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PREMIER LEAGUE: West Brom make Tottenham toil hard for full points

Tottenham have moved five points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a dour West Bromwich Albion at White Hart Lane.

Jermain Defoe's neat second-half finish was the difference in the end as a tired looking Spurs produced a rather lackluster showing to grind out maximum points which sees them just a win behind reigning champions Manchester United who hold second position.

The goal came about in the 63rd minute when the home side finally broke down a disciplined Baggies defence with Defoe receiving a pass from Gareth Bale in the area with his initial touch popping up above his ahead. However, he was able to control with his chest by shielding it away from his marker before turning and slotting calmly past Ben Foster.

Foster was by far the busiest of the two keepers starting with an acrobatic punch from Bale's dangerous cross directed at Defoe in the 15th minute before the Birmingham City loanee was vital in swatting Rafael van der Vaart's flick from Bale's low cross over the bar in the 27th minute.

Defoe wasn't far off opening the scoring early just over five minutes into the second half when he flicked van der Vaart's cross from the left channel agonisingly wide of the far upright about half an hour before Spurs keeper Brad Friedel had to make his first save of the match when he kept out substitute Somen Tchoyi's vicious strike from about 20 yards.

Tottenham started the game without injured midfielder Scott Parker and manager Harry Redknapp was forced into three changes throughout as Sandro appeared to re-injure a hamstring and William Gallas went down with a calf injury whilst substitute Jake Livermore had to be replaced after splitting a lip in a collision with teammate Younes Kaboul.

But apart from the injuries, Redknapp will be pleased with a gritty and patient showing that keeps them right in the mix for a crack at the title whilst Roy Hodgson's Baggies fell to 15th despite being again very hard to break down.

TRIBAL ASKS: Tottenham grab a 13th win from their past 17 and extend their unbeaten streak to five. Is this the sort of form that can reel in both Manchester City and United or do they need to improve sharply?

Tottenham: 1 (Jermain Defoe 63') West Bromwich Albion: 0

White Hart Lane, London - 36,062

Yellow cards:TOT - nil WBA - Jerome Thomas 23', Billy Jones 47', Graham Dorrans 52', Paul Scharner 89', Simon Cox 90+3'

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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