Tue, Nov 25, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Keane strike fires Tottenham up the table

AFP , LONDON

Tottenham Hotspur's Helder Postiga, left, is tackled by Aston Villa's Gareth Barry at White Hart Lane in London on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Republic of Ireland star Robbie Keane helped move Tottenham four places up the Premiership table on Sunday by scoring the winner in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at White Hart Lane.

Keane produced his goal nine minutes from time after an impressive late equalizer from Rohan Ricketts had cancelled out a strike by Villa's Marcus Allback.

Spurs rose to 12th place after only their fourth win from 13 games while Villa remain firmly entrenched in the relegation zone third from bottom.

David Pleat, the Tottenham caretaker manager, was unhappy with the performance despite the result.

"We didn't play well enough. It was a difficult game, but we had the stickability to come through it. We certainly won't win any leagues that way.

"We believe that when we get [Frederic] Kanoute, [Jamie] Redknapp and especially Simon Davies fit, we can be much, much higher in this league."

Villa manager David O'Leary suggested that Spurs did not deserve the victory.

"We've gifted Tottenham the three points really," O'Leary said. "We got them back into it with silly mistakes.

"We had poor defending on the second goal. And if you give Keane time and space he's going to punish you."

O'Leary is still bidding to claim Villa's third win of the season after five draws and six defeats from 13 games and added: "It's a cruel game, three points can make a lot of difference but we have to get over it."

The match did not really spark into life until after the interval when Allback struck his first goal of the season for the Birmingham side.

Villa winger Peter Whittingham floated the ball into the 18-yard box and Swedish international Allback steered a clinical header past Kasey Keller.

However the goal had a positive effect on Pleat's team, and the first sign of an equalizer came when Taricco's cross just evaded Keane in front of goal, with Postiga again failing to get a follow-up shot on target from close range.

Pleat sent on Ricketts and Bobby Zamora and the move proved inspirational as the young midfielder cut inside Mark Delaney and steered a superb shot into the bottom corner of Sorensen's net from 15 yards on 78 minutes.

Minutes later Keane, who grabbed a brace for his country in midweek, gave the home fans more reason to cheer when he received the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the box, swivelled past a flat-footed Ronny Johnsen and buried a low drive into the back of the net.

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