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English Premiership

Defoe fires Spurs into fifth round

LEEDS, February 4- Jermain Defoe spared his own blushes and those of Tottenham Hotspur with a hat-trick at Elland Road to overcome brave Leeds and book a place in the FA Cup fifth round at the second time of asking with a 3-1 win here on Wednesday.
England striker Defoe missed a host of good chances but still managed to come up trumps for the Premier League side with strikes in the 37th and 73rd minutes before putting the result beyond all doubt in the fourth minute of stoppage time to take his tally for the season to 22 goals.

Luciano Becchio had equalised for Leeds on the stroke of half-time as Simon Grayson’s League One side threatened to pull off another shock in front of a partisan home crowd.

But Defoe secured a trip for Tottenham to top-flight rivals Bolton in the last 16 and ended the Cup dreams of Leeds, who had knocked Manchester United at Old Trafford out of the competition in stunning style in the previous round.

"That was a difficult game," Defoe told ITV Sport. "Away from home it was a great performance from the lads."

David Bentley, who has struggled to nail down a place in Spurs’ starting line-up, orchestrated the visitors’ victory and Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp said: "He has come back and taken his opportunity.

"He has shown what a good player he is in the last couple of games and he needs to keep on doing that."

Meanwhile, Leeds boss Grayson was in upbeat mood despite the defeat.

"We’ve just said to the players we’ve got to take a lot positives. We have given Tottenham two good games.

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"Our main aim is to get promotion and play in front of 30,000 every week."

Tottenham arrived at Elland Road in confident mood as well, having lost just one of their last 10 games in all competitions.

But Redknapp’s starting line-up proved just how much he respected Leeds after their 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane despite 42 league places separating the two clubs.

But it was Tottenham who dominated the first half and they would have been home and hosed before the interval had it not been for some woeful finishing from Defoe, who could have had a first half hat-trick.

Defoe pounced on a weak back header from Andrew Hughes in the first minute but fluffed his shot badly.

He then seized on a clever chest down from Peter Crouch only to see his instant strike fly inches wide.

Worse was to follow from Defoe, who found himself clean through on goal thanks to Jermaine Jenas’s hopeful pass in the 24th minute but with just Casper Ankergren to beat he was unable to get the better of the Danish goalkeeper.

Leeds’ luck ran out in the 37th minute when Defoe latched onto Bentley’s cross and turned sharply, only for his shot to slice luckily beyond Ankergren and into the top corner.

But Leeds, whose resilience was a feature of their Cup run, hauled themselves level when Heurelho Gomes could only palm Jermaine Beckford’s instant volley straight into the path of Becchio, who shot into an open goal.

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Defoe blazing just over the crossbar and fellow England forward Crouch wasted Niko Kranjcar’s cross when it seemed easier to score.

Ankergren produced another stunning save to tip over Michael Dawson’s glancing header just before the hour mark before doing the same to a powerful drive from the impressive Bentley as Leeds hung on.

But he was powerless to prevent Bentley’s cross from finding Defoe in the 73rd minute and this time the forward made no mistake before adding a third in stoppage time.

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