SATURDAY 8TH APRIL, 2023
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) BRIGHTON HOVE ALBION 1(1)
Referee:- Stuart Attwell
Assistants:- Darren Cann, James Mainwaring
Fourth official:- Jeremy Simpson
VAR:- Michael Salisbury
Assistant VAR:- Dan Robathan.
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Romero, Dier, Lenglet; Pedro Porro, Hojbjerg, Skipp (sub Sarr, 88), Perisic (sub Tanganga, 90+2); Kulusevski (sub Danjuma, 78), Kane, Son
Subs not used:- Forster, Austin; Sanchez; Devine, Mundle; Richarlison
Booked:- Perisic (foul on Gross), Hojbjerg (foul on Mac Allister), Romero
Brighton (4-2-3-1):- Steele; Veltman (sub Enciso, 85), Dunk (Capt.), Colwill (sub Webster, 69), Estupinan; Gross, Caicedo; March, Mac Allister, Mitoma; Welbeck (sub Ferguson, 66)
Subs not used:- Sanchez; Van Hecke; Buonanotte, Ayari, Gilmour; Undav
Booked:- Gross (foul on Kane)
(Both coaches – De Zerbi and Stellini – were sent off after a melee in the second half)
Bitter Brighton beaten
Brighton had two thirds of the possession, twice as many shots as Spurs and had two "goals" disallowed by VAR along with a strong penalty shout. Spurs were out-played, but played like an away side in what was often a 5-3-2 formation, such was the pressure out upon them by Champions League chasers Brighton. Seeking to score on the break, Spurs succeeded in that, scoring two quality goals by their renowned strikers Son and Kane. They ultimately held onto their lead and a precious three points with some desperate defending.
Spurs now have a seven point gap over "The Seagulls," thus nullifying their two games in hand. Brighton have even been overtaken by Aston Villa, who are six points behind Spurs. It’s just a shame that both Manchester United and Newcastle won, leaving us in fifth place.
Post-match reports indicate there was bitterness between the two dug-outs from the outset with bad-tempered Roberto De Zerbi having words and wagging his finger at Cristian Stellini when the two coaches were supposed to be exchanging friendly handshakes before the game. De Zerbi has been sent off once before this season and also served a suspension for four yellow cards. Both coaches were sent off after an hour’s play and presumably both will have to sit out at least one game.
Spurs’ team was of course unchanged with injuries and the suspension of Lucas Moura hampering Stellini’s choices. Richarlison did make the bench but did not see action.
There was a slight delay at kick-off, which I assume was caused by technical problems regarding referee Stuart Attwell’s communication equipment. Brighton kicked off and played towards the South Stand. Brighton had the first corner of the game after four minutes, taken by March. I thought Mitoma’s effort was cleared off the line, but Eric Dier was a little in front of goal. Spurs broke forward and Son had the ball in a central position, passing to Hojbjerg to his left. Hojbjerg’s cross was easily cleared.
After a foul on Kulusevski and a deep free kick by Perisic, Spurs won their first corner thanks to Dunk’s headed clearance. Following the corner, and several passes, Son received Perisic’s short pass near the left corner of Brighton’s penalty area. He beat Steele with a superbly struck right foot shot which hit the net inside the top left corner of goal. It was "Sonny"’s 100th Premier League goal and he is the first Asian player to achieve this landmark. It was as good a goal as any he has previously scored for Tottenham, although the box-to-box goal against Burnley in 2019 was a bit special.
Brighton were soon offering a threat inside the Spurs area and Eric Dier was briefly hurt when he challenged Mac Allister, but soon recovered. Another break followed with Son, Kane and Kulusevski going forward in unison. Kane sent the ball to Kulusevski on his right, receiving a cross in return, but firing over the target.
It looked as if Brighton had equalised after 16 minutes, following a poor Spurs ball out of defence. Mitoma received a cross from the right and fired past Lloris, but VAR decreed he had handled the ball, although I understand it hit him high up the arm.
Spurs were worrying their fans with tentative play out at the back, and that 5-3-2 appearance. There were times when Brighton had every man in our half, apart from their goalkeeper. They just seemed to have more space than us, more accurate passing and certainly more threat. Lloris made a great save, diving to his right to push out a shot by Brighton’s Argentinean Mac Allister. After the corner, Caicedo had Lloris beaten by his shot from outside the area, but the ball rebounded to safety off the left-hand post.
Kane led Spurs forward and fed the ball to Son. Son spurned what might have been another shooting chance and instead passed to Hojbjerg to his left, whose cross was cleared. Skipp made a bold run down the left flank and Spurs appealed unsuccessfully for a foul. The ball ran out for a goal-kick and not a corner.
Brighton’s equaliser was embarrassingly easy. Solly March hit a deep corner from the right and captain Lewis Dunk rose beyond the back post – unmarked – beating Lloris with his powerful header back across goal.
Son had another opportunity to find a shot but passed to Kulusevski. He, in turn fed Perisic, but his shot was way over the target. More pressure upon the Spurs goal followed with March hitting a shot just wide of the post. There was ironic applause from the South Stand when Lloris finally hit a long goal kick after 38 minutes. Son had another chance, but he was seen out by Estupinan for a goal kick.
Another Spurs attack was led by Kane with Lenglet forward. The centre-back put in an excellent cross to the back post where Pedro Porro had advanced but couldn’t hit the target. Pedro also headed just over at the back post from a Perisic cross.
Spurs kicked off the second half, but Brighton were soon bossing possession as they had all game. Mitoma was causing danger towards the left of goal, but Romero saw him out. After a great ball by Kane to Perisic, the Croatian hit a strong left-footed shot, but Steele saved, and Spurs had a corner. Spurs appealed for a handball after another foray by Perisic but got no reward.
Brighton thought they had taken the lead after 54 minutes, and to add to the pain, it looked as if ex-Arsenal man Welbeck had scored it with a deflected shot. VAR decided that the ball had been deflected past Lloris off Mac Allister’s arm.
It wasn’t long before the touchline melee. Stellini was not directly involved but his red card was because he had failed to control his bench, almost all of whom felt aggrieved by De Zerbi. He in turn had, it seems, been upset because we were challenging a decision by the referee after all the fortune we had had with previous decisions!
Perisic was not happy when Brighton were given a corner when he thought he had seen March out of play, but that was caught under his crossbar by Hugo Lloris. Spurs did well on the break with Kane feeding Son, who in turn passed to Perisic on the left. When the cross came in, Kane fired well over the target. Kulusevski broke forward with Pedro Porro down the right, but it has to be the left foot for "Kulu" as he cut back before firing wide of the far post.
The South wall was getting frustrated and Pochettino chants rang out ("He’s magic you know") before a rendition of "We want Levy out."
Brighton had a free kick after a foul by Perisic, who was booked. This time the return header was wide by Veltman. After surviving more Brighton pressure, Spurs took the lead with a great goal at the end of a brilliant move. Hojbjerg advanced down the right and received an excellent pass from Son before cutting the ball back to the edge of the area where Harry Kane hammered home a right foot shot, which beat Steele after a slight deflection.
Thereafter it was pretty much a backs to the wall job. Sarr replaced Skipp, who was given a generous ovation, and Tanganga took over Perisic’s job in added time. Dier made a couple of important clearances.
The embittered Brighton fans chanted "2-1 to the referee", but the decisions which upset them were down to VAR. We’ve suffered the downside of VAR on plenty of occasions, but we were grateful for what was a crucial win.
· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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