Spurs bounce back to beat Bilbao

Despite declaring that he wanted to leave for Chelsea earlier this

summer, the Croatian was given a hero’s welcome as he came on as an

early substitute just before Tottenham went behind during a poor

first-half display. The introduction of Gareth Bale and five other

substitutes at half-time buoyed the home side, who scored two goals

in two minutes from Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe to seal victory.

Spurs struggled to get into their stride in the first half and

their only real chance of the opening period came when Niko

Kranjcar shot wide while in space 10 yards out. Steven Pienaar

suffered a stomach injury in the 24th minute and Redknapp opted to

replace him with Modric. Modric received a fantastic reception as

he entered the pitch, the home support having seemingly forgotten

about the Croatian’s public pleas to leave for Spurs’ rivals. The

euphoria that greeted Modric’s arrival disappeared within seconds

as Mikel San Jose lost his marker to tap home a free-kick to put

the Spaniards ahead. Spurs were scrappy in possession, with Michael

Dawson and Tom Huddlestone giving away the ball on several

occasions. Redknapp reshuffled his team at half-time, bringing on

Brad Friedel, Bale, Crouch, Defoe, Kyle Walker and Younes Kaboul.

The move worked wonders, with the newcomers injecting life and pace

into what had previously been a dull display. Tottenham were level

five minutes into the half when Bale burst down the left and found

Crouch at the back post where he acrobatically poked home from six

yards. Two minutes later Tottenham were ahead. This time it was

Defoe’s turn to tap in from close-range after a clinical cross from

Aaron Lennon. Reported Spurs target Fernando Llorente provided

Redknapp with a glimpse of his skill when he beat his marker from

six yards only to see his shot rebound off the woodwork for the

Basque side. Carlos Gurpegi then upended Lennon in the box to give

Spurs a chance to move further ahead in the 70th minute, but Gorka

Iraizoz tipped wide Kranjcar’s sloppy penalty. Bale had an appeal

for a penalty turned down with five minutes left and Crouch stung

Iraizoz’s palms with a bullet header from six yards at the death.