Rose rocket sets up Spurs success

Rose, 19, smashed home Manuel Almunia’s looping fisted clearance on

the full from 30 yards out after just 10 minutes. The thunderbolt

return screamed narrowly over Almunia’s head and, though the

Spaniard appeared to react slowly, it was hit with such venom that

he had little chance. Spurs doubled their lead through Gareth Bale

a minute after the interval and, although Nicklas Bendtner pulled

one back six minutes from time, the hosts held on to seal their

first league triumph over their north London rivals since 1999.

Just as importantly, victory propelled them right back into

contention for the fourth Champions League place and they now trail

fourth-placed Manchester City by one point with five games

remaining. It was just the response Harry Redknapp was hoping for

after Sunday’s bitter FA Cup semi-final defeat by Portsmouth – a

match that had taken extra time to settle. There was little sign of

tired legs, though Spurs – lifted by the return of skipper Ledley

King from a thigh injury – rode their luck at times with Bendtner

missing one good early chance. Running out of ideas after having

the better of the first-half possession, the Gunners wilted after

the interval with Bale’s strike appearing to be an insurmountable

setback. They found a second wind – inspired mainly by the

68th-minute arrival of Robin van Persie with Bendtner supplying

their goal – but were frustrated by a string of fine saves from

Heurelho Gomes. The six-point gap with leaders Chelsea remains and,

with four matches left, Arsenal have little chance of ending their

five-year wait for silverware this season. Much of the pre-match

focus was on Sol Campbell’s return to White Hart Lane and his every

touch of the ball were predictably greeted with a chorus of jeers

But the former England defender almost silenced the home fans with

a minute on the clock only for his goalbound header to be cleared

off the line by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Michael Dawson made a crucial

tackle on Tomas Rosicky as he was pulling the trigger from 10 yards

out amid a strong start from the Gunners. The promise ended,

however, when Rose turned play on its head by driving home his

contender for goal of the season. Moments earlier Spurs had seen

Thomas Vermaelen make a vital block of Roman Pavlyuchenko’s

close-range shot and Arsenal’s problems deepened when the Belgian

defender limped off to be replaced by Mikael Silvestre. The goal

had knocked the wind out of Arsenal’s sails but slowly they clawed

their way back into the match. Bendtner was superbly teed up by

Rosicky but, despite only being 12 yards out and having time on the

ball, he still scuffed a poor shot towards Heurelho Gomes. Panic

reigned in Arsenal’s defence when Silvestre gave Luka Modric a

glimpse of goal with a careless touch but Almunia blocked and then

Campbell came to the rescue. Spurs replaced Rose with David Bentley

at half-time and it took just a minute for the Champions League

hopefuls to extend their lead. Jermain Defoe did well to hold off

Emmanuel Eboue and pick out Bale with a beautifully-weighted pass.

Silvestre’s lack of pace was exposed as the in-form Bale raced

inside him and planted the ball beyond Almunia. Defoe and

Pavlyuchenko were then scrambling frantically to take advantage of

hesitancy in the visitors’ defence as Spurs pushed for a third.

Bendtner dragged a shot narrowly wide of the left post and, in the

68th minute, the Dane was joined up front by Van Persie. Van Persie

forced a fine reflex save from Gomes and the Brazilian then punched

clear three successive hanging balls amid a mass of bodies. Better

was to come from Gomes, however, as he made a magnificent stop from

Van Persie’s perfectly placed free-kick before then diving to keep

out Campbell. But he was powerless to prevent Arsenal pulling one

back with six minutes to go as Spurs’ defence failed to pick up

Theo Walcott’s pass which Bendtner slid across to bundle into the

net. The Gunners poured forward in search of the equaliser but

Spurs held out for a precious win over their north London rivals.