Pavlyuchenko fires Tottenham's Champions League bid

LONDON, March 13, 2010 (AFP) - Roman Pavlyuchenko kept Tottenham on course for the Champions League as his double-strike clinched a 3-1 win against Blackburn on Saturday.

After a miserable first half of the season, Pavlyuchenko has been in superb form of late and the Russia striker took his goal tally to eight in his last six games to ensure Harry Redknapp's side consolidated fourth place in the Premier League.

Tottenham's Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko celebrates scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers on March 13, 2010. AFP PHOTO

When he recently used a Russian media interview to accuse Redknapp of treating him as a joke, Pavlyuchenko looked to be angling for a move, but he has found a rich vein of form and was too hot for Rovers to handle at White Hart Lane.

Jermain Defoe put Tottenham ahead in the first half and Pavlyuchenko struck soon after the interval, then netted again in the closing stages to ease the hosts' nerves following Christopher Samba's goal for Blackburn.

Tottenham are now three points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester City, who travel to Sunderland on Sunday.

Redknapp believes the result gives Tottenham a great chance of landing a place in Europe's elite club competition.

"People have always got doubts about everything, all I've said is we have got a chance. It's not impossible, we have had a great year," he said.

"It was a terrific result, I felt it was going to be a difficult day. Blackburn started the game well, they came out on the front foot. This was a big three points for us.

"I wouldn't have been disappointed to come in at 0-0 at half-time so the goal was the icing on the cake."

Defoe was back in the starting line-up after dropping to the bench for last week's FA Cup draw at Fulham, with Peter Crouch making way for the England striker.

Redknapp's team made the early running with Benoit Assou-Ekotto crossing for Pavlyuchenko to stab his shot into the ground and over.

Pavlyuchenko also fired wide from Gareth Bale's cross, but Blackburn felt they could have had a penalty when midfielder David Dunn was sent sprawling in the area by Vedran Corluka but referee Howard Webb waved away their appeals.

Blackburn suffered a blow in the 25th minute when former Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson had to limp off after suffering a leg injury, with Jason Brown coming off the bench as his replacement.

Brown was at the centre of the action immediately as Assou-Ekotto's early cross from the left angled towards the bottom corner and the Welsh keeper managed to claw it away.

He made an even better stop to deny Defoe after Luka Modric's pass split open the Rovers defence.

But Defoe wasn't to be denied and he opened the scoring in first half stoppage time.

Niko Kranjcar's corner was flicked on by Corluka and Defoe, unmarked at the far post, was able to tap in his 23rd goal of the season.

Blackburn's chances of getting back in the game were killed off within a matter of minutes early in the second half.

Rovers striker Nikola Kalinic mis-controlled when he had sight of goal and Spurs took full advantage as Pavlyuchenko struck in the 55th minute.

Modric made a driving run and picked out Defoe, who laid off a pass to Pavlyuchenko and the Russian's finish trickled under Brown's weak attempted save.

Modric could have added another when Sebastien Bassong carried the ball out of defence and found his team-mate but the Croatian dragged his shot wide.

Samba reduced the deficit when he headed home from Morten Gamst Pedersen's cross in the 80th minute despite appeals for a foul on keeper Heurelho Gomes.

But Pavlyuchenko grabbed his second five minutes later when he slotted in Bale's cross.

Source: AFP

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