Tottenham boosted their bid for Champions League football after Emmanuel Adebayor secured a late victory against 10-man Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
Adebayor, who scored in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea, scored with seven minutes remaining to rescue Spurs and keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish.
Stoke, who had Charlie Adam sent off in the second half, must now win their final match of the season if they’re to realise their goal of a top-half finish after pulling away from the relegation zone.
And it was the Potters who started brightly on their 150th anniversary as they snatched the lead within three minutes. Adam floated a free kick into the penalty area for Steven N’Zonzi to head home with Hugo Lloris unable to keep it out.
The visitors struggled to get going in the opening stages and a stinging long-range blast from Gareth Bale was the closest they came to forcing an equaliser before they were handed a lifeline by Tony Pulis’ side. Scott Parker’s through ball was caught goalkeeper Asmir Begovic out of position on the edge of the penalty area, allowing Clint Dempsey to improvise and guide Marc Wilson’s weak clearance into an empty net from 40-yards.
Begovic atoned for his error by producing a smart save to prevent Michael Dawson’s header from going in before referee Kevin Friend gave Adam was given his marching orders for a ham-fisted lunge on Jan Vertonghen 65 seconds after the break.
Spurs sought to make the numerical advantage count and Dempsey went close to a second when he clipped Bale’s corner over the bar, while the Welshman curled wide after turning neatly in the box. But Andre Villas-Boas’ side have a knack for scoring late goals, doing so in their last six matches, and Adebayor slotted in from Dempsey’s low cross to breathe new life into their Champions League dream.
Tony Pulis post-match…“We’re disappointed in particular with their second goal because it was a deflection that let their lad in. I’m delighted for us to be in the Premier League for a sixth consecutive season.”
Andre Villas-Boas post-match…“What we did was we kept the patience. It would have been very easy for us to lump it forward. We were rewarded in the end for that patience. In the end we got what we deserved.”
Man of the Match…Emmanuel Adebayor: Although he failed to match his performance against Chelsea in midweek Adebayor led the line with presence and eventually popped up with the winning goal to keep Spurs in the hunt for a top-four finish.
Flop of the Match…Charlie Adam: If there is one personality trait Adam shares with Paul Scholes, it’s that they’re both tackle dreadfully. Two unpolished lunges from the Stoke midfielder earned him a red card two minutes after the break and swung the contest in Spurs’ favour.