Spurs survive Shamrock scare
Roman Pavlyuchenko scored his first goal of the season to break Irish hearts and inspire Tottenham to a 3-1 win over Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League Group A match at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham looked in danger of succumbing to a European giant-killing act when Stephen Rice put the Irish champions ahead after 50 minutes of average work by the Premier League side.
But Pavlyuchenko's towering header opened the way for goals from Jermain Defoe and Giovani dos Santos in five frantic minutes as Tottenham made their superior class pay to eventually run out comfortable winners.
With the London derby against Arsenal on Sunday in mind Tottenham made 10 changes from the side which beat Wigan on Saturday, with manager Harry Redknapp including youngsters such as Kyle Walker, Jake Livermore and Thomas Carroll.
However, he still paid Rovers due respect with Defoe back from illness, Aaron Lennon returning from injury and experienced campaigners such as Sebastien Bassong, Vedran Corluka and Pavlyuchenko in the side.
Tottenham should have taken the lead in the 17th minute when Defoe was put clear by an astute pass from Dos Santos, only for Rovers goalkeeper Richard Brush to touch the England striker's right-foot shot on to the crossbar. And Tottenham who rattled the woodwork again just after the half hour when the lively Dos Santos played in Danny Rose whose shot cannoned off the crossbar.
And it was Rovers who took a shock lead in the 50th minute. A brilliant free-kick from Gary McCabe was palmed away by Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini but Patrick Sullivan fired in the rebound and in the penalty melee which ensued Rice prodded the ball into the net.
Rovers 1-0 up and one of the great European shocks was on the cards. Or at least it was until Tottenham woke up as the clock clicked on to the hour mark, when the impressive Dos Santos supplied the delivery and Pavlyuchenko rose high above the Irish defenders to head home. It was the Russian's first goal of the season and the relief was palpable around White Hart lane.
Cue a Tottenham surge with Defoe heading home a cross from substitute Andros Townsend two minutes later and Dos Santos making it five minutes of misery for Rovers when he smashed home his first goal for Tottenham since February 2009 with a powerful left-foot drive.
All that was left was for former Tottenham star Rohan Ricketts to come off the Rovers bench with 19 minutes remaining to savour a taste once more of life at the Lane and rue a night of what-might-have-beens.