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Spurs 1 Albion 1

PUBLISHED

16:40 26th December 2013

Olsson's first goal of season earns deserved draw

JONAS Olsson’s first goal of the season earned the Baggies a deserved draw at White Hart Lane.


It is the fifth time during the opening half of the season that Albion have taken points off a top-eight side.


And it was fully merited, especially after falling behind to Christian Eriksen’s spectacular 36th-minute strike from a debatable free-kick.


The hosts' opener came somewhat against the run of play, with Hugo Lloris having earlier made a vital save from the impressive Matej Vydra.


But the lead lasted less than two minutes as skipper Olsson pounced from close range to make it back-to-back 1-1 draws for the Baggies, who repelled late Spurs pressure.


Keith Downing made seven changes to the Baggies’ starting XI, with Vydra, Zoltan Gera, Craig Dawson, Diego Lugano, Steven Reid, Morgan Amalfitano and Claudio Yacob returning in an unfamiliar 5-3-1-1 formation.


New Spurs boss Tim Sherwood made two changes, with Nacer Chadli and Lewis Holtby drafted in.


Albion had an early shout for a penalty turned down in the sixth minute when Amalfitano went down under Lewis Holtby’s challenge just inside the box.

 But referee Anthony Taylor waved their appeals away and, on the counter-attack, Emmanuel Adebayor teed up Holtby, whose strike was blocked by Lugano and span safely into the hands of Ben Foster.


Gylfi Sigurdsson tried his luck with a 25-yard volley on 12 – but watched the ball fly just wide of the right-hand post.


James Morrison sprung Albion on the attack on 13 and he found Gera, who exchanged passes with Vydra before seeing Lloris push his 15-yard shot around the near post via a deflection from Michael Dawson.


From the resultant Amalfitano corner, Adebayor knocked the ball high into the air and Olsson headed it just over the bar under pressure in a crowded six-yard box.


Vydra was presented with a glorious opening in the 18th minute when Morrison slid him in on goal. But the Czech Republic international could not dig the ball out of his feet quickly enough and saw Lloris block at his feet as he tried to round him, with Liam Ridgewell free to his left.


Olsson took one for the team on 25 as Sigurdsson’s pile-driver hit him flush in the face and knocked him to the floor – but the big Swede was able to continue after treatment.


Vydra came within inches of heading the Baggies in front on the half-hour mark as he ran in on Ridgewell’s left-wing cross at the near post. But the ball just evaded him and the despairing dive of Lugano at the far post.


Ridgewell was quickly in the action again a minute later as he flung himself across the box to block Roberto Soldado’s fiercely-struck shot.


Seconds later, referee Taylor harshly gave a foul against Morrison just outside the area as he accidentally caught Kyle Walker, who slid into his follow-through. And the Baggies were made to suffer as Eriksen curled home an unstoppable free-kick, which twice bounced off the crossbar before crossing the goalline.


The visitors were not behind for long, though, as Adebayor failed to clear Amalfitano’s 38th-minute free-kick. The ball landed inside the box for Olsson to coolly lift it over Lloris for the equaliser.


A minute before the break, Eriksen tested Foster again and this time the England keeper was fortunate to see his punch evade the lurking Holtby.


Albion then almost snatched a half-time lead in stoppage time, with Morrison breaking clear and firing a low 15-yard shot wide of the far post.


The first effort of the second half came from Spurs left-back Danny Rose in the 51st minute as he unleashed a 30-yard shot that dipped just over the bar.


Four minutes later, Lloris was forced to dive to his left to punch Reid’s curling free-kick away.


Amalfitano then delivered a dangerous cross from the right-hand byline that Rose could only help on at the near post. Unfortunately, the ball arrived at Gera at an awkward angle and he could not get enough purchase on his effort to beat Lloris.


Sherwood made a change on 62 as Nabil Bentaleb came on for Holtby.


Foster produced an important save five minutes later as he flung himself to his left to keep out Walker’s swerving 25-yard strike.


Downing made a switch on 71 as Amalfitano made way for Youssouf Mulumbu. Four minutes later, Chadli made way for Erik Lamela for the hosts.


On 77, Gera came on off for Stephane Sessegnon while, in between, Soldado headed Rose’s right-wing cross over from 12 yards.


Ten minutes from time, Soldado was a bit too casual from Rose’s low centre and saw his attempted back-heel go wide when he had time to control in front of goal.


In the dying seconds of stoppage time, Rose broke clear down the left and as he centred, Adebayor and Soldado looked set to notch a winner until Foster bravely swooped to smother the ball.


SPURS (4-4-2): Lloris; Walker, Chiriches, Dawson, Rose; Chadli (Lamela 75), Eriksen, Holtby (Bentaleb 62), Sigurdsson; Adebayor, Soldado. Subs not used: Friedel (gk), Fredericks, Naughton, Veljkovic, Capoue.


ALBION (5-3-1-1): Foster; Reid, Dawson, Olsson (c), Lugano, Ridgewell; Amalfitano (Mulumbu 71), Yacob, Morrison; Gera (Sessegnon 77); Vydra (Berahino 83). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), McAuley, Brunt, Sinclair.


GOALS: SPURS – Eriksen (36). ALBION – Olsson (38).


BOOKINGS: SPURS – Eriksen (foul 36), Walker (foul 56), Soldado (foul 87). ALBION – Reid (foul 30), Olsson (dissent 67).


REFEREE:  A Taylor (Cheshire).


ALBION STARMAN: Zoltan Gera.

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