Tottenham Hotspur reeled-off six wins in a row before their loss to Manchester City last weekend. On the dawn of one of the most important games of the season, that hot streak is now officially gone as they dropped more points to a team with light blue kits.
Spurs took a lead but gave it back almost immediately as they drew 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on the south coast of England. It was not the Tottenham performance that fans have grown accustomed to seeing against the Premier League teams in the lower part of the table.
xG map for Brighton - Tottenham. Spurs weren't great but they had a bunch of half-chances to score a second, couldn't quite get it done. pic.twitter.com/d3co0FKwDY— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) April 17, 2018
Unlike at the weekend, Mauricio Pochettino’s lineup packed quite a few rotation-fueled surprises. It seemed like Toby Alderweireld might never play for Spurs again, but he was chosen here for his first appearance since he played 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Rochdale on February 18th. Serge Aurier, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Son Heung-min, and Lucas Moura each joined Toby in re-entering the side. Notably, Dele Alli and Davinson Sanchez did not appear in the 18-man squad at all.
The first half was tense in the stands and on the pitch, but the game itself got off to a slow start. Brighton were packed in a tight and organized manner at the back. They did manage to spring forward in dangerous ways at times.
Spurs’ passing was sloppy, and they didn’t really create too many clear-cut chances. It didn’t help that the pitch at the Amex Stadium was poor. Players from both teams spent a lot of time slipping and falling to the ground.
Early on, Christian Eriksen could only hit a promising free-kick into a wall, but it the chance was won in an encouraging fashion on the high-press by Moura.
Brighton’s best chance came from a corner kick that generated a header for Lucas Dunk. Hugo Lloris jumped on the effort and held it on the second opportunity.
Pochettino’s side almost took the lead when Moura decided to have a shot from long range. The Brazilian forced Mathew Ryan into a diving save with a blistering effort from a few yards outside the box.
Tottenham came closest to opening the scoring before halftime. The home fans were jeering as Kevin Friend let the players continue after the allotted stoppage time had gone. Spurs kept playing and Son found a shot right at the penalty spot, but it was well-saved by Ryan.
The second half, for the most part, was similarly slow-paced. But the goals did come in a hectic three-minute period after the game got back underway.
Son didn’t give up on a play and pressured Bruno as the defender had the ball on his own end-line. The Korean won possession and displayed some neat touches as he eventually squared the ball centrally for Harry Kane. The Brighton defender on the line couldn’t stop Kane’s shot, and it careened off him on its way into the net.
Kane still didn’t look to be at his best tonight, but he did get his goal.
The celebrations were short-lived as the Seagulls were awarded a penalty at the other end just moments later. Jose Izquierdo drove into the box and left Aurier behind him. The referee pointed to the spot when Izquierdo dove after the tiniest bit of contact with Serge. Glenn Murray stepped up and tucked his penalty in despite the hand of a diving Lloris.
After the chaos of the opening minutes, the second half took a familiar shape to that of the first. Spurs dominated possession, but didn’t play as well as we all know they can.
Eriksen and quite a few others had an off-game. The Dane almost got a stroke of luck when his cross in the 73rd minute came off of Shane Duffy and went just past the far post.
An own goal would’ve been appropriate, because Spurs just didn’t look likely to score again. Erik Lamela, Mousa Dembele, and Fernando Llorente all came on late in an effort to find a winner. The winner never came, and Brighton’s fans loudly celebrated what is an important point for them.
Tottenham missed an opportunity to extend their lead on fifth-place Chelsea, and also missed an opportunity to clinch finishing ahead of Arsenal for the second year in a row.
All eyes now turn to the massive FA Cup Semifinal on Saturday at Wembley against Manchester United.