Tue, Apr 03, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Jol tells Spurs strikers to sharpen up

SPURNED CHANCESThe Tottenham boss fears his side won't be as fortunate as they were on Sunday against Reading if his front men continue to be so wasteful

AGENCIES , LONDON

Martin Jol has warned Tottenham's strikers they must sharpen up after his side made heavy weather of a 1-0 victory over Reading.

A controversial Robbie Keane penalty late in the first half was all that separated the teams at White Hart Lane on Sunday after Spurs squandered a host of chances.

The victory lifted Jol's men into sixth place in the Premiership and kept them firmly in the race for a UEFA Cup spot.

But the Dutch coach fears Spurs will miss out on European qualification if they continue to be so wasteful in front of goal.

Keane, Dimitar Berbatov and Jermain Defoe all had golden opportunities to score and, with a UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg tie against Sevilla coming up on Thursday, they need to improve quickly.

"We had three big chances early on and in the second half we had lots of chances to finish them off," Jol said.

"We should have got three or four goals. But this was a must-win game, so it was still a marvellous result," he said.

Keane won it for Spurs in the 40th minute when he stroked home a penalty after referee Alan Wiley ruled that Reading defender Greg Halford had handled.

Reading's attacking approach earned praise from Jol, who added: "They had good chances too. They put a lot of bodies forward and took chances so credit to them."

However, Tottenham could have been three goals ahead in the first 12 minutes.

First Steed Malbranque hit the outside of the post from Aaron Lennon's pass in the third minute.

Then Keane should have scored when Berbatov chested Lennon's cross into his path, but the Irish striker's shot was too close to Marcus Hahnemann.

Reading were under siege and it took another good stop from Hahnemann to frustrate Spurs. Malbranque's pass gave Berbatov a clear run on goal, but the Reading keeper was quickly off his line to block the shot.

Those spurned chances nearly came back to haunt Spurs when Glen Little's cross picked out Leroy Lita just six meters out, but the striker could only direct his diving header onto the far post.

But Tottenham went ahead when Keane miscontrolled in the penalty area and the ball bounced up onto Halford's arm, though the contact appeared inadvertent.

Keane wasn't going to squander such a golden chance and the Spurs captain confidently drove the penalty past Hahnemann for his 15th goal of the season.

Reading boss Steve Coppell admitted he was frustrated by Wiley's decision, especially as Michael Dawson could also have been penalized for a handball when he tried to control a cross on his chest.

But he took consolation from the way his side, in their first season in the Premiership, once again refused to be overawed by their opponents.

Coppell said: "I've seen it on video since and it hit his hand for sure, but the players are saying the referee turned down the first appeal and then gave it in an almost apologetic way."

"If you say it is a penalty every time it hits a hand then we could have had one in the second half with Dawson, so we feel a little bit hard done by," he said.

"We had a real go. When we were 1-0 down we desperately tried to get the goal and maybe that left us a bit open," Coppell said.

Tottenham has 48 points while Reading stayed in eighth place with 44 points. Everton, however, can reclaim sixth by beating Aston Villa on Monday.

The Spurs have also made it into the quarterfinals of the Champions League and plays at defending champion Sevilla on Thursday in the first leg.

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