Tottenham Hotspur finally buried the Wembley Curse today, scoring just 90 seconds into the second half to defeat Bournemouth 1-0 at Wembley Stadium. Christian Eriksen got the goal in what was a pretty pedestrian affair on balance, but it was a huge three points for Spurs on a day where Chelsea and Manchester United both dropped points.
Mauricio Pochettino put out a pretty strong side against Bournemouth, despite a huge mid week match coming up against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Ben Davies was out with an illness, and Pochettino
again opted to slot Son Heung-Min in at left back as his replacement played a hybrid four at the back with Jan Vertonghen spending most of his time on the left flank. Dele Alli, who is still suspended in the Champions League, got the start today, and Harry Winks lined up beside Eric Dier in the center of midfield. Former Tottenham striker (and fan favorite) Jermain Defoe started on the bench for Bournemouth.
By now, most mid table and below teams know the formula to how to get a result against Spurs: put men behind the ball, defend deep, counter occasionally, and deny Spurs passing lanes in the midfield. That’s exactly what Eddie Howe set Bournemouth to do in the early part of the match. The Cherries gave Spurs a lot of time on the ball but didn’t give many opportunities.
The best chance for Spurs in the opening half hour came in the 17th minute when Christian Eriksen put a cross into the box that Dele Alli back heel volleyed over the bar.
In fact, it was Bournemouth that had the two biggest chances in the early part of the match. In the 18th minute, Josh King was left wide open at the top of the 18 yard box, but his powerful shot was deflected out for a corner by Davinson Sanchez. Soon after, Bournemouth almost capitalized on an own goal as a ball deflected off of a Spurs defender forced a reaction save from Hugo Lloris.
Probably Spurs’ best chance of the first half came in the 33rd minute. Eriksen poked a ball into the box towards a streaking Harry Kane who couldn’t quite get control of the ball and the resulting shot was saved by Asmir Begovic.
The first half was overall a pretty pedestrian affair and Spurs went into halftime with the score level at 0-0.
The second half kicked off with no changes to either side, but it only took two minutes for Spurs to find the go-ahead goal. Dele Alli found Christian Eriksen at the top of the box. Eriksen dribbled past a weak challenge from Simon Francis and fired low past Begovic to put Spurs up 1-0.
Spurs had two great opportunities to double their lead midway through the half, but Kane was denied twice at point blank range by Begovic. Kane usually buries those shots, and it was an unusually quiet match from him. Kane also had a second half goal called back for offside.
Bournemouth had one good chance snuffed out by a huge tackle from Jan Vertonghen. They eventually brought on Jordan Ibe and Jermain Defoe (who received a very warm reception from the Spurs home crowd), but didn’t put together a whole lot by way of offense in the second half. Moussa Sissoko also replaced Son.
Defoe had a chance in the 78th minute, but his low poke at goal was just parried out for a corner by Lloris. Eriksen nearly got his second in the 82nd with a powerful shot from the edge of the area, but again Begovic was there to save.
Harry Kane eventually made way for Fernando Llorente, and Georges-Kevin N’Koudou made a rare cameo, replacing Dele Alli.
Spurs perhaps should’ve gotten their second after Moussa Sissoko made a huge tackle and run up the right side of the field, but Dele Alli wasn’t able to direct the header on target. N’Koudou was then taken out at the edge of Bournemouth’s area by Asmir Begovic on a Spurs 4 on 1 break. N’Koudou got up gingerly after some attention from the Spurs physio; the free kick was collected by Begovic.
Bobby Madley blew for time right afterwards, and Spurs got the three points. The final score was 1-0.
- Overall, not the greatest of matches! The first half was pretty dour and Spurs looked devoid of ideas and creativity. Things opened up a bit in the second, but it wasn’t exactly scintillating football.
- After the first goal, Spurs really unlocked Bournemouth’s defense by firing long balls over their midfield from the center backs. It was a great tactic, and Spurs created a number of half chances and threatening plays from those balls.
- Dele Alli still looks off his feed. His work in the press was good, but his passing was bad. He’ll be fine, but this has not been a great stretch for him.
- Bournemouth looked somewhat threatening on the counter-attack today, but Spurs’ defense did a pretty capable job of snuffing out chances. Vertonghen, especially, was huge.
- Final attendance was 73,525. Not quite the Premier League record, but that’s a LOT of Hotspurs.
- A win’s a win and it doesn’t really matter, but I’m not sure why Begovic wasn’t red carded for that horrific tackle on N’Koudou outside of the box. That was textbook “dogso” and he went in studs-up. Not a great match for the official today.