A forensic analysis of Adebayor assisting four goals for Spurs in 2012
Harry Kane somehow managed to steal the glory from Son-Heung min with the assists for all four of his team-mate’s goals in Tottenham’s 5-2 win at Southampton in September 2020 – but he isn’t the first Spurs striker to achieve the feat.
Jose Mourinho knew the score. Interrupting Kane’s post-match interview at St Mary’s, the Portuguese manager uttered the words ‘for me, man of the match’. The Spurs skipper responded with the sort of flustered happiness of an infatuated teenager being complimented by their more popular crush.
Mourinho also interrupted Son’s interview to make the same point, which seems slightly more unnecessary, but he was right about Kane, who once again showed his playmaking ability with four assists for Son before notching a goal for himself.
It was an outstanding performance, but he is not the first Tottenham player to achieve this feat in the Premier League era.
Step forward Emmanuel Adebayor. His career at White Hart Lane may not have survived the intense demands of Mauricio Pochettino, but the Togo forward was a revelation during his initial loan spell in the 2011-12 season.
Under the management of Harry Redknapp, Tottenham entered the year 2012 looking like a decent outside bet for the title. Their endearingly rag-tag band of talent (that included Luka Modric, Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale) were arguably the Premier League’s most entertaining team of the moment. Adebayor himself was enjoying a prolific season and would end up scoring 17 goals in white.
When a decent Newcastle side, who were enjoying their best season in years, arrived in north London in early February, those expecting a close match had not reckoned with Adebayor. The man was on a mission.
His work started after only four minutes. Dribbling around two Newcastle players, and playing a one-two with Bale, Adebayor found himself in the penalty area with half the opposition defence chasing him.
Drawing four players and goalkeeper Tim Krul close, he delivered the sting of a weighted ball across the six-yard box that was walloped home by the onrushing Benoit Assou-Ekotto. As David Coleman used to say, 1-0.
A mere 120 seconds elapsed before Adebayor was rampaging away again. Set free on the right wing, he ignored the attentions of Fabricio Coloccini and whipped a teasing cross around the Argentinian defender.
As if navigated by GPS, the ball found Louis Saha (making his home debut) in the centre of the penalty area to give the Frenchman the simple task of opening his body and guiding his finish into the net.
Redknapp punched the air with the satisfaction of a man who had found a tenner in an old coat pocket. Adebayor was the catalyst for such delight.
Newcastle were already on the rack. Soon after, Coloccini had to muster all his strength to deny Adebayor getting past him again. This respite lasted only 10 minutes.
Modric combined with Assou-Ekotto on the left flank and centred a low ball into a pack of flummoxed Newcastle defenders. With his back to goal, Adebayor delicately cushioned a pass into the path of Saha who struck the ball home with aplomb.
Krul looked positively forlorn as the finish swept past him, unable to move mind or muscle in the sphere’s direction. Adebayor and Spurs were running riot by this point.
Four assists, Jeremy?
The enigmatic striker had clearly woken up on the right side of bed and had his pre-match Weetabix. Happily for all associated with Tottenham, his half’s work was not yet over.
Having contributed three sublime assists, his fourth was more fortuitous. This time, Saha turned provider and slipped a diagonal pass towards Adebayor. His shot was saved well by Krul, but Adebayor had earnt some luck.
Sat with his derriere on terra ferma, he managed to bundle the ball inelegantly to his right allowing Redknapp perennial Niko Kranjcar to hammer home. By now, the White Hart Lane crowd were in ecstasy over the sparkling attacking football on show.
Newcastle went into half time a broken team, their hopes of rising to fourth place that evening in ruins. When they emerged for the second half, their wish was merely to prevent any more damage and scarper back up north.
Adebayor had other ideas. Looking for the goal to cap his majestic performance, the man of the moment only had to wait for a further 20 minutes.
Assou-Ekotto crossed from deep, allowing Saha to nod the ball towards Adebayor, who was waiting in the six-yard box. Adjusting his body like a cautious table footballer, he was able to hoick a volley past the dispirited Krul.
Despite injuring his knee in the process, Adebayor was soon up and about again as if wanting to milk every last drop from a season-defining performance. Having perhaps decided to take mercy on Newcastle, the remainder of the game concluded uneventfully and Tottenham claimed a 5-0 victory.
Their title challenge eventually petered away with a run of spring defeats. In a development that was classic Spurs, Chelsea’s Champions League triumph meant Tottenham missed out on qualification for the competition despite finishing fourth.
However, Redknapp’s teams were undeniably fun. On this night, Adebayor personified the return of ‘glory glory’ football to White Hart Lane.
By Michael Lee