Gareth Bale’s powerful header in the second half and an early Harry Kane penalty were enough to give all three points to Tottenham Hotspur, 2-1, over Brighton and Hove Albion.
The story an hour before kickoff was Brighton boss Graham Potter’s decision to give a debut to 22-year-old goalkeeper Robert Sanchez instead of Mathew Ryan, especially given the form of Tottenham attackers Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane. Mourinho’s side didn’t have any real surprises, though a few notable names such as Dele Alli and Davinson Sanchez were left out of the squad.
Spurs started brightly with two dangerous attacks, both triggered with wonderful feeds from Erik Lamela, who started on the right wing. After the second attack, Adam Lallana made an insanely stupid foul by going over the back of Kane. One VAR check later determined that the foul occurred inside the penalty area. Kane took the penalty and buried it home, giving Spurs an early 1-0 lead.
Brighton eventually got going in attack, though their chances had been very few and far between for the first twenty minute. Leandro Trossard looked to get in behind Spurs’ back line on a Tariq Lamptey pass but couldn’t get through. Another VAR check showed no error though it did seem Doherty had impeded him slightly.
The visitors dictated the attack for the next fifteen minutes, primarily going through Lamptey on the right flank to push forward. As good as he was at times, Brighton’s attackers couldn’t find a final product as Spurs weathered the storm.
Spurs had a great chance right before the half ended after Lamela forced a turnover deep in the attacking third, getting a cross in before getting fouled by Dan Burn. Burn went into the book though Lamela opted to go for goal from an insane angle, unable to find the target and bringing the half to an end.
Spurs and Brighton exchanged possession to start the half, though Brighton seemed to be better off the mark and threatening. In the 56th minute, after working out of their own third, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was cut down by Pascal Gross with no foul given. A few passes later, Lamptey came free in the penalty area and equalized. VAR came into play yet again, leading to referee Graham Scott going to the monitor to check. Inexplicably, he ruled there was no foul and gave the goal even though replay showed a clear takedown. It’s only more fuel to the fire of those against VAR.
Jose Mourinho brought on Giovani Lo Celso for Tanguy Ndombele to freshen up the midfield in the 64th minute as the French International was on a yellow card. GLC got into the act right away, feeding Lamela into a run that gave Coco a chance from 25 yards out. The shot hit the woodwork and bounced out to be cleared by Brighton’s defense. Bale came on shortly thereafter for fresh legs in attack.
Right after the sub, Kane missed an absolute golden opportunity for his 200th Spurs goal on a set piece, chesting a ball and trying to get his boot to it from a sharp angle, but he too found the woodwork. A miss like that made it feel like it was one of those days, but that feeling was washed away almost immediately. Sergio Reguilon broke free on the left flank and crossed a ball in to find the Bale, who headed the ball into the goal.
Brighton recovered from the goal and had more chances to get level again. Hugo was called into action a couple of times, including a collision with Danny Welbeck and a scary save above his head that he gathered but almost pulled into goal as he fell to the ground. That was the final chance for Brighton as Spurs killed off six minutes of stoppage time keeping the ball largely at the other end of the pitch, giving the visitors no chance for an equalizer.
Thoughts on the Match
- Let’s get right to Brighton’s goal: What in the name of all that is holy was Graham Scott looking at? It was a clear foul and probably should have been a yellow. Jonathan Moss not stepping in as the VAR official to say it was a foul is just as egregious. Thankfully, it didn’t cost Spurs points.
- Bale is back on the scoresheet for the first time as a Tottenham player since May 2013. It was good enough to secure all three points.
- Hojbjerg did a lot of work today. In just a short time, he’s become undroppable in league matches.
- We should buy Tariq Lamptey next summer, right?
- Kane will have to wait for his 200th Spurs goal, but it was another good performance for him. He is playing with a chip on his shoulder.
- Lamela played well overall, even with a couple of chaotic moments. He had two excellent balls early on, though his attempt at the end of the half was sure a decision.
- Spurs go to second in the table behind Liverpool and have the best goal differential in the league.
- Back to Europa on Thursday with a visit to Ludogorets.