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Football | Barclays Premier League

Spurs frustrated in Stoke stalemate



Tottenham slipped down to fifth place in the Premier League after being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Stoke at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

Andre Villas-Boas's side could have gone third with a victory but instead they dropped out of the Champions League places after a dour encounter.

Villas-Boas and his assistant Steffen Freund regularly complained about the physicality of Stoke, who had four players booked, but the visitors, well marshalled by defenders Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth, were worth a draw.

Even Gareth Bale, returning to the Tottenham side after his hamstring injury, couldn't break down the Stoke back-four and Tony Pulis's team, who have kept nine clean sheets this season, have now gone eight matches unbeaten.

Just 45 seconds had gone before Kyle Walker's wayward pass let in Kenwyne Jones, but the Stoke striker lost his balance and could only shoot over.

Stoke threatened again when Steven N'Zonzi fed Jones on the counter-attack and the forward's shot beat Hugo Lloris, only for Sandro to clear off the line.

Tottenham sparked into life when Bale put in one of his trademark lung-busting runs and beat his marker, but Shawcross cleared before Jermain Defoe could tap in.

Spurs went close to breaking the deadlock just before the break through Mousa Dembele, who fired just over the bar.

Pulis was on his feet moaning at Bale just before the hour when the Welshman, often criticised for diving, went to ground in an attempt to win a free-kick just outside the box.

Bale almost gave the perfect response when he leapt to meet Aaron Lennon's cross, but he could only head over.

Long range efforts from Bale and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson failed to trouble Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as the visitors dug in.

Sigurdsson had Spurs' best chance to win it in stoppage-time, however Begovic pulled off a world-class save and the hosts had to settle for a point.

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