Not even Fabrice Muamba’s presence could inspire Bolton as Tottenham strengthened their Champions League credentials with the easiest of wins at the Reebok Stadium.
Forty-six days after suffering a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup quarter-final tie at Spurs, Muamba was back at the Reebok for the first time to thank both sets of fans for their support during his astonishing recovery.
Muamba fought back tears as he was given a highly emotional two-minute standing ovation from both sets of fans before Tottenham delivered a crushing blow to Bolton’s hopes of staying up.
Luka Modric set Harry Redknapp’s side on their way with his fifth goal of the season for his club before Nigel Reo-Coker levelled. But two goals in as many second-half minutes by Rafael van der Vaart and Emmanuel Adebayor put Tottenham in command before Adebayor added his side’s fourth.
Spurs remain fourth but it is looking an increasingly bleak picture for Bolton, who are anchored in the relegation zone with two games left.
Spurs started stronger. Home keeper Adam Bogdan needlessly spilled a 12th minute effort from distance by Gareth Bale before recovering to superbly deny Rafael van der Vaart.
Six minutes later Aaron Lennon’s goal-bound effort deflected off Mark Davies and fizzed narrowly wide.
It looked like being one of those nights for Redknapp and his players when Van der Vaart’s curling 25-yard free-kick fell wide in the 31st minute before Tottenham keeper Brad Friedel was forced into his first save.
Bolton had struggled to seriously test the Spurs defence the previous 35 minutes when David Ngog suddenly found himself in sight of goal but US stopper Friedel brilliantly denied the French striker with his chest.
Tottenham took the lead in controversial circumstances in the 37th minute. Sandro appeared to handle the ball to win the corner from which Bale teed up Modric to arrow an unstoppable 25-yard finish past the outstretched hands of Bogdan.
Bolton spurned a glorious chance to equalise in first-half stoppage time when a Tim Ream free-kick was nodded back across goal for Dedryck Boyata, who slashed wildly over while unmarked from eight yards.
Fortunately for the hosts, Reo-Coker was not so wasteful. The 27-year-old former Aston Villa midfielder had only managed to score two goals since joining last summer but he showed wonderful composure to beat Friedel with a low 51st minute volley after a clever flick by Ngog.
Suddenly, Bolton were on top for the first time. Skipper Kevin Davies went close with a header before a dipping attempt by Chris Eagles.
But Bolton’s failure to take their chances proved costly as Tottenham sealed victory with two goals in as many minutes. Van der Vaart restored his side’s lead on the hour mark with a terrific first time finish after more good work by Bale before Modric’s sublime pass allowed Lennon to square for Adebayor to make it 3-1 from five yards. There was still time for Adebayor to round Bogdan and make it 4-1 — and leave Bolton’s Premier League future in a perilous state.
BOLTON (4-4-2): Bogdan 5; Boyata 5, Wheater 5, Ream 5, Ricketts 5; Eagles 6 (Miyaichi 83, 3) M Davies 6, Reo-Coker 6 (Vela 65, 4), Petrov 6; K Davies 6, Ngog 6 (Klasnic 65, 5). Substitutes: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Knight, Sordell.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-1-4-1): Friedel 7; Walker 7, Gallas 7 (Nelsen 87, 3), Kaboul 7, Rose 7; Lennon 7 (Saha 84, 3), Sandro 7, Modric 8, Bale 7; Van der Vaart 9 (Livermore 79, 4), Adebayor 7. Substitutes: Cudicini, Giovani, Defoe, King.
Referee: Mike Dean 6.
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