Fresh off a battering at the hands of Manchester City in midweek, Tottenham Hotspur dropped points again. This time, it was at the KC Stadium against Hull City, where a Paulinho smash cancelled out a first-half goal from Shane Long in a 1-1 draw that will leave the Tigers far happier than their guests.
Long's goal did not come as a complete surprise. There were warning signs early on when Nikica Jelavic met Tom Huddlestone's diagonal with an improvised flick that sailed over Hugo Lloris and ended up on the roof of the net, but Spurs' defence remained slightly confused throughout. They were punished in short order.
Seconds after saving well from Emmanuel Adebayor, Steve Harper sparked the Tigers' attack into life with a hopeful punt upfield. Jelavic beat Danny Rose in the air, flicking forward for Long while Tottenham's centre backs dallied, and suddenly the striker was through on goal. All that was left was the finish -- and it came crisp and cool to give Hull the lead.
The visitors had a few chances to get back into the match. While their defence seemed utterly unsure of themselves, Spurs' attack under Tim Sherwood was as free-flowing as ever, and they looked very dangerous in the final third. Roberto Soldado had claims for a penalty turned down after catching Maynor Figueroa dallying with possession in his own box, and in the second half the former Valencia man had a point-blank shot well-saved when he might have done better.
Eventually, they were going to score, and score they did. Rose blasted the ball seemingly aimlessly into the Hull box, and miraculously the ball fell to Paulinho. The Brazilian's first touch was perfect, allowing him to turn and get a shot away. It was a fine shot, too, screaming into the roof of the net even though Harper got a fingertip to it. Despite the slew of defensive miscues, Spurs were level.
The hosts came close to an immediate reply. The combination of Jelavic and Long hooked up again, with Long evading the attentions of Jan Vertonghen and curling a tempting cross toward the far post. His strike partner met the ball crisply, but his strike was just kept out by a combination of Lloris and the goalpost. Jelavic came close yet again five minutes later when he dinked a through ball past the goalkeeper only to see Michael Dawson clear it off the line.
Both sides had chances to claim the points as time wound down, but the ball simply refused to go in again. Hull will surely be happy with the point, Spurs less so -- the chase for fourth is looking fiendishly difficult at this point.
Hull City starting lineup (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Maynor Figueroa, Paul McShane, Curtis Davies. Liam Rosenior; Roberty Brady (George Boyd 70'), Tom Huddlestone, David Meyler, Ahmed Elmohamady (Robert Koren 70'); Shane Long, Nikica Jelavic (Yannick Sagbo 88').
Goals: Long 13'.
Tottenham Hotspur starting lineup (4-4-2): Hugo Lloris; Danny Rose, Jan Vertonghen, Michael Dawson, Kyle Walker; Christian Eriksen, Paulinho, Nabil Bentaleb, Aaron Lennon; Roberto Soldado, Emmanuel Adebayor (Harry Kane 90').
Goals: Paulinho 61'.