FRIDAY 26TH DECEMBER, 2019
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(0) BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION 1(1)
Referee:- Graham Scott
Assistants:- Neil Davies, Mark Scholes
Fourth official:- Tim Robinson
VAR:- Mike Dean
Assistant VAR:- Constantine Hatzidakis
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Gazzaniga; Aurier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Sissoko, Winks (sub Eriksen, 68); Lucas Moura (sub Dier, 76), Dele, Sessegnon (sub Lo Celso, 56); Kane (Capt.)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Foyth, Tanganga; Lamela
Booked:- Winks (foul on Schelotto), Sanchez (foul on Connolly), Lucas Moura (foul on Gross), Sissoko (foul on Burn)
Brighton (4-2-3-1):- Ryan; Webster, Duffy, Burn, Bernardo (sub Trossard, 76); Alzate, Stephens (Capt.); Schelotto (sub Bissouma, 83), Gross, Mooy; Connolly (sub Maupay, 68)
Subs not used:- Button; Montoya, Propper; Murray
Booked:- Burn (foul on Lucas Moura), Gross (foul on Kane)
Spurs win with quality goal
With Brighton leading at half time (and deservedly so), it looked as if Spurs might fall to a first Boxing Day defeat since 2003 (at Portsmouth) and a first home Boxing Day defeat since 1991. Adam Webster had given the visitors a 37th minute lead after a Harry Kane “goal” had been chalked off for one of those most marginal VAR decisions. With Harry Winks starting next to Sissoko, rather than Dier, and with the continuing absence of playmaker Eriksen from a Spurs starting line-up, Spurs lacked the creative spark in the first half and also lacked effort. Jose Mourinho upped the ante in the second half with greater energy offered in all departments which was rewarded with two goals, the second of which had great quality in both its build-up and in its sublime finish by Dele Alli.
Both sides lined up nominally as a 4-2-3-1, but at times at the back both had five across the back line. Aurier got forward plenty of times for Spurs, as is their current style, but Brighton were getting both Schelotto and Bernardo forward down the flanks. With Aaron Mooy pulling the strings down the inside left and left positions and Gross and Alazate getting forward in the middle, the “Seagulls” offered plenty for Spurs to think about. They’ve offered several good teams tough games this season. Captain Dale Stephens won the toss and turned Spurs round so they were playing towards the “White Wall” of the South Stand in the first half. The stadium was fairly full given the difficulties faced by many supporters with little public transport available on this Bank Holiday. Spurs kicked off and the game was played almost entirely in persistent rain.
Brighton had the first chance after 4 minutes when Bernardo crossed from the left and Spurs failed to clear with Alazate hitting a right footed shot wide. Spurs responded with a cross from the right by Kane which was met at the back post by Ryan Sessegnon, whose effort was smothered. Sessegnon was making his first Premier League start for Spurs, and this was his most prominent moment. Aurier showed skill on the right to get into a crossing position, but when his cross was delivered the Brighton defence cleared. Sessegnon was onto a long ball by Alderweireld, but the offside flag had already been raised when Ryan hit the post with his shot.
Brighton were on the attack at the other end through gross and Alzate and Paulo Gazzaniga could only parry Alzate’s shot, but the ball did run clear. Dele Alli had half a chance following a ball by Winks but Matty Ryan had no trouble collecting the ball. Mooy had a shot go wide when Brighton attacked after Sissoko had failed to properly clear from deep in midfield.
Harry Kane’s “goal” followed a long ball by Winks, and had been a terrific finish to the left of Ryan. Both teams were assembled and ready for kick-off by the time VAR Mike Dean denied Spurs the lead with that marginal offside decision. As usual, we had all celebrated and felt deflated. Lucas Moura hit a left foot shot wide of Ryan’s right post, and after a foul on Lucas by Burn outside the area Harry Kane’s free kick was blocked. Lucas was fouled again after Spurs broke forward following another Brighton attack. Dele had been his provider. This kick was taken by Jan Vertonghen and Sissoko was offside. The referee allowed play-on as Brighton responded and Harry Winks was booked for a foul no the advancing Schelotto down the right wing. That booking means Winks will be suspended from tomorrow’s game at Norwich. Gross crossed and Webster rose to power a header past Gazzaniga. That was Webster’s third goal of the season.
Brighton had another chance after a corner and another cross by Gross. Bernardo headed this one down but the ball was held by Gazzaniga getting down to his right. Spurs won a corner after a cross by Vertonghen and exchanged passes between Sissoko and Aurier. It was Sissoko’s cross that went out for a corner, with nothing coming from the situation for Spurs.
Brighton kicked off the second half, but Spurs had new energy and determination and won an early corner (taken by Lucas Moura) after Harry Kane and Dele Alli threatened. However, Connolly (who had last scored when his two goals helped Brighton to beat Spurs in October) had a great chance to pout his team two up with a header which he out over the target after Bernardo’s cross.
Spurs did equalise with an emphatic strike by Captain Kane. The goal followed hard work by Lucas Moura in the middle, but the ball ran to Kane off a Brighton defender. Harry’s first shot was well saved by Ryan, but the Spurs leader hit a powerful right foot shot inside the keeper’s right post for Premier league goal number 135 and club goal number 180! It was also Harry’s eighth Premier League goal in five Boxing Day games and his 26th Premier League goal scored in December. The skipper waved his team back to the centre circle urging them to get on with the game.
Mourinho’s first change was to replace Sessegnon with Lo Celso who had a very impressive 35 minutes playing clever balls and skilful touches. Sissoko challenged hard for the ball and passed to Kane, but the goalkeeper successfully blocked any chance of a shot on goal. Winks was adjudged to have committed a foul just outside the “D” but escaped further sanction from the referee. Pascal gross hit the free kick which Gazzaniga saved well.
Brighton coach Graham Potter made his first change replacing Connolly with Maupay. Jose took off Winks in favour of Eriksen, who was soon to have a positive effect when the winning goal was scored. Lucas Moura had been busy again towards the left side. Kane fed the ball to Eriksen who was in a pivotal position. Eriksen quickly hit a ball out to Aurier on the right. Aurier delivered to Dele with one touch and Dele delivered a sublime lobbed finish passing across goal over the keeper and into the net in the far corner! The goal was a thing of great beauty!
Mourinho made his final change with Eric Dier replacing Lucas Moura. Dier played next to Sissoko and Eriksen moved forward. Brighton substitute Trossard delivered a cross from the left and Gazzaniga saved Gross’s shot with a dive to his right. There was tension as Brighton were desperately trying to get back on terms and Spurs had plenty of defending to do. Sissoko was booked for a foul on Burn and he too will be suspended for the Norwich game.
Spurs had a couple more chances. The first fell to Kane as he moved in from the left and hit a right foot shot over the bar. Then he and Dele combined with Ryan just getting a fingertip to Dele’s shot. Eriksen had a shot blocked after good work by Lo Celso and Sissoko on the right. Spurs moved back into fifth place (Wolves still have to play Man City tonight), and are three points behind Chelsea who lost at home again – this time to Southampton. It’s such a shame that we had been unable to overhaul Chelsea last Sunday.
Most people had expected Tanguy Ndombele to have been involved in this game, but a big press story after the game was the fact that Ndombele had declared himself unable to take part in this game due to his concerns about his recent injury. We must hope he is fit enough tomorrow, because with Winks and Sissoko suspended he will be needed at Carrow Road.
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