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Defoe keeps Spurs in hunt for European spot

JERMAIN DEFOE kept Tottenham on course for a Champions League spot after his strike ensured a draw against Wigan at White Hart Lane yesterday.

The England striker poached his eighth goal of the season on his 150th Premiership appearance to deny Paul Jewell's spirited side, who saw stand-in striker Andreas Johansson net twice.

Martin Jol's team are now five points clear of rivals Arsenal in the race for a top-four finish but they will have to improve on this performance if they are to stay ahead in the final straight.

Jol handed a debut to new signing Danny Murphy, while Mido was restored to the starting line-up for the first time since returning from the African Nations Cup.

Wigan, who face Manchester United in next weekend's League Cup Final, made a snappy start and within nine minutes they were ahead.

Spurs failed to react to Paul Scharner's flick-on from keeper Mike Pollitt's long clearance and Johansson snaffled possession and buried his shot in off the far post.

In the 12th minute, Defoe latched on to Murphy's nod-down but could not direct his close-range shot past Pollitt, who saved well with his legs.

Mido showed a more ruthless touch 10 minutes later. A cleverly-worked throw-in ended with Paul Stalteri fizzing a cross to the near post and Mido's back-heeled flick sped across Pollitt and into the far corner of the net.

The stage seemed set for Spurs to complete their revival in the second half, but the interval seemed to stall their momentum.

Instead, it was Wigan who set the pace and in the 66th minute, Henri Camera played a one-two with Johansson and the Swede raced past Ledley King and smashed his shot past Paul Robinson.

It was just reward for a fine second-half performance but the goal ruined Wigan's concentration.

Less than 60 seconds after forging in front, Arjan de Zeeuw dithered over clearing Mido's nod-down and Defoe chipped in the equaliser.

Afterwards, Wigan manager Paul Jewell admitted he will "break one or two hearts" when he names his team for next week's Carling Cup Final clash with Man Utd.

Jewell has proven goal-scorer Jason Roberts available again following suspension but knows stand-in Andreas Johansson has been in sparkling form.

"I know what it feels like to be left out of a final because it happened to me. I'm going to disappoint a few people but I have to do it. You can't please everybody."

TOTTENHAM: Robinson, Stalteri, Dawson, King, Lee, Lennon, Murphy (Keane 74), Carrick, Davids (Huddlestone 85), Mido, Defoe.

WIGAN: Pollitt, Chimbonda, Henchoz (Jackson 45), De Zeeuw, Baines, Bullard, Scharner, Kavanagh, Thompson, Camara (McCulloch 90), Johansson.

Referee: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).