Tottenham 2 Birmingham City 3
Napoleon Bonaparte's claim that he would rather have a lucky general than a good one will resonate with the Birmingham City board. Alex McLeish's first Birmingham City team were extremely fortunate to leave North London with three points.
The first Premier League goal of Gary McSheffrey's career, an unusually incisive finish from Cameron Jerome and a stoppage-time howitzer from Sebastian Larsson made sure Blues opened the new era with their fourth win of the season. Incredibly, they are now 12th in the League.
Just to help, Tottenham had goal-scorer Robbie Keane sent off for a peevish challenge on Fabrice Muamba and missed a bucketful of chances in both halves to lose a game in which they could have been 3-0 up inside the first quarter.
But this result cannot be put down to luck alone. Birmingham were supremely organised, demonstrated resolve that made a mockery of their recent league record and took their chances well.
That it took a wonder strike from Larsson to secure the points only made the victory more enjoyable but in truth by the time the former Arsenal man lashed the ball past Paul Robinson two minutes into added time, Blues were by far the better team.
In the last five minutes, substitutes Olivier Kapo and Mikael Forssell were only denied by an outstanding reflex save from Robinson and his crossbar respectively. By the time the final whistle went, it was the visitors who looked the more composed outfit.
McLeish's role should not be under-estimated. Where many managers would have shut up shop after Jerome had made it 2-2 on the hour, 'Big Eck' went for the jugular and made two attacking substitutions. His bravery deserved some luck. How Steve Bruce must have been cursing his.
The Scotsman's first act as Birmingham manager was to restore common sense to the club's goalkeeping situation by replacing Richard Kingson, whose dreadful error gifted Portsmouth the lead last week, with the experienced Maik Taylor.
Up front, he followed Bruce's preference for Jerome as a single striker and controversially top scorer Kapo was sitting next to the Finn, with Larsson recalled to the starting line-up in his place.
It gave Birmingham more strength through the middle but still not enough to disrupt the hosts who, in the first half, flowed forward in wave after wave.
Whether it was a long ball humped forward, Gareth Bale down the left or Aaron Lennon down the right, Tottenham had options all over the pitch and produced a string of chances and seven corners.
McSheffrey's penalty aside, Birmingham barely produced anything in the opening 45 minutes. Jerome went in at the break barefoot, having worked off both his socks and his boots, but to little effect.
His defensive team-mates were considerably more busy. Liam Ridgewell and defensive partner Johan Djourou were under constant pressure and well though they played for the most part, they afforded Darren Bent a number of free knockdowns.
That invited Keane into the game. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City striker had a constant supply of possession and the space to use it. Indeed, he should have put the hosts ahead in the tenth minute when Bent nodded the ball back into his path and then played a clever one-two that released his partner in the box. The Irishman nutmegged Liam Ridgewell but blazed high with just Taylor to beat.
Dimitar Berbatov nearly produced the opening goal in the 20th minute when Taylor smothered his shot and was relieved to see the rebound off Ridgewell dribble wide. Fortune was even smiling on the Blues captain. But Taylor's best save came just short of the half-hour after Muamba had given away a free-kick on the edge of his area.
It was in the perfect position for Bale to curl into the top left-hand corner. It looked as though he'd done exactly that until the Northern Ireland international flew across to tip wide, making the sort of save many of his detractors feel is beyond him.
But despite their lack of bite, Blues took the lead. Mehdi Nafti did well to dispossess Keane on halfway and when play reached Larsson, the young Swede found McSheffrey bursting into the Spurs area.
Younes Kaboul came across to cover but tripped the midfielder. Referee Phil Dowd had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and McSheffrey had no hesitation in smearing the ball straight through Robinson. But within four minutes of the restart, with Juande Ramos having made his customary change of formation, the charm that guarded Birmingham's goal finally wore off.
Tom Huddlestone and Jermain Defoe slotted into a 3-5-2 formation and it was the former's tackle on Muamba that allowed Didier Zokora to release Berbatov. Djourou tracked back but, in his enthusiasm to clear the danger, clipped the forward's heels. Again, Dowd awarded the penalty without second thought.
Keane stepped up and converted clinically. His contact for his second goal wasn't quite as sweet, but his volley from Huddlestone's diagonal pass bounced down into the turf and up over Taylor.
At that point, it looked as though a brave performance would go unrewarded but that was to under-estimate Jerome's energy and McLeish's positivity.
The 21-year-old collected a loose ball in midfield, surged forward, turned inside Zokora and stroked his shot past Robinson. Two chances had produced two goals. Keane's red card swung the game City's way and, for the last 20 minutes, they posed as much threat as the home side. For that, McLeish must take credit.
Scorers: McSheffrey (24) 0-1; Keane (49) 1-1; Keane (52) 2-1; Jerome (61) 2-2; Larsson (90) 2-3.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-3-3, 3-5-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Dawson, Kaboul (Huddlestone, 45), Bale (Lee, 74); Lennon, Zokora, Malbranque; Keane, Berbatov, Bent (Defoe, 45). Subs: Cerny, Boateng.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-5-1): Taylor; Kelly, Djourou, Ridgewell, Schmitz (Parnaby, 61); De Ridder (Forssell, 65), Larsson, Muamba, Nafti, McSheffrey (Kapo, 77); Jerome. Subs: Doyle, O'Connor
Referee: Phil Dowd (Stoke-on-Trent).
Booking: Birmingham - Schmitz (foul).
Sending-Off: Tottenham — Keane (violent conduct).
Blues man of the match: Sebastian Larsson — industrious at both ends of the field and then produced the goal of the season