SATURDAY 4th FEBRUARY, 2017
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0) MIDDLESBROUGH 0(0)
Kane (pen), 58
Attendance:- 31, 949
Referee:- Mark Clattenburg
Assistants:- J. Collin & R. West
Fourth official:- J. Moss
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Davies; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli (sub Winks, 88), Son (sub Sissoko, 81); Kane (sub Janssen, 90+3)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Wimmer, Carter-Vickers; Onomah
Middlesbrough (4-2-3-1):- Valdes; Chambers, Espinosa, Gibson (Capt.) Fabio; Clayton, de Roon; Traore (sub Bamford, 79), Forshaw (sub Gudioura, 62), Downing (sub Stuani, 62); Negredo
Subs not used:- Guzan; Ayala;Leadbitter, Gestede
Booked:- de Roon (foul on Alli)
Ultimately, a good day at the office.
As we enter the business end of the season, any win is precious, and whilst the score line was not emphatic, there is no doubt that Spurs deserved their win, obtained thanks to a solitary goal from the penalty spot by Harry Kane. It would have been nice if both Chelsea and Arsenal could have lost points, but defeat for Arsenal, and more surprisingly for Liverpool means that Spurs are secure in second place for another week. Manchester City could go within a point of us with a win tomorrow, but Spurs will travel to Anfield next Saturday feeling more confident than their hosts.
Mauricio made the anticipated changes, with Hugo Lloris back in goal and Ben Davies replacing the injured Danny Rose. Otherwise the team was unchanged from Tuesday's game at Sunderland, although the midfield three were switched with Son playing primary on the left. This worked well for Spurs, with Davies playing a more withdrawn role, and Son attacking Arsenal loanee Calum Chambers down the left side. Son was often the recipient of strongly hit passes from Mousa Dembele, but he didn't always make the best of his opportunities as has been seen so often. It does have to be said however that Son did have an impactive game, especially since he won the decisive penalty in the second half.
Middlesbrough matched Spurs' 4-2-3-1 formation, but they didn't muster a shot on target, spending a lot of the game forming a defensive dome as seen in Tuesday at The Stadium of Light.
Once again, Spurs dominated possession, but they didn't test goalkeeper Valdes enough. Dele Alli threaded a ball to Harry Kane within two minutes of the start, but Kane had been called offside. Spurs had kicked off and played towards the Park Lane Stand. Middlesbrough responded when Traore crossed from the right and Negredo headed over from the back of the box.
Son was found with space on the left of the area after only four minutes, and really should have done better with the goal at his mercy, but his shot allowed Valdes to make a save to his left. Davies got well forward next, but hit his cross too deep to cause trouble.
Eriksen won a corner and ultimately Dele Alli had a chance at the back post, hitting the side netting, but also getting called offside. Good play by Wanyama in the Spurs half allowed a breakaway attack with Son sending Alli away down the left side. Alli's shot/cross was cleared.
Following a Middlesbrough free kick on the left, Forshaw did have a shot on goal, but this was no problem for Lloris. Son was in space down the left side, but hit his cross too deep. Kyle Walker caused danger with a cross from near the bye-line, but this was cleared.
After two Spurs corners, both taken by Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld met the ball at the near post and hit the outside of Valdes' right post with his header. Son won another corner taken by Eriksen. This was punched clear by Valdes but only as far as Walker whose cross was met by Harry Kane's header which passed just over the bar.
Referee Mark Clattenburg did his best to allow play to run smoothly, and kept his cards in his pocket with one exception. He had words with Adam Clayton after a challenge upon Dele, and booked de Roon for another foul on Dele.
After a Spurs free kick, Dembele fed Son with what became a trademark pass throughout the game. Son had loads of room, but hit his shot woefully wide of the target. Dembele himself tried a shot from distance after passes by Walker and Wanyama. This effort was wide of Valdes' left post.
Harry Kane had the ball in the net after another Dembele-Son move, but he had been flagged offside. A Wanyama shot led to a corner, taken by Eriksen, but headed into the goalkeeper's hands by Alderweireld. Another Kane header led to an added time corner, but Spurs went in at half-time still level,
Son, Eriksen and Kane led an early second half attack, but Harry did not make the most of the opportunity given. For a while Son switched to the right side, with Eriksen operating left of Dele. Kane and Son made a break and gave Eriksen a shot on goal, but Valdes pushed the ball round his left post.
After 56 minutes, Middlesbrough finally succumbed as Alli pushed the ball to Son inside the box on the left side. Espinosa Bernardo hauled Son down and there was little, if any, protest from "Boro" over Mark Clattenburg's penalty decision. Harry Kane sent Valdes the wrong way as he confidently placed the kick inside the keeper's left post.
Within two minutes of taking the lead, Son, Kane and Eriksen were breaking away for Spurs, and Eriksen had a shot saved.
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Aranka started making changes after going a goal down, with Stewart Downing the first to be replaced, by Stuani. Forshaw was replaced by Guedioura.
Spurs moved the ball from the back through Dembele and Alli, before Son had a shot go wide from the left side, having reverted to his previous position. A deep cross by Son reached Kyle Walker on th right side, but his cross was held by Valdes. Another Spurs attack started from deep, this time with Wanyama the instigator abetted by Kane and Alli. Eriksen mis-timed his attempted shot.
Traore was replaced by Patrick Bamford, until recently a perpetual Chelsea loanee player, but signed by "Boro" in January. Son was replaced for Spurs by Sissoko.
Wanyama started another Spurs move with Alli feeding Eriksen, who should have done better.
Former Manchester United full back Fabio da Silva came into the game more in the latter stages, sending over several dangerous crosses. From one such ball Negredo had a decent scissor kick attempt which passed wide of the far post. From another Fabio cross, Lloris punched the ball as far as Bamford, whose attempt on goal was deflected for a Middlesbrough corner. De Roon had "Boro"'s best chance in added time with a shot at the back post which he pulled wide.
Middlesbrough find themselves well and truly sucked into the fight against relegation with Hull and Sunderland getting great results today.
In truth, Spurs face a tough task trying to claw back the 9 point deficit behind Chelsea, but there is no reason why they cannot keep their place in the top four, and even better second or third place.
Next week's game at Anfield promises to be a cracker!
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