatch the ball away from Adebayor after spilling a shot from Dembele.

The second half quickly adopted a familiar pattern, with Federici getting down well in the 47th minute to field a left-foot curler from Defoe.

Spurs duly went in front six minutes into the second period, with Adebayor climbing at the back post and straining his neck muscles to meet Aaron Lennon's dinked cross with an emphatic header.

Sandro went close and Lennon tested Federici, but there was a scare for the hosts when Pogrebnyak went close twice in quick succession.

Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris got down well to repel a shot from the Russian after he had surged down the right and when the ball came back to him, the Reading striker put his header wide.

Kyle Naughton then had to produce a last-ditch tackle to prevent Jimmy Kebe from drawing Reading level, as the ghosts of Spurs' recent late capitulations threatened to return.

Fate, however, had other ideas, and with a large slice of luck, Dempsey put the game beyond Reading in the 79th minute with a 30-yard shot that took a wicked deflection off Mikele Leigertwood before looping over Federici.

Story first published on: Wednesday, 02 January 2013 12:26 IST

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