Blackburn 1-2 Tottenham

By Jamie LillywhiteBBC Sport
Rafael Van der Vaart celebrates with Aaron Lennon
Two sublime finishes from Van der Vaart were enough to seal Tottenham's win

Two masterful strikes from Rafael van der Vaart increased the pressure on Blackburn manager Steve Kean.

The Dutchman slotted Spurs ahead with a neat side-foot finish from 12 yards following a superb run by Kyle Walker.

Rovers levelled as Mauro Formica fired into the top corner after Christopher Samba had flicked on a free-kick.

After the break Van der Vaart showed more composure to curl in nonchalantly from 20 yards, keeping Rovers level at the bottom of the table with Wigan.

Numerous Blackburn fans marched towards Ewood Park armed with a variety of banners, placards and posters all demanding the exit of Kean, who was presiding over his 30th match in charge but remains with only six victories.

The home side started positively, Junior Hoilett jinking through but firing well over, although two crucial interceptions were needed at the back, Jason Lowe denying Gareth Bale a certain goal then Gael Givet scrambling clear with Emmanuel Adebayor poised.

Spurs were far from their best but on the seventh anniversary of Bill Nicholson's death they did their legendary double-winning manager's memory proud with a delightful opening goal.

Plenty of positives - Steve Kean

Adebayor freed Walker and the England international galloped clear along the right-hand touchline before cutting the ball back perfectly for Van der Vaart, who calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

Moments later it was almost two when Bale's inviting left-wing cross flicked off Martin Olsson and needed to be smartly tipped over by former Spurs goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Bale was causing all manner of problems for the Rovers defence, running at them ruthlessly with terrifying pace, and he supplied an intricate square pass for Adebayor, but the on-loan striker scuffed his left-footed shot and Robinson was able to clear.

Rovers always looked dangerous from set-pieces and after giant centre-half Samba ruffled Tottenham feathers from a Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick, Formica demonstrated superb technique and quick feet to drive in the loose ball from 15 yards.

Blackburn fans protest
Rovers fans made their feelings clear before and after the final whistle

A burst of speed from Luka Modric culminated in a low 25-yard shot that Robinson turned around the post and the fluctuating nature of the contest continued as the dangerous Hoilet cut in from the left and unleashed a stinging drive that was beaten out by Brad Friedel.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp must have retained hope his team's undoubted extra quality would have prevailed and when a loose ball fell to Van der Vaart, the talented Dutchman calmly stroked the ball beyond Robinson into the net.

Blackburn continued their aerial bombardment, Friedel spilling a long kick from Robinson, and the home side thought they might have had a penalty following confusion between Friedel and Benoit Assou-Ekotto when Formica went down under challenge from the Spurs left-back.

Friedel had some unsettling moments against his former club but tipped over expertly from Samba's back-header following an enormous Pedersen throw under the crossbar.

Harry Redkanpp defends Steve Kean

Yakubu was thrown into action and caused great problems with his muscular presence, if not his finishing.

With Spurs unable to kill the game off, Olsson crossed invitingly from the left but Yakubu steered woefully wide, leaving Rovers fans to intensify their protests inside the ground after the final whistle.

Blackburn manager Steve Kean:

"Not to even get a draw is tough. We gave it one almighty go, we're going to play worse than that and win.

"We had them rocking a bit and continued to keep the pressure on but if we keep playing like that we'll climb the table.

"Our game plan was good and we're gutted, I'm sure the fans will see that. Each supporter is allowed an opinion and I respect that but they were fully behind the team.

"I've got broad enough shoulders and I'll protect my players, we'll organise, get back out there again and win games.

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp:

"They never gave up, they're so strong at set pieces. All I said was don't give free-kicks away, big Samba comes up and heads every ball in the air, they really worked hard and the players have given everything for the manager, I think it's very unfair he should be getting criticised.

"That's five goals Rafa has scored in the last four games and it was a very difficult decision, I've got Adebayor up front and someone to play off him.

"Jermain Defoe has been in great form and is very unlucky not to be in the team but Rafa is a clinical goalscorer and this year he is capable of 20 goals.

"We've got an awful lot missing but we've been on a great run."

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