By Saj ChowdhuryBBC Sport
Jermain Defoe (left) celebrates his goal with Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Defoe (left) celebrates scoring the only goal of the match

Tottenham kept up the pressure on the title-chasing Manchester clubs with a hard-fought victory over West Brom.

The Baggies frustrated Spurs for more than an hour before striker Jermain Defoe broke their resolve.

The diminutive striker, sporting a blond haircut, spun on the spot before firing in after good work by Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale.

Van der Vaart also forced a save from Ben Foster, while West Brom's Somen Tchoyi and Simon Cox had shots blocked.

Redknapp credits 'tough' West Brom

For much of the match though, the Midlands side were content to defend and hit Spurs on the break.

They started with a 4-5-1 formation, leaving Peter Odemwingie up front as they searched for their fifth clean sheet of the season.

And, having stated before the match that survival was his side's primary aim, it was not a surprise that manager Roy Hodgson was playing the percentages.

The plan worked for much of the match, reducing a potent Spurs, who had scored in their previous 17 league matches, to only one clear chance in the first 45 minutes.

But that opportunity, and the build-up to it, showed a slick Spurs at their finest. Left-sided marauder Bale sped down the wing and pulled the ball back for Dutchman Van der Vaart, whose flick at the near post had to be tipped over by Foster.

It was a half in which Tottenham won 10 corners, but failed to trouble the West Brom defence with any of them, Craig Dawson looking particularly impressive for the Baggies.

The London side needed someone to conjure up something special and it was produced by Defoe, who up to that point had only troubled the Albion goal with a backheeled flick that trickled a couple of yards wide.

Hodgson shrugs off fixture congestion

But he made the most of his second opportunity.

The move that led to the goal was sharp. Van der Vaart spread the ball out to Bale on the left of the box, who in turn found Defoe on the edge of the six-yard area. With four players around him, the England striker turned at pace and poked his shot past Foster.

, who was left bloodied after a clash of heads with team-mate Younes Kaboul, seemed to upset the Spurs balance. The Baggies sensed the unease and pressed for an equaliser in the closing moments.

The visitors won successive corners in stoppage time which caused mild worry in the Tottenham area, but Redknapp's side clung on for a victory that leaves them just three points behind second-placed Manchester United in the title race.

Live text commentaryexternal-link

Top Stories