LONDON: Robbie Keane’s first Tottenham hattrick helped the Londoners to a thrilling 4-3 win over Premiership high-flyers Everton here at White Hart Lane yesterday.
The result moved Tottenham up into eighth place while Everton stayed sixth.
The other Premiership match between Birmingham and leaders Arsenal at St Andrews yesterday kicked off 31 minutes later after a floodlight failure.
Tottenham had lost their three previous matches but manager Glenn Hoddle said this performance had allowed Spurs to silence their critics. “It was fabulous character from the team. There’s nothing wrong with our team spirit,” Hoddle pointedly told Sky Sports.
And delighted Republic of Ireland international Keane, who arrived at Tottenham in a £7 million (US$11 million) pre-season move from Premiership rivals Leeds, added: “It was great. My family were over here from Dublin.”
Everton’s on-loan United States international Brian McBride marked his debut by opening the scoring in the tenth minute when he slotted past compatriot and Tottenham keeper Kasey Keller.
But within four minutes Tottenham were level through Uruguay veteran Gustavo Poyet.
In the second half, Spurs took a 50th minute lead through Keane only to lose it eight minutes later when Toffees defender Dave Watson equalised from a corner.
Keane’s second was a blistering low strike from 25 yards that keeper Espen Baardsen could do nothing about, but then Canada international Tomasz Radzinski brought Everton level again when he beat Keller at his near post in the 74th minute.
The match decider came when Keane pounced on a failed clearance by Everton centre-back Alan Stubbs seven minutes from the time.
Keane surged into the box and chipped the ball over Keller to complete a memorable treble.
Asked which of his goals was his favourite, Keane replied: “I was just happy to get the first.”
Everton had taken the lead when Scott Gemmill’s well-weighted through ball found McBride who beat the onrushing Keller.
But, not for the first time, the lead was quickly lost.
Darren Anderton’s corner was only cleared by the Everton defence to Spurs midfielder Simon Davies. His cross found Poyet who headed past former Tottenham keeper Baardsen, a late replacement for Richard Wright who injured himself during the warm-up.
Both sides had further chances to score in the first half with Stubbs going close when his 30-yard free-kick in the 37th minute just went over the crossbar.
However, at half-time, the teams were locked at 1-1.
Five minutes after the break Tottenham went ahead when Keane found space in the middle and ran at the heart of the Everton defence before rounding Keller to score his first goal of the match.
In the 58th minute the Merseysiders pulled back level when Steffen Iversen failed to clear a corner and Watson pounced with a quickfire shot that arrowed into the bottom corner.
Tottenham then regained the lead when Keane received Anderton’s pass, turned Yobo, and beat Baardsen from fully 25m.
Still Everton came back, Chinese star Li Tie finding McBride who in turn laid the ball off to Radzinski. Keller had left his near-post exposed and Radzinski netted with a crisp strike.
But this was Keane’s day and in the 83rd minute he finally concluded the scoring in stylish fashion. – AFP