Spurs edge Swansea to relaunch top-four challenge
LONDON, Dec 16, 2012 (AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur rekindled their push for Champions League qualification by overcoming Swansea City 1-0 on Sunday to return to the Premier League's top four.
Jan Vertonghen claimed the game's only goal with 15 minutes remaining at White Hart Lane, crisply dispatching a free-kick from Kyle Walker to register his first goal in the English top flight.
Walker had come closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, only for his rasping 25-yard drive to be parried by visiting goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel.
Tremmel also denied Jermain Defoe in the closing stages, while injury time saw England midfielder Scott Parker make his first Spurs appearance of the season after a spell on the sidelines with an Achilles problem.
Spurs had slipped out of the top four after shipping two late goals in a 2-1 loss at Everton last weekend, and Vertonghen said he was relieved that his side had held firm in the closing stages on this occasion.
"(The goal) was at the perfect time," the Belgian centre-back told Sky Sports.
"Swansea play good football, but I think we made lots of chances today. We were strong to the end, because we know what's happened in six or seven other games."
There were worrying scenes for Swansea in stoppage time when top scorer Michu was pole-axed in a collision with Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, but the Spaniard was able to return to the fray.
West Bromwich Albion host West Ham United later on Sunday, when they will attempt to halt a run of three straight defeats that has seen them slide to sixth in the table.
Sam Allardyce's West Ham began the day in 11th place but will climb to seventh if they prevail at The Hawthorns.
Leaders Manchester United preserved their six-point lead at the top of the table on Saturday, seeing off Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford after second-place Manchester City had won by the same scoreline at Newcastle United.