Spurs responded well to complete a comeback in miserable conditions and beat Brighton 2-1 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Boxing Day.
Second half goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli canceled out Adam Webster’s brilliant header and keep Tottenham in the hunt for a Champions League spot in the day’s early kick-off.
Spurs made two changes from the lineup that lost to Chelsea on Sunday. Harry Winks replaced Eric Dier, while Ryan Sessegnon, somewhat surprisingly, was brought in for Son Heung-min, who begins his three game suspension.
After their defeat to Sheffield United, Brighton made five changes of their own. Lewis Dunk, Martin Montoya, Leandro Trossard, Dale Stephens and Neal Maupay all made way, with Shane Duffy, Ezequiel Schelotto, Bernardo, Aaron Connolly and Steven Alzate stepping in.
In a cagey opening, Spurs took a direct approach and tried to hit long balls early, to Dele Alli and to Sessegnon, the latter just offside as he struck the post. But Brighton were equal to them, with Aaron Moy in particular looking lively – twice he set up Alzate on the edge of the box, with Gazzaniga saving both efforts.
On the 20 minute mark Moy then went close himself, firing just wide after the ball was deflected. A quarter of the way into the match and it appeared Spurs players were still sluggish from their Christmas dinners, looking ponderous in possession and lacking any zip to their play.
The direct ball that Spurs tried earlier nearly. Harry Winks played the ball over the top and Kane finished easily with Matt Ryan rushing out, but VAR ruled the England captain to be a fraction offside.
Eventually, it was the away side that took the lead. After Schelotto had raced up the right flank and was felled by Winks, Gross delivered a perfect free-kick into the box then found Adam Webster rising above two Spurs defenders to power a header home.
3 - Adam Webster has scored as many goals in his 15 Premier League games this season (three) as he netted in 44 Championship matches for Bristol City last term. All three of his goals in 2019-20 have come away from home. Opener. #TOTBHA pic.twitter.com/LC4XKOdQbc— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 26, 2019
Just three minutes into the second half Brighton should have extended their lead. Bernardo was given acres of room on the left and whipped in a cross right on to the head of Connolly, but the 19-year-old fluffed the header from five yards out.
It was to prove costly. Lucas Moura’s run into the box fizzled out but the ball ricocheted to Kane. His first effort was saved, but he snaffled up the rebound and fired into the bottom left-hand corner.
The goal woke the home side up and they looked far more urgent than they had done in the first 45. Moura in particular went about hustling down defenders and forcing mistakes, while Lo Celso’s introduction from the bench added some pace.
Brighton’s response was measured and when they broke through Schelotto – who was full of running all day – they eventually won a free-kick when Winks dived in. Incredibly, the England midfielder escaped a second yellow. Gross’ resulting free-kick then stung the hands of Gazzaniga.
With both teams wanting more, Christian Eriksen came on for Spurs, while Brighton brought on Maupay. The Dane’s introduction proved to be vital.
It was his floated ball that from left to right that found Aurier near the byline, and the Ivorian fullback dropped the ball into Alli’s path with the Spurs man looping the ball brilliantly over Ryan.
It proved enough in the end and sees Mourinho with a swift response after losing to his former employers last weekend.
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