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03 December 2023

Title-chasing Spurs forced to settle for draw

Tottenham Hotspurs' Gareth Bale reacts after missing a scoring opportunity against Wolverhampton Wanderers during their English Premier League match at White Hart Lane in London on Saturday. (REUTERS)


Tottenham Hotspur wasted a chance to move level on points at the top of the Premier League after being held to a frustrating 1-1 draw against struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Harry Redknapp's in-form side would have joined leaders Manchester City and second-placed Manchester United on 48 points with a win at White Hart Lane.

But Spurs were stunned as Steven Fletcher put Wolves ahead mid-way through the first half and, even though Luka Modric equalised after the break, the hosts were unable to find the crucial second goal.

Instead of underlining their title credentials, this unconvincing display suggested Spurs - who will be five points behind City if they beat Wigan Athletic on Monday - may not be quite ready to challenge City and United.

Tottenham had a flurry of early chances when Modric squirted a shot wide and then had a powerful effort blocked by a posse of Wolves defenders before he blazed over soon after.

But Wolves, who remain one point above the relegation zone, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute in controversial circumstances.

The visitors were awarded a dubious corner when Kyle Walker was adjudged to have touched the ball on its way out despite the full-back insisting he did not.

Brad Friedel parried Roger Johnson's header from the corner into the path of Fletcher and he made no mistake from close range.

It was the first goal Spurs had conceded at home in 359 minutes and sparked a response from the hosts.

Gareth Bale stung Hennessey's hands with a low drive before Rafael van der Vaart fired over.

Johnson blocked van der Vaart's goal-bound effort and Modric volleyed at Wayne Hennessey as the Spurs onslaught continued.

Redknapp's frustration got the better of him just before the break when he shouted angrily at a member of the Wolves bench for failing to return the ball to the field of play.

The hosts thought they had equalised in first-half injury-time, but Emmanuel Adebayor's toe-poke from six yards was ruled out for offside.

Spurs' frustration grew after Bale skied a shot from the edge of the area, but they were level moments later thanks to Modric.

Van der Vaart skilfully turned in the box to square to Bale, who laid the ball off to the Croatian and he hammered home from 20 yards through a sea of defenders.

Aaron Lennon should have made it 2-1 moments later but he could only fire into Hennessey's arms after the Wolves keeper had saved from Modric.
Redknapp brought on Jermain Defoe for Lennon as he tried to find a way through.

The England striker, reportedly unhappy at his lack of first-team action, almost made an immediate impact, latching on to a clearance before firing a fierce low drive that Hennessey saved with his feet.

Walker ran 70 yards before seeing his deflected shot sail wide as the game entered what promised to be a nervous final 10 minutes.

Modric fired a shot just over Hennessey's bar from 25 yards and Scott Parker mis-hit an effort with the goal gaping with five minutes left.