WEDNESDAY 5TH APRIL, 2017
SWANSEA CITY 1(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(0)
Referee:- Jonathan Moss
Assistants:- Simon Bennett & Edward Smart
Fourth Official:- Tim Robinson
Swansea (4-3-2-1):- Fabianksi; Naughton (sub Ki, 72), Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson; Fer, Cork (Capt.), Carroll; Routledge (sub Narsingh, 90+4), Sigurdsson; Ayew (sub McBurnie, 75)
Subs not used:- Nordfeldt; Amat, Montero; Kingsley
Booked:- Ayew (foul on Alli)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Vorm; Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen (Capt.), Davies (sub Nkoudou, 79); Dier, Dembele; Sissoko (sub Janssen, 61), Alli, Eriksen; Son (sub Trippier, 90+4)
Subs not used:- Pau Lopez; Wimmer, Carter-Vickers; Onomah
Booked:- Dier (Dissent after foul on Ki Sung-Yeung)
Never say “Dai”!
Just when it looked like Swansea would get their first Premier League win over Spurs, and that Spurs' title chase would be all but extinguished, up popped Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen to score not one, not two, but three late, late goals to seal all three points, and to drop "The Swans" back into the bottom three!
Substitute Vincent Janssen had a great impact in those late dramatic scenes too!
There were emotional scenes at The Liberty Stadium, I can tell you. It was a case of Never Say "Dai" indeed!
Spurs have also maintained their title chase of Chelsea, although the gap remains at seven points after Chelsea beat Man City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. After that defeat for City and Liverpool’s failure to beat Bournemouth at Anfield, it was another great night for Spurs, whose hold on second place was strengthened in terms of points too.
The late team news was not good for Spurs, with Hugo Lloris falling to illness after lunch (Did Spurs stay at The Marriott?), and Michel Vorm being drafted in to start only his fourth Premier league game of the season. Mauricio Pochettino reverted to 4-2-3-1 and made five changes to the starting line-up at Burnley. Two of those were enforced due to Harry Winks’ injury. Whilst I understand that Victor Wanyama did travel, he did not feature in the 18, and we must hope he is fit for Saturday lunch-time’s game at home to Watford. Kyle Walker replaced Trippier, Sissoko started on the right, and Son Heung-min got the nod in Janssen’s place. I did think that Janssen suffered a knock on Saturday, so perhaps this was another reason for Son starting.
As we all know, whilst he has scored 9 Premier league goals this season, Son is more effective as an impact substitute, as seen at Turf Moor, and he does not have Janssen’s physicality (nor that of Kane, of course) to hold the line in central attack
Swansea’s team included all four ex-Spurs in the squad, and perhaps surprisingly I would suggest that Sigurdsson had the least impact of those players.
Spurs (in their amber kit) kicked off and played away from their fans towards the South Stand of The Liberty Stadium. Son did have a shot on goal after only 36 seconds, receiving a return pass from walker before hitting a shot across goal, which was blocked and rebounded clear. After three minutes, Son made a break, and might have taken on the chance for himself, but he passed to Sissoko on his right, whose weak cross was cleared. Kyle Naughton was given space at the other end, and hit a good effort towards goal, but it passed over the target.
Swansea then won three corners in succession, all taken by Sigurdsson, but Spurs defended well, clearing the third one long, with the ball going all the way back to Fabianksi. Sissoko chased, but the former Arsenal man was first to the ball and his clearance was seized upon by Ayew, only just inside the Spurs half, with the Spurs defence moving forward quickly. I even though that Ayew might have been offside, but he was allowed a run all the way into the Spurs box, where he dummied Davies and crossed for Routledge to score from close range towards the back post. Routledge showed no restraint in his celebration of a goal against his old team, but in fairness, it was a long time ago when he was a Frank Arnesen Spurs signing, and he did not have many outings for us either.
Swansea had got the early goal they craved, and whilst they did look fast and fairly threatening on the break, they never truly bothered Vorm in the Spurs goal, and they set upon their task now of getting men behind the ball successfully holding Spurs at bay for so long. Spurs didn’t help matters with a lack of imagination and penetration where it mattered. It almost looked as if they have got so used to playing three at the back that they struggled to re-adapt to the old 4-2-3-1 template. Later in the game, when Georges-Kevin Nkoudou made his first Premier League appearance since December, Spurs did revert to 3-4-2-1, and it bore fruit in the most dramatic circumstances!
Spurs almost responded immediately to the goal when Dele Alli received Dier’s pass and tried a clever overhead kick which passed wide of the Swansea goal. Ayew soon saw yellow for bringing down Dele , who was banging the ground in pain, but carried on after a pause without needing treatment. Spurs had lots of possession, but there was no end product.
