Tottenham Hotspur 2 Blues 0

Last updated : 26 December 2005 By Brian Cartlidge

A penalty from Robbie Keane and superb late strike from substitute Jermain Defoe gave Spurs all three points.

Blues, who were desperately unlucky not to have shared the points, saw their woes increased after midfielder Muzzy Izzet was sent off.

Manager Steve Bruce made five changes from the side that lost 3-1 to Manchester Utd in the Carling Cup tie at St Andrew's last week with Neil Kilkenny, Izzet and Julian Gray replacing David Dunn, Stephen Clemence and Nicky Butt in a much revamped midfield. Kenny Cunningham came in for Damien Johnson at right back whilst Stan Lazaridis replaced Marcos Painter on the other side of the back four.

Tottenham should have taken the lead as early as the second minute when Aaron Lennon latched on to Matthew Upson's poor backpass, but the former Arsenal defender made a last-gasp recovery tackle to deny Lennon a shot at goal.

At the other end Paul Robinson was quick to save smartly from Jiri Jarosik from close range after Neil Kilkenny had supplied the pass.

A lack of muscle in the Blues midfield allowed the lively Lennon and Edgar Davids to create chances from midfield. Jermaine Jenas first saw his shot fizz wide from distance with 17 minutes gone.

Then ten minutes later Keane's hopeful ball into the box was turned away with Davids lurking at the far post.

Ledley King also had a chance to break the deadlock but his shot from six yards was struck straight at goalkeeper Maik Taylor.

After the restart it was Blues who looked sharpest. Julian Gray first saw his shot saved by Robinson. Upson was then unlucky to see his header turned over the bar by Mido.

Both sides lacked the killer pass as the game turned stale. That was until referee Phillip Dowd awarded Spurs a somewhat dubious penalty in the 57th minute.

Upson was clumsy with his challenge on Keane, sending the striker sprawling on the floor and the Spurs striker took the resulting spot-kick himself and made no mistake for his sixth goal of the season, firing the ball into the bottom right-hand corner with Taylor diving in the opposite direction.

Keane then almost doubled Spurs' lead when he was played through by Davids' through ball. The Dutchman's pass was perfect for Keane, but the striker's tame shot was easy for Taylor.

Any hopes that Blues had of drawing level were dealt a huge blow when Izzet was shown a second yellow card after he went to ground in the Tottenham box under pressure from Michael Dawson. Mr Dowd believed Izzet had dived and did not hesitate to issue the red card.

It was a harsh decision on Blues, who have now had five players dismissed already this season.

The sending-off sank Blues hearts and substitute Defoe nearly added to their misery when he skipped past the sluggish Stan Lazaridis, but he was unable to find a way past Taylor.

Jenas then missed a golden opportunity from five yards before Defoe made sure of the result in injury time.

The England striker was fed by Jenas before running at Kenny Cunningham. The defender backed off and Defoe rifled his shot in from the tightest of angles.

Blues now have the daunting task of facing Manchester United and Chelsea away before the end of the year.