Andre Villas-Boas went from zero to hero against Queens Park Rangers, after a half-time tactical reshuffle helped to bring a struggling Tottenham back from behind to grab a 2-1 win in North London.
Rangers dominated the opening half and deserved their goal when Alejandro Faurlin slipped in Bobby Zamora, who easily tucked the ball past Brad Friedel after 32 minutes.
Friedel was tested on a number of occasions before the goal, with the American shot stopper proving just why France’s national team captain Hugo Lloris remains on the bench at White Hart Lane. Clint Hill’s header forced a reaction save from the Spurs keeper before Junior Hoilett’s chest and volley brought out an incredible diving save to deny the winger.
With a number of first team regulars out of action through injury, including Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Emmanuel Adebayor, Villas-Boas opted to start Gareth Bale at left back with Clint Dempsey, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Mousa Dembele, Sandro and Aaron Lennon in the heart of the field. The four central players seemed to get in each others way, causing a lack of cohesion and flow to the home side’s play.
Bale too was left exposed on the left with no midfielder in front of him and QPR tried to exploit the space on down his side of the pitch.
With nothing going to plan, and a chorus of boos coming from the home fans, AVB brought in Steven Caulker for Sigurdsson to solidify his defensive line.
The plan worked and Spurs, in three magical minutes took the lead.
First Alejandro Faurlin put the ball in his own net after Caulker nodded the ball back across goal at a corner, before Defoe tucked the winner into an empty net after Julio Cesar tipped Gareth Bale’s effort onto the crossbar on 62 minutes.
With the momentum and confidence, Tottenham composed themselves and pushed on. Dempsey dragged a pair of efforts wide of the target while Bale and Lennon lead the counter attack for Tottenham.
QPR poked and prodded on the break, but the stern defence, lead by the marvelous Jan Vertonghen held while Julio Cesar was forced into an incredible save with the last kick of the game to deny Defoe his second.
AVB will have needed this win and he just about got it.