Jermain Defoe got two goals as Tottenham beat Reading 3-1 in soccer’s Premier League to ease early-season pressure on coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Gareth Bale also scored at Reading’s Madejski Stadium yesterday for Spurs, who climbed to 10th. Hal Robson-Kanu replied in the 90th minute for 19th-place Reading.
“We’ve been chasing this win for quite some time and it’s important for everybody,” Villas-Boas told Sky Sports. “Hopefully we can push on from now.”
Tottenham has five points from four matches, five behind first-place Chelsea. Reading, which has played only three games, remains on one point. Only Southampton is below the Royals in the table.
U.K. newspaper The People said yesterday that Villas-Boas, who was appointed two months ago, had three matches to save his job. Following the win, bookmaker William Hill lengthened its odds on the Portuguese coach leaving the club before the end of the season to 11-2 from 7-2.
Spurs made a positive start, forcing goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, who was making his Premier League debut, into a save on six minutes when former Reading midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson met a free kick with a header.
Bale fired a shot just past McCarthy’s post two minutes later.
Reading appealed for a penalty kick when the ball appeared to hit the arm of Tottenham defender Kyle Walker in the 12th minute. Instead, a free kick was awarded for a foul on Walker.
It was still Spurs on the attack for most of the opening stages and Defoe put the Londoners ahead on 17 minutes. Aaron Lennon collected the ball from Sigurdsson and crossed for Defoe to strike a low shot into the corner of the net.
Sandro tested McCarthy with a long-range shot a few minutes later, then Defoe brought down a long ball forward before hitting a shot wide.
Defoe stole the ball from McCarthy after 32 minutes, but Sigurdsson’s goal-bound shot was cleared off the line by Alex Pearce.
Defoe and Sigurdsson had further chances before halftime, with Reading having a rare opportunity from a Pavel Pogrebnyak shot that was blocked.
The Royals, back in the top division for a first time since 2008, made an attacking change at halftime by introducing Adam Le Fondre for Jem Karacan.
They started to gain more possession, although Tottenham was still a threat on the break and appeared more likely to score. The visitors pushed for a second goal, aware that allowing a late goal in each of their last two matches had resulted in 1-1 ties.
Bale finally made Tottenham’s dominance count after 71 minutes with a shot that looped over the goalkeeper from about 10 yards. Any chance of a Reading comeback was ended three minutes later as Defoe was allowed to run forward before firing past McCarthy.
“We created a lot of chances and could have scored more, but the lads did well,” Defoe told Sky Sports. “Our season can start now.”
Reading pushed for a goal in the last five minutes, with an effort from Le Fondre cleared off the line by William Gallas. Substitute Robson-Kanu volleyed into the net as the game entered injury time.
Chelsea tops the standings, even after it was held to a 0-0 tie at west London rival Queens Park Rangers two days ago. Manchester United has nine points, with Arsenal and Manchester City on eight.
United beat Wigan 4-0, Arsenal defeated Southampton 6-1, while City tied 1-1 at Stoke.
In other games, Aston Villa won 2-0 against Swansea, Fulham beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0, Sunderland and Liverpool drew 1-1, and the match between Norwich and West Ham was scoreless. Today, Everton hosts Newcastle.