Dier sent a ball to Sissoko, but he could not control the ball. Tom Carroll stole the ball off Eriksen in midfield, and sent a good pass to Ayew who was again giving the Spurs defence something to worry about, without getting a shot on goal here. Spurs responded with a ball from deep in their half to Eriksen, who sent Son away. Son got his shot in, but it was wide across goal. Having started on the right, Sissoko had now switched to the left side, as Spurs tried to mix it up in attack. Walker, Dembele and Alli were all involved in a move which ended with Son’s cross being held by Fabianski. Eriksen’s pass to Davies on the left was sent inside for Son, but his shot was blocked and ran out off his feet for a goal kick.
In the first minute after the break, Carroll sent in a low and powerful cross, and Swansea’s fans bayed for a penalty when Ayew went down under challenge, but referee Jon Moss waved play-on. To his credit, Mr. Moss wanted the game to flow as much as possible, and both team benefitted from his reluctance to call stoppages. At the other end, Eriksen chipped a ball to Davies, who headed the ball across the area for Son, who fired goalward. Fernandez was very close and Son wanted a handball, but didn’t get the decision. He and the Swansea defender then had a brief “face-off”. A decent shot by Dembele was deflected for a Spurs corner, but that was cleared.
Naughton had his head in his hands at the other end, having been given a good chance on the right, but his shot was blocked and won a corner. Eric Dier tried a shot with his right foot from some 30 yards, but this passed wide of Fabianski’s left post. So far, Fabianski had not been required to make a save. Now Sissoko was replaced by Janssen, whose name had been called for by Spurs fans as early as the first half. Janssen’s presence allowed Son to move to the flank where he has more effect. A Dele Alli touch of magic inside the box after Eriksen’s ball won a corner, but nothing came of that. Dele and Davies combined to give Son a good chance, but he failed to control the ball and get in a shot.
Naughton was replaced by Ki Sung-Yeung and Fer moved to right back. This change, which I believe was enforced due to a knock to Naughton, ultimately had a negative effect upon Swansea’s chances. Jordan Ayew was replaced by 20 year old Ollie McBurnie who got a big cheer when he came on and an even bigger cheer when with his first touches he forced an attack which gave Alderweireld and Vertonghen work to do. Ben Davies was replaced by Nkoudou after 79 minutes when Alderweireld, Dier and Vertonghen formed the three-man back line for Spurs. Spurs attacked Swansea in waves, and whilst time was slipping away, I always felt that at least one goal was on the cards for Spurs, but of course we wanted more.
More was what we got, and firstly Janssen had a shot at Fabianski from short range which the goalkeeper blocked at personal expense. The goalkeeper’s bravery had brought him injury worries, and it looked as if he was going to be stretchered off, but ultimately he regained his feet, costing his side minutes of added time in the process, which would prove fateful. There was to be a touch of farce a few minutes later when Swansea had their substitute goalkeeper Nordfeldt stripped down and wanted to change Fabianksi. The goalkeeper protested at the idea, and seemed to relay his insistence to stay on via the referee who ran to the touchline. Fabianski got his way. Before that he had been threatened by an Alderweireld shot after Son’s pass, and he had made a great save from a Dele Alli header following Eriksen’s chipped ball.
Spurs equalised in the 88th minute, giving their fans a massive boost, and even a sigh of relief. Kyle Walker had passed inside and an attempted clearance fell to Eriksen. Eriksen's cross took a slight deflection, but Dele Alli had anticipated the path of the ball and at the back post he gleefully fired home from close range for his 15th league goal of the season. Dele is catching Harry Kane and is level with Aguero in the goal scoring chart! Next Dele gave Janssen a chance and his shot was well saved by Fabianski towards the right of his goal.
No less than seven minutes of added time were indicated, and in the first of those minutes, Spurs had the lead! Swansea were crumbling under the Spurs pressure, and Eriksen, then Janssen (with a delightful flicked pass on the turn into Son's path) provided the passes which ended with a close range goal by Son. There was ecstasy in the stands! Pochettino brought on Trippier for Son to firm up the defence of that precious lead, but Spurs made it 3-1 in the fourth minute of added time with Dele and Eriksen breaking forward. Dele made a great pass from the left to Eriksen in the middle. Eriksen dropped his shouder and deceived the defender before picking his spot scoring low with a good shot past the keeper.
For at least the third time this season, Spurs had chartered a train for their fans, but it would not be leaving for London till 11.30pm. There would be plenty of celebrating by one set of fans in Swansea before then! Spurs are five points ahead of third-placed Liverpool, and no less than seven ahead of Man City. Arsenal and Man Utd are no less than 11 points behind us. Whilst Chelsea hold onto that seven point lead and remain firm favourites for the title, Spurs are at least hot favourites to be their closest rivals, and fellow Champions League campaigners next season!
Our ace statistician Declan Mulcahy has already done some quick research of similar late scoring feats by Spurs, and I will include some of that information in tomorrow’s Premier League review, but Declan reckons this was our best late scoring achievement in Premier League history.
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