London: The north London side responded to Pavel Pogrebnyak`s early opener to record their seventh win in nine matches as the race for Champions League places hots up in 2013.
Tottenham celebrated the New Year in style as they moved up to third place in the Premier League with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Reading at White Hart Lane.
The visitors took a shock lead in the fourth minute through Pavel Pogrebnyak’s header but Spurs levelled five minutes later as captain Michael Dawson glanced the ball in from a corner.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side completely dominated the game and sealed the result in the second half through an Emmanuel Adebayor header and a deflected strike from substitute Clint Dempsey.
Spurs made one change to the side that beat Sunderland as Gylfi Sigurdsson replaced the suspended Gareth Bale, while Reading named an unchanged line-up for the third successive game.
Reading arrived in north London having lost eight out of their 10 previous away matches this season, but took a shock lead in the fourth minute as Pogrebnyak scored his fourth league goal of the campaign.
It was the simplest of finishes for the Russian as he responded quicker than the Spurs defenders to head into an empty net after Ian Harte’s wonderful curling free kick crashed off the underside of the crossbar.
The lead did not last long, however, and five minutes later Spurs were level. Sigurdsson whipped in a vicious inswinging corner and Dawson got in front of the Reading defenders to glance his header into the far corner.
From that moment, Spurs dominated possession and territory but struggled to break down Reading’s well organised defence as space narrowed and gaps closed in the final third.
Villas-Boas side were largely restricted to shots from range, with Mousa Dembele firing just wide from 30 yards before Jermain Defoe’s powerful strike skipped just past the post with Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici well beaten.
But the Royals` resistance could only last until five minutes after the restart. Aaron Lennon skipped past Harte on the right side of the penalty area and stood up an excellent cross for Adebayor to head in from seven yards for just his second league goal of the season.
Spurs pressed for a third goal but could not find a route to the Reading goal before the visitors served a warning of the fragility of a one-goal advantage when Pogrebnyak forced Hugo Lloris into a smart save and then headed the rebound wide.
It seemed to inject some life into Brian McDermott’s side, who again nearly equalised when Alex Pearce’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Dawson.
Yet the Royals were swiftly punished as Dempsey sealed the result with a shot from 25 yards that deflected off Mikele Leigertwood and looped over Federici and into the net.
First Published: Wednesday, January 02, 2013, 08:53