Tottenham 1-1 Norwich City
Snodgrass earns Canaries a point
Tottenham conceded a late equaliser for the second week running as Andre Villas-Boas’s wait for his first win in charge continued.
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After a hugely disappointing performance in the first hour, Mousa Dembele thought he had saved the manager’s blushes by scoring on his debut with an 18-yard strike.
The £15 million man’s goal was not enough to give Villas-Boas the victory, though, as Robert Snodgrass scored five minutes from time after Spurs buckled under pressure in the same way they did against West Brom last week.
Villas-Boas’s approach had failed to excite the majority of Spurs fans during his first two games in charge, and today’s offering hardly set the collective pulse of the home crowd racing at White Hart Lane.
The London club lacked penetration up front and were almost totally devoid of ideas in midfield and on the flanks until the introduction of Dembele and Emmanuel Adebayor – and the home support made their feelings known at the final whistle by booing their team off.
Worryingly for Villas-Boas, Tom Huddlestone was also sent off for a very poor tackle on Bradley Johnson with a minute left.
And had it not been for an excellent performance from Brad Friedel, Spurs could have been 3-0 down by the time Dembele struck.
The American, whose first-team place is in doubt following the signing of France stopper Hugo Lloris yesterday, pulled off brilliant saves from Snodgrass and Anthony Pilkington in his 307th consecutive Barclays Premier League game.
There was no sign that Spurs would put in such a poor first-half performance at the start.
Aaron Lennon, fresh from signing a new four-year contract, burst down the right flank and cut back for Gylfi Sigurdsson, but he shot wide in the opening minute.
That proved to be Spurs’ only attempt on goal for the first 15 minutes as Norwich took hold of the game.
Snodgrass floated in a perfect cross for Russell Martin, who headed against the bar via the fingertips of Friedel.
Martin then made light work of shrugging off Jermain Defoe and released Simeon Jackson, who ran 50 yards before slipping a shot just wide of Friedel’s goal.
Defoe looked isolated up front and his only effort at goal was a tame shot that dribbled in to John Ruddy’s arms.
The home fans were getting angry with Spurs for their failings on the pitch, the Londoners resorting to passing the ball across their back four on many occasions.
Norwich, in contrast, grew in confidence by the minute. Howson’s cross was cleared only as far as Johnson, who belted a screaming half-volley just over.
The level of Spurs’ desperation was summed up 10 minutes from the break when Sandro resorted to a 35-yard shot that sailed in to the stands.
Norwich then almost took the lead just before half-time when Pilkington crossed for Snodgrass, who was denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Friedel.
Norwich felt they should have had a penalty moments later when William Gallas clattered in to Jackson, but Mark Halsey waved play on.
Villas-Boas brought on Dembele for Sandro at half-time and the Belgian impressed early on. Sigurdsson also sprung into life, volleying a powerful shot, but Ruddy saved with ease.
Pilkington curled a clever free-kick just wide after a clumsy foul by Gallas, but Spurs hit back through Bale, who thumped a powerful drive just over the bar.
Spurs still lacked a cutting edge, however, and Villas-Boas turned to Adebayor for inspiration, the striker coming on for Sigurdsson.
Spurs were given a potential route back in to the game when Leon Barnett hacked down Defoe on the edge of the box, but the England striker could only shoot at the wall from the resulting free-kick.
Friedel once again proved his worth by saving a powerful low shot from Pilkington.
The tense atmosphere inside White Hart Lane was eased after 68 minutes when Dembele opened the scoring.
Defoe drifted into the left-hand side of the box and laid the ball off to the Belgian, who shot beyond Ruddy, whose view was partially blocked by Howson.
Aware that his team had surrendered a 1-0 lead in injury-time last weekend, Villas-Boas looked to pack his midfield by bringing on Huddlestone for his first game in just over a year.
The move did not work, however, as Norwich snatched an equaliser through Snodgrass.
Moments after Kyle Walker had cleared off the line, Snodgrass seized on a loose ball, smashing home through a crowded box with five minutes left.
Huddlestone thumped a powerful drive wide, but his return ended in disappointment two minutes from time when he was given a straight red for a horror tackle on Howson.
Bale was also booked for dissent shortly afterwards as Tottenham lost their discipline.
Johnson almost won it with 30 seconds left when he powered in a fierce shot which Friedel did well to save.
The home fans made their feelings clear at the final whistle, greeting their team’s draw with a huge chorus of boos.
Tottenham 1-1 Norwich City