Andre Villas-Boas has his first win at White Hart Lane.
It was far from easy for Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, thanks in part to a curious starting eleven selected by AVB. Queens Park Rangers were far and away the better side during the first half of play, but a much-needed change-up made by the Spurs manager coupled with a bit of good fortune that had evaded the team throughout the start of the campaign landed the home side level, and a counterattack that immediately followed that tally gave the hosts the lead. Tottenham then managed to not give up a late goal, holding onto the 2-1 advantage until the final whistle.
Tottenham 2-1 QPR: Lesson learned
Injuries in the team's back line handcuffed Villas-Boas before Sunday's encounter, and he thus chose a starting lineup that left many Spurs supporters scratching their heads. Instead of playing Jan Vertonghen at left back, Steven Caulker in central defense and allowing Gareth Bale to play his natural position, AVB instead started Bale at left back. What resulted was a Spurs side that looked completely lost in all aspects, one that couldn't hold possession in the midfield, get anything going up top or stay tight in defense. Villas-Boas made the necessary switch following the halftime break, but that move came after Bobby Zamora opened the scoring thanks to a solid through ball delivered by Alejandro Faurlin (more on Faurlin next).
Tottenham 2-1 QPR: Football isn't fair
Faurlin did well to play Zamora past a group of Tottenham defenders two minutes after the half-hour mark, a pass that allowed Zamora to open the scoring, but he was also responsible for a shocking miscue. Bale swung a corner across the face of goal in the 59th minute, and Faurlin turned his back toward his own net, a movement that caused him to shoulder the ball past goalkeeper Julio Cesar. It was a curious decision made by Faurlin and a bit of bad luck for QPR, but Spurs fans will say that their beloved team had, after all that has gone down since the start of campaign, earned a good bounce.
Tottenham 2-1 QPR: Man of the match
Jan Vertonghen had his best match at the club level since joining Spurs this past summer, giving multiple glimpses of what is hopefully to come for years down the road. He was arguably the only reliable Tottenham defender during the first half, and it was his run that was started back in the defensive third that ultimately resulted in Jermain Defoe tapping home a rebound shot that gave Spurs their lead. Vertonghen then saved what looked to be a certain goal in the 72nd minute when he sprinted in and denied an unmarked David Hoilett with a sliding tackle that will make end of the season highlight reels.
Tottenham 2-1 QPR: Conclusion
It was no fun watching a Spurs side that was clearly afraid of giving up another stoppage time goal attempt to run the clock out. I'm also finding it hard to rationalize AVB's love of bringing Tom Huddlestone on during the final five minutes of matches. Three points are three points, though, and the win is what matters most this Sunday. The hope now is that Spurs are beginning to "get it" under their new manager, and that Villas-Boas is also learning more about his squad with each half completed.
Cynics will say that Spurs won despite the efforts of their manager. I'll quietly let them complain while enjoying the victory. Tottenham are slowly but surely making their way back up the table, and two goals in roughly 95 seconds were good enough on this day.
I'll take it.