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Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009

Defoe on fire as Spurs blast nine past Wigan

LONDON (AP) Jermain Defoe scored five goals including a seven-minute hat trick as Tottenham overwhelmed Wigan 9-1 on Sunday while Blackburn ended a run of five straight away defeats with a 2-0 victory at Bolton.

After Peter Crouch had given Spurs a ninth-minute lead at White Hart Lane, Defoe took over with three strikes between the 51st and 58th minutes as Spurs went on to tie Manchester United's Premier League record nine goals in a 9-0 victory over Ipswich in March 1995.

Aaron Lennon scored Spurs' fifth, Defoe netted again in the 69th and 87th. Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland scored an own goal and Niko Kranjcar added another in the final minute.

Paul Scharner replied for Wigan when Spurs were already three goals up and the Austrian appeared to control the ball with his hands before scoring.

Defoe tied the Premier League record for most goals in a game, matching Alan Shearer's five for Newcastle against Sheffield Wednesday in September 1999 and Andy Cole for United in the game against Ipswich.

"It did cross my mind whether I was going to get another (hat trick). I had another good chance but you can't complain getting five goals," Defoe said.

"Even if you just win games it brings gets confidence but to score nine goals in one game is fantastic for everyone."

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp paid tribute to his strikers.

"You don't get too many nines in the Premier League," Redknapp said.

"In the second half we took some great goals and their 'keeper made some great saves as well. I knew Defoe would be a real handful today but all the strikers have been in great form."

Henry considered exit

PARIS (AP) Thierry Henry says the outcry over his handball in France's World Cup playoff against Ireland pushed him to the brink of international retirement.

French sports daily L'Equipe quoted the Barcelona striker in an interview as saying he felt abandoned and deeply upset by the virulent criticism he received from former players and politicians.

Henry's handball before passing for defender William Gallas to score helped give France a 1-1 draw with Ireland and a 2-1 win on aggregate, advancing the team to next year's tournament in South Africa.

"The day after the match and the next day, I felt alone, really alone," said Henry, adding that he gave serious thought about quitting the French team. "Oh, yes I did. Friday, when everything had gone too far, I was very worked up."

After receiving criticism from former players such as former Ireland and Marseille striker Tony Cascarino and French sports minister Roselyne Bachelot, Henry said it was his friends and family who talked him out of retiring from international soccer.

"Despite everything that happened, the fact I felt abandoned, I will not drop my country," he said. "I asked myself the question. Without the support of my loved ones, maybe I wouldn't have thought the same way. Now, I've decided — I'll always fight until the end.

"It's been very hard, everything started from something that happens in a game and it went too far. I heard some people giving lectures about this, when I said I was sorry, on the pitch and off it."

Henry received criticism for wildly celebrating Gallas' goal in front of the Irish players.

"I shouldn't have done that. But honestly, it was uncontrollable . . . Yes, I regret that," he said.

However, Henry dodged the issue of whether he should have immediately told referee Martin Hansson he had handled the ball.

"I was in a no-win situation," he said, adding that the incident will not overshadow his whole career.

"I don't think that everything I've achieved can be tarnished."

Juve beats Udinese

ROME (AP) Fabio Grosso's 51st-minute strike gave Juventus a 1-0 victory over injury-depleted Udinese, keeping the Turin club within five points of Serie A leader Inter Milan.



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