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Spurs v Huddersfield, 03.03.18

(3pm – at Wembley)

Son, 27, 54

Attendance:- 68,311

Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Mark Scholes
Fourth official: Mike Jones (was due to referee, but injured in pre-match warm-up)

Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (sub Sissoko, 77); Eriksen, Dele (sub Lucas Moura, 83), Son (sub Lamela, 70); Kane

Subs not used:- Vorm; Trippier, Rose; Wanyama

Booked:- Dele (foul on Quaner)

Huddersfield:- (4-2-3-1):- Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Jorgensen (aka Zanka), Schindler, Kongolo; Hogg (Capt.) (sub Depoitre, 83), Williams; Quaner (sub Ince, 33), Pritchard (sub Billing, 45+1), Van La Parra; Mounie

Subs not used:- Green; Smith, Malone, Lowe

Booked:- Hogg (foul on Aurier)

Son shines in big chill

Spurs’ South Korean striker/wing-man Son Heung-min is right back on song and in good scoring form with his second brace in two games, giving him 10 Premier League goals and his fourteenth and fifteenth club goals for the season. Son was grateful to excellent passes by Dele Alli and Harry Kane for his goals, and could have added to his tally (as could his colleagues), but Son, and his team are ready for Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Spurs dominated possession and the game followed a pattern of Huddersfield seeking to defend their goal and preserve a point, whilst Spurs at times played delightful probing football, and at others reverted to their patient recycling and build-up routine. David Wagner’s Yorkshire side had to come out after going a goal down and did have one or two dangerous moments, chiefly through substitute Tom Ince’s breakaway run and shot, but Spurs were able to play within themselves and preserve their fitness and attacking intentions for Wednesday night. Anything the “Terriers” got from this game would have been a bonus and they have key games coming up from which they will be hoping to gain points.

The temperature felt positively balmy by comparison to Wednesday night, but became ever colder as the afternoon progressed. My perception from my train journey, pre-match encounters and my view of the crowd was that the attendance figure would be much higher than the formally announced figure of 68,311 in the press. Huddersfield did not sell out their allocation (and apparently are the first visitors not to do this for a league game this season), but I know the M62 had been closed yesterday in the snow and wind, so maybe their journey was more difficult. Those present supported their team well, derided the home fans (“Is this the Emirates?”) and perhaps prompted the home fans into some response.

Jan Vertonghen was able to start and he and Davinson Sanchez were fully in control at the back. Ben Davies made one particularly impressive saving tackle to help them out on one occasion.

It took me till the second half to realise that the man in the middle was in fact the fourth official Kevin Friend, who had been in charge of our game at Palace last week. Mike Jones was the nominated referee, but had suffered a calf injury pre-match. The club put out an announcement for a qualified referee but Mr. Jones hobbled into the technical area after about 10 minutes, and performed most of his duties from a chair. I think he was ultimately assisted by a volunteer. I noticed on TV pictures later that Mauricio Pochettino embraced Mr. Jones on his arrival, and I don’t think either manager queried decisions in the way you see most other managers do every week. You can’t imagine Arsene Wenger embracing a referee, can you?

One of those re-cycling manoeuvres broke down in the Spurs final third when Dembele lost possession and Williams hit a dangerous cross from the right which was well intercepted and cleared at the back of thee Spurs area. Spurs won an early corner after a Dier ball was intercepted. It was taken by Eriksen, but cleared, and passed all the way back by thee men in white. Dele had half a chance at the back post after a ball from the right of the area by Harry Kane, but that was cleared. Dele frustrates some of his own fans when his tricks don’t come off, but he excites them when they do and he showed skill down the left side after 6 minutes hitting a shot across the goalmouth.

Spurs were already well on top and after 11 minutes, Eric Dier (perhaps relishing his freedom to get forward from the midfield position) hit a right footed shot wide of the goalkeeper’s right post. Son hit a shot from the left of the box which took a massive deflection for a corner . A minute later Son flew past right back Hadergjonaj with great skill, and speed, before crossing to the near post where Kane’s shot was saved and Dele’s attempted follow-up did not meet the ball. An Eriksen free kick after a foul on Kane also took a deflection and went for a corner.

