Tottenham’s bid for Champions League football took an almighty blow as they gave up a lead to draw 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion.
Jermain Defoe’s goal on 67 minutes looked to have earned Spurs a vital victory in their battle for fourth place, but Cox’s spectacular strike 10 minutes from time salvaged a draw for Roy Hodgson’s men on Saturday.
West Brom took an early lead through Peter Odemwingie after just five minutes but Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko slotted home on 26 minutes to equalise.
Defoe’s strike on 67 minutes was his 100th English Premier League goal and 100th for Tottenham – but it was not enough for victory – meaning Manchester City have the advantage in the fight for fourth.
There were warning signs even before Odemwingie’s opener for Roy Hodgson’s side, with Jerome Thomas going close.
But Spurs were caught napping in the early stages and, when Carlos Vela found Odemwingie, the Albion striker turned Benoit Assou-Ekotto and curled a sublime effort past Heurelho Gomes.
Assou-Ekotto had to be replaced by Sandro following his clash with Odemwingie and that resulted in Gareth Bale, the newly crowned PFA Footballer of the Year, reverting to left-back.
Bale’s attacking prowess was not blunted as a result of the switch, and his surging runs down the left caused the visitors no end of problems.
Luka Modric and Pavlyuchenko both tested Scott Carson in the visiting goal, and Spurs got the breakthrough they deserved when Pavlyuchenko’s strike rifled into the back of the net.
The Russian should have doubled his tally just minutes later, but his wayward rebound from Rafael van der Vaart’s shot soared over.
West Brom started the second half in a similar vein to the first, and only a sprawling, desperate lunge from Gomes denied Odemwingie adding his second of the game with a strong header.
Odemwingie then flashed a stinging drive just past the post as Hodgson’s men exerted maximum pressure on the Londoners.
Tottenham lacked any real impetus going forward and Harry Redknapp’s response was to introduce Aaron Lennon for the disappointing Tom Huddlestone. Lennon’s pace posed problems for the visitors and it wasn’t long before Defoe had put Spurs in front.
Darting in from deep, Defoe raced towards the edge of the area and unleashed a fine drive past Carson for his Premier League century.
Not to be denied, Cox’s wonderful effort from 20 yards flew past Gomes and stunned White Hart Lane.
Harry Redknapp looked disconsolate on the touchline in the knowledge that his side are one point behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with the Eastlands crew holding a game in hand on Spurs.
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