Match report: Tottenham 3-1 Reading

Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor headed in Aaron Lennon's cross to put Spurs into the lead. Photo: PA

Aaron Lennon put in one of his best performances in a Tottenham shirt as Andre Villas-Boas' men moved up to third in the Barclays Premier League with victory over Reading.

Tottenham were caught cold in the fourth minute when Pavel Pogrebnyak scored in his second successive game, but the lead lasted just over four minutes.

The impressive Gylfi Sigurdsson crossed for Michael Dawson to score his first league goal since February 2011 and Spurs then took control of the game in the second half thanks in no small part to the influence of Lennon.

With Gareth Bale out of the team through suspension, Lennon was give the chance to take centre stage and he grasped it with both hands.

The England winger, who gave veteran defender Ian Harte no end of trouble all afternoon, crossed to allow Emmanuel Adebayor to put Spurs ahead in the second half and Clint Dempsey's deflected effort 11 minutes from time sealed the win.

Villas-Boas, who struggled to win over the Spurs support at the start of the season, begins 2013 ahead of Chelsea - the club who sacked him in March.

The Blues have two games in hand, but Villas-Boas will be encouraged about his team's chances of making the top four this term by the way they have played of late.

A Spurs win did not seem on the cards at the start as Tottenham started poorly.

Just three minutes had passed when Kyle Naughton fouled Pogrebnyak 20 yards out. Harte's powerful free-kick cannoned back off the bar and the former Fulham man pounced on the loose ball, heading home from eight yards.

The goal sparked Tottenham into life and they immediately went on the attack through Lennon, who crossed for Adebayor but he headed wide.

Reading fans derided the Togo marksman for missing but they soon fell quiet after Spurs equalised.

Less than five minutes after going behind, Dawson out-jumped his marker to meet Sigurdsson's corner and glance the ball past Adam Federici.

Sigurdsson, clearly keen to impress against his former club, saw a deflected shot whistle past the post before Mousa Dembele went close from 20 yards.

Spurs dominated the game but could not find their way past Federici.

Jermain Defoe and Sandro tested the Australian from long range while Reading offered little down the other end.

The Londoners were missing Bale, who was suspended for diving, and most of their threatening play went through Defoe or the lively Lennon down the right.

Defoe almost put Spurs ahead just before the break when he turned on the pace to skip past his marker, but his dipping shot drifted barely an inch wide of the Reading goal.

The hosts emerged with much more purpose after the break, attacking Reading from the off.

And they got their reward just six minutes into the second half when Lennon left Harte for dead and crossed to the back post, where Adebayor beat Alex Pearce in the air and headed past Federici.

Tottenham's morale lifted having gone in front and they set about killing the game off.

Sandro blasted another long-range effort just wide and the irresistible Lennon had a deflected shot loop over the bar after a thundering break.

Lennon continued to make Harte's life a misery down the Tottenham right flank. With just over 20 minutes left the England winger sprinted past the Irishman and laid the ball off to Defoe but he could only shoot a yard wide.

Sigurdsson was the next Spurs man to come close, shooting an inch wide after bursting forward from the halfway line.

That was to be the Icelandic forward's final contribution to the game as he was replaced by Clint Dempsey to a standing ovation.

Given Tottenham's propensity for conceding late goals, the atmosphere turned tense inside White Hart Lane as the home side dropped deep.

Pogrebnyak took advantage of a slip from Jan Vertonghen and charged at Hugo Lloris. The Frenchman palmed Pogrebnyak's shot straight back into the path of the Russian but he headed terribly wide.

Jimmy Kebe then punctured the Tottenham defence, breaking through to latch on to Adam Le Fondre's pass, but Kyle Walker tracked back to put in a brilliant crunching tackle.

Any chance of Tottenham yielding the three points were dashed in the 79th minute, however, when Dempsey's 20-yard shot looped over the unfortunate Federici.

Only an acrobatic save from Federici stopped substitute Scott Parker from registering his first goal of the season in the dying minutes as Tottenham strolled to their seventh win in nine matches.