Playing more than 70 minutes with ten men away at England’s form team would be too much for most teams. For Bolton, in the relegation zone at kick off, it was simply too big a test. Spurs needed a seven goal winning margin to overtake Man United’s goal difference and, while they couldn’t do that, they comfortably defeated a limp Bolton side by three goals to nil.
The opening period was a concert for Spurs fans. Modric was showing off his skills as he nutmegged and took the ball away from opposition players. Scott Parker, again strong in midfield, heard his name echoing around White Hart Lane – his thunderous challenges and intelligent passing demonstrating how he has quickly became a fans’ favourite. While Gareth Bale did no harm to his ever-burgeoning record with a goal and two assists.
Spurs began the match with much of the possession and some pretty interplay. Bale beat his marker in the seventh minute to open the scoring with his sixth goal of the season. He raised his boot after scoring in tribute to his late Wales manager, Gary Speed. Parker gave away a mindless foul in the eighth minute, but threw himself bodily at the resulting free kick. Bale, a man possessed in the early exchanges created a chance for Defoe after intercepting a wayward pass from Fabrice Muamba. But as chances fell to Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor, Modric and Bale, they couldn’t add to their slim lead before half time despite an early dismissal for Gary Cahill for a challenge on Parker.
Finally, early in the second half Aaron Lennon broke Bolton’s resistance. He scored his third goal of the campaign, curling a lovely finish inside the near post after arriving on the left flank. Defoe then added a third on the hour mark from a Modric corner, finding himself unmarked Defoe scored a simple goal, his fiftieth at White Hart Lane in the Premier League. Harry Redknapp introduced Rafael Van der Vaart to compound Bolton’s misery but returning from injury, the Dutchman was quiet and Spurs didn’t seem eager to add to the score line late on.
The absence of Ledley King was not a factor as Bolton rarely pressed Spurs’ back four. Spurs dominated possession and field position for the opening 18 minutes and once Cahill was harshly dismissed, the result was scarcely in doubt. So Spurs moved, albeit temporarily, into second place. A record sixth successive win notched with noticeable ease and as they enter December, Spurs’ troubles in August seem quite some time ago.