Dele Alli got an early booking for what was really a silly foul in Huddersfield’s half, but he did not present the referee with any further opportunities to punish him in the game. Eriksen had an exchange with Serge Aurier mid-way through the half before driving into the box and hitting a right foot shot which was saved by the busy Lossl. It wasn’t long before Spurs were deservedly in the lead and Son’s first goal followed an exquisite touch by Dele to put him through. Son was clear on the left, rounded the keeper and fired home into the far corner of the goal.

Huddersfield had to try and come out now and Rajiv van la Parra, who has been in the goals recently did have a run from left to right before hitting a shot which tested Lloris, but was held, and was outside the post anyway. Wagner made an early substitution of Colin Quaner, who was disappointed, replaced by the well known Tom Ince.

Eriksen hit an excellent pass from the middle to Son on the left and he hit a shot into the side netting to the right of goal. Another move involving Eriksen and Dele ended with a shot by Harry Kane from the right side, held by the keeper. Former Spur Alex Pritchard had been inured and was warmly applauded by Spurs fans when he was replaced before half-time.

Two minutes into the second half a cross from the right by Dier was met at the near post by Harry Kane, and he did win a corner as the defender got a touch. Minutes later with Spurs dominating outside the area, Eriksen floated a ball across, Dele challenged and Ben Davies got the ball to Son’s feet inside the area. Son just could not get a shot in, and went down under pressure from two or three defenders, but Mr. Friend was not interested in the penalty appeal. Huddersfield had their best chance of the game after Dele had lost possession in his opponents’ half. It was Tom Ince who made a run down the left channel and got clear before hitting a rasping drive which Lloris parried and cleared. Almost immediately Spurs responded in the best possible way with Harry Kane hitting an excellent cross from deep on the right, finished by a Son header which beat Lossl to his left.

There was surely going to be only one winner now, and after a while Spurs played within themselves, I felt. After a foul on Dele out on the right, Eriksen floated in a free kick and Jan Vertonghen headed home, but he and several other Spurs players had been flagged offside. Son tried to get onto the end of a Dier lofted pass after 65 minutes, but Lossl beat him to the ball. It was soon after this when Ben Davies made his great saving tackle in the Spurs area after Van La Parra had put Williams through. At the other end Harry Kane tried to set up Aurier but Huddersfield cleared.

Son was denied the opportunity of going for a hat-trick with an early substitution, but that was also surely a guarantee he will be starting against Juventus on Wednesday night. Lamela replaced Son, and Sissoko replaced Dembele. Sissoko showed strength and not a little skill too in the time he was on the pitch. My chant of “Who needs Bale when you’ve got Sissoko” in unison with my son Greg was somewhat lost on the home only fans around us! Spurs won a corner on the right after a good move started by Sissoko in his own half, which involved Dele, Eriksen, Lamela and both Dele and Eriksen again. Eriksen took the kick, which was met at the near post by Harry Kane but pushed wide of the post. It hadn’t been one of Harry’s better striking days, but he had provided that superb cross for Son’s second goal.

Dele was replaced by Lucas Moura who excited again with some “Ginola-esque” football. There were one or two nice moves through the middle featuring Lucas with Eriksen. As added time approach Eriksen fed the ball to Lamela on his right, but Lamela was forced all the way to the bye-line and could only hit a weakfish right footed cross which Lossl pushed out for a corner.

The win put us above Liverpool until they beat Newcastle in the tea-time kick-off, but we remain in fourth place, and now have a five point lead over Chelsea, who have to play Man City away later today. Higher temperatures are predicted when Juve come to town. The Italians got a 90th minute winner last night away to Lazio, and having won all three of their games 1-0 since our draw will come to Wembley in good spirits. It should be a great European night!

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