Hot Spurs lay waste to hapless Wigan

NINE goals and Robbie Keane sat and watched it all. If ever there was a day not to admit to post-international weekend fatigue, this, perhaps, was it.

The Republic of Ireland skipper was treated to a touchline view of a finishing masterclass from Jermain Defoe, although Wigan’s defending was also a lesson, albeit in how not to do it.

Remarkably, eight of those goals — plus Wigan’s solitary, controversial reply — came in the second half. It was Tottenham’s biggest win since a 9-0 demolition of Bristol Rovers in the old Second Division 32 years ago and only Andy Cole and Alan Shearer had scored five times in a Premier League fixture before.

Defoe’s first three came in a breathtaking seven-minute spell, with the fit-again Aaron Lennon providing assist after assist in an equally impressive display.

Lennon gave former Spur Erik Edman a torrid time from the off and within nine minutes he had set up Peter Crouch for the opener after Titus Bramble had failed to stop his pass reaching the back post.

Latics goalkeeper Chris Kirkland actually played well throughout and was a major reason there was no more scoring until the second half was a few minutes old. He made one notable save from former Wigan midfielder Wilson Palacios and tipped an angled Defoe effort on to the crossbar.

Destiny had already earmarked Defoe for greatness, however, and the match ball was to be his before the game was an hour old.

Lennon was the provider for his first, with Defoe doubling the lead by getting ahead of his marker, Emmerson Boyce, and rifling high into the roof of the net.

Boyce and Edman failed to cut out a Palacios through-ball to allow Defoe to make it 3-0 three minutes later and his hat-trick was complete in the 58th minute after another Lennon assist.

Wigan had pulled one back by that point through Paul Scharner and, on another day, this might have been a bigger talking point as the Austrian was guilty of as blatant a handball as that perpertrated by a certain Frenchman in Paris last week.

It hardly mattered. Defoe’s third came just seconds later so justice was seen to be done and Lennon helped himself to Tottenham’s fifth when Crouch set him up in the box.

Wigan were praying for the final whistle but further torment came their way in the shape of two smart Defoe finishes and one each from David Bentley and Niko Kranjcar.

Bentley, who replaced Lennon, scored direct from a free-kick, although the ball actually crossed the line courtesy of a rebound off the hapless Kirkland, while Kranjcar pilfered the ninth in added time and via the underside of the bar.

Wigan’s goal difference tally is now the worst in the Premier League but, for Spurs, things are looking distinctly rosy. They are now level on points with Arsenal, whose vastly superior goal difference tally before the game is now just superior.

The Gunners had no difficulty cutting their noisy neighbours down to size at the Emirates earlier in the month — perhaps significantly, Defoe missed that tussle because of suspension — yet their slip-up at Sunderland means that derby success is of limited value so far.

Harry Redknapp’s side can now be regarded as genuine contenders for a top four finish, especially as Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa continue to keep drawing, often with each other.

As for Wigan, manager Roberto Martinez knows escaping relegation can be his team’s only goal this season and they are currently three points and three places above the relegation zone.

This is the Spaniard’s debut season as a top-flight manager and Redknapp admitted he felt for his counterpart in the away dugout.

“I’ve been on the wrong end of a nine before, in my first game, losing 9-0 with Bournemouth at Lincoln,” he recalled. “We had long nylon studs because we were so poor. The players were falling over as they went on to the pitch for the warm-up and I knew we were in trouble. That was about 1,200 games ago!”

REFEREE: Peter Walton (Northants) 6: Did not have much to do apart from signal for yet another kick-off but the one call he had to make he got wrong, failing to spot Scharner’s Thierry Henry-style use of a hand before his goal. Not that it mattered.

MATCH RATING: *****

A breathtaking performance from a side that must now be regarded as real contenders for a top four finish. They won’t always meet such helpful opponents as Wigan, of course, but this was still dazzling stuff.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox