Paulo Gazzaniga - 5
Tottenham Hotspur came back from a goal down to beat Brighton 2 – 1 at home to move up to 5th on the table with a game in hand. After the weekend’s loss to Chelsea, this game’s importance was raised, and even though the performance didn’t impress, the result was more important today to kick-off the festive period.
When the line-up was announced, it looked like Mourinho did not take any lessons from the last two matches, with Sissoko again starting in midfield, partnered with Winks this time. And they played as well as everyone thought with both making very little contribution on both ends of the pitch. Only moment of brightness from Winks came in the 24th minute when he played a brilliant pass to Kane who scored on the volley, but the goal was cancelled after VAR detected the striker was offside.
The rest of the first half was a 45 minute snooze fest with Spurs again failing to move the ball up the pitch centrally and resorting to long balls to create. Brighton took advantage of the poor play with a goal from a free kick in the 37th minute, though the said free-kick should have never been awarded after a blatant dive.
Second half started with more of the same from Spurs, and the hope for a win was quickly fading. But the all-important equaliser came in the 53rd minute from a bit of good fortune when Lucas tried to dribble through the Brighton defence, and the ball bounced to Harry Kane who needed two tries to beat Matt Ryan. Mourinho, rightly, was still not impressed, and brought on Lo Celso to find a winner. The Argentine made an instant impact and Spurs looked like a completely different team, aided also by the introduction of Eriksen.
Tottenham finally capitalised on the dominant play in the 72nd minute when the brilliant combination of Eriksen, Aurier, and Dele produced one of the goals of the season with the latter lobbing the Brighton keeper from inside the penalty box. From then on, it was all about seeing the game out, and the team managed to do that bar a few moments of trouble at the back.
The win provides an important morale boost to the team and should help Mourinho realize a winning formula. The first half performance was an all familiar mess and it all stemmed from the midfield problems. The squad has the exact players to solve this issue with Ndombele, Lo Celso, and even Eriksen to an extent. And the suspensions of Winks and Sissoko, and the late injury for Dele should see at least two, if not all three start against Norwich on Saturday.
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