Spurs finally have a Russian in their arsenal

JERMAIN DEFOE may have recorded his 22nd goal of the season, and his sixth against Wigan, to help rekindle Tottenham’s hopes of Champions League qualification, but a late double from out of favour striker Roman Pavlyuchenko proved to be the talking point.

Defoe had rattled in five against the Latics at White Hart Lane in November, and tapped in the opener here. It was offside, but the 27-year-old has equalled his best ever haul in a campaign.

For a side who scored nine in that November fixture, it seems amazing that Defoe’s strike on 27 minutes was only Tottenham’s fourth league goal of 2010.

But substitute Pavlyuchenko neatly scored their fifth from the edge of the box six minutes from time before squeezing home their sixth in added time to wrap up a comprehensive victory.

Harry Redknapp has not enjoyed the best of working relationships with the player he brought on 18 minutes from time to replace Defoe, but he said of the Russian: “When he wants to work and play, he’s got great ability and technique. He’s a top-class player.”

Assistant manager Kevin Bond added: “He’s actually trained really well all week.

“The manager always had it in the back of his mind that he was going to use him at some point. He’s come on and made a real impact. He’s given the manager plenty to think about,” he added.

Spurs began the day as outsiders to finish it in fourth, but they capitalised on the draw at Eastlands between Manchester City and Liverpool.

The DW Stadium pitch represented something you may find on the parks around Wigan rather than a surface on which top-flight football should be played.

The surface will be replaced before next month’s clash with Liverpool.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez was understandably irritated by the linesman’s decision to allow Defoe’s opener just before the half hour, but he was just as annoyed that referee Alan Wiley failed to brandish red cards to Defoe and Tom Huddlestone.

Defoe got away with a clumsy lunge on Gary Caldwell before getting a yellow for encroachment just before the break, while Huddlestone went in late on James McCarthy when already on a caution.

Martinez said: “That’s the bad taste that’s been left through the whole game.

“There is a clear feeling of frustration. I thought that Defoe and Tom Huddlestone did enough to get sent off, and that should have been a disallowed goal. It is very difficult to explain the referee’s performance today.”

Wigan’s most lively player, Hugo Rodallega, saw a shot from the edge of the box tipped over by Heurelho Gomes after being played in by strike partner Marcelo Moreno in the early stages.

The Latics didn’t seem too upset when Defoe finished off Gareth Bale’s superb left-wing cross, but replays clearly showed that he was ahead of the defence when the ball was played.

“I tried to have a word at half-time with him (Alan Wiley), but he didn’t allow me to,” said Martinez. “But there were no players in the line of vision, and he (the linesman) was following play.”

Bond said that “we got the rub of the green”, while Redknapp continued: “It doesn’t bother me at all. I haven’t seen a replay, sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. It was a great performance on a difficult pitch and in difficult conditions. I was really pleased with the lads.”

Wigan looked to have a little bit more potency after the break, as ex-Crystal Palace forward Victor Moses drove straight at Gomes shortly after coming on.

But the game could, and probably should, have been over on 61 minutes when Defoe latched onto a through ball by Nico Kranjcar. His shot was saved by the legs of Chris Kirkland. Kirkland saved again from Peter Crouch before Luka Modric, who played in his fellow sub Pavlyuchenko for the second, hit the post.

But the Russian confirmed the points late on to keep Wigan firmly in the relegation battle. They are just two points above the drop-zone, and are on a run of just one win in 12.

MATCH RATING: *** – Tottenham were always in control of this one from the moment Defoe scored. Martinez was right to be annoyed with the off-side decision, but the visitors deserved their win. They were given a major boost with the late performance of Pavlyuchenko.

REFEREE: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire) 7 – Not his fault that Defoe’s opener stood, but it didn’t stop Wigan’s fans venting their frustration in his direction at the half-time whistle. Had a reasonable game overall.


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