Lennon sends Tottenham top of the table | sports | Hindustan Times
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Lennon sends Tottenham top of the table

sports Updated: Aug 23, 2009 20:27 IST

Tottenham returned to the top of the Premier League as Aaron Lennon's strike clinched a 2-1 victory over London rivals West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday.

Even at this early stage, Harry Redknapp's team look increasingly capable of mounting a strong challenge to the top four after making their best start to a season for 49 years.

Three successive victories over Liverpool, Hull and now the Hammers have lifted them into pole position and revived memories of the last Spurs side to make such a strong opening - Bill Nicholson's 1960-61 double winners.

After falling behind to Carlton Cole's goal early in the second half, Spurs showed they may finally have the grit and determination to compete with the big guns.

Jermain Defoe punished a mistake by Cole to equalise against his old club and Lennon smashed in the winner with 11 minutes to play.

Before kick-off both sets of fans were united in showing their support for Calum Davenport, the West Ham and former Spurs defender who was in intensive care after being stabbed in the legs.

But the outbreak of understanding between two bitter enemies ended there. A fiercely fought encounter was punctuated by crunching tackles before Cole fashioned West Ham's first shot when he chased a long ball and set up a volley for himself that flew over.

Latching onto a clearance, West Ham midfielder Scott Parker almost caught out Carlo Cudicini with a 35-yard volley that the former Chelsea star scrambled to save.

West Ham were back on the attack when Jon Spector threaded a ball through and Luis Jimenez intelligently dummied to Cole, but the big targetman poked timidly at Cudicini.

Robert Green saved a fierce Tom Huddlestone effort and was left stranded when King got his head on Luka Modric's free-kick, only for the ball to bounce off the crossbar.

Modric tried his luck with a long-range effort soon after but Green was equal to the Croatian's shot.

After a tight first half, Cole broke the deadlock in the 49th minute with a ferocious half-volley.

Jimenez's header picked out Cole 25 yards from goal and the former Chelsea player took a touch before driving his shot past Cudicini.

But Cole handed Tottenham a lifeline five minutes later. There was no danger when he held the ball up near the halfway line but his pass backwards turned into a perfect through ball for Defoe.

The former Hammers striker accepted the invitation and lashed past Green for his sixth goal in four games this season for club and country.

Modric almost gave Spurs the lead shortly after but headed just wide when Lennon found him at the far post, while the hosts felt they should have had a penalty when Benoit Assou-Ekotto hauled down Jimenez.

Defoe thought he should have had a spot-kick when Julien Faubert challenged him, but Mark Clattenburg waved play on again.

Tottenham kept pressing and a moment of individual excellence from Lennon in the 79th minute proved the difference.

Lennon cut inside Spector and rifled a shot towards the far corner that Green could only help into the net.