Spot-kick drama in North London derby stalemate

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Arsenal

Brian Jeeves reporting from Wembley Stadium

Turning the clock back to March 2, 2019, and a dramatic finale to Tottenham Hotspur’s extended stay on the Wembley Stadium sofa…

A PENALTY from Harry Kane rescued a point for Tottenham Hotspur, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw a penalty of his own saved as the 199th North London derby produced another absorbing Premier League contest at Wembley Stadium. 

With dreams of the title now seemingly up in smoke and a potential Arsenal victory leaving the narrowest of margins between the sides, Mauricio Pochettino was fully aware that his stuttering side needed to rediscover their ‘A-game’ to avoid a potentially awkward conclusion to the campaign. 

“They have very good players, they are doing a very good job,” the Argentine explained. 

“Unai Emery is a great manager, I know him very well. Of course, it’s going to be tough. Always a derby is tough, after my experience here in nearly five years every time that we played against Arsenal it was a very tough game.”

And there was almost an unwelcome opening to the game for the home side. Alexandre Lacazette scuffed horribly wide of the target after Alex Iwobi’s attempted pass was deflected into his path. 

Exchanges were – as expected – frantic and a little ungainly. Nacho Monreal’s untidy but effective challenge on Kane wasn’t received well but the Spurs support. And the mood darkened when Aaron Ramsey took full advantage of Iwobi’s industry to round Hugo Lloris and hand the Gunners the lead.

Kane thought he’d restored parity, climbing the highest to nod home Christian Eriksen’s delightfully delivered dead-ball – However, Spurs celebrations were cut short by an assistants flag.

Eriksen dragged wide, while Heung-Min Son was thwarted by Sokratis – Jan Vertonghen then tried his luck from distance as Spurs began to attack with greater purpose. Meanwhile, Lloris produced a smart save to deny the busy Iwobi as Arsenal’s ability to threaten on the break again troubled Spurs.

Arsenal stopper, Bernd Leno, had spent much of the half as a spectator. Nevertheless, the German produced a remarkable double-save to keep out Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko within second as Tottenham’s frustrations mounted. 

The out of sorts Lacazette – soon to be replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – passed up a glorious opportunity to double the Gunners lead – as did Monreal, who headed wide – while in between, Toby Alderweireld fired into the side-netting as the game took on a similar pattern after the interval.  

But Spurs seemed to be running short of ideas. Substitute, Erik Lamela, drilled the wrong side of an upright, but a genuine menace from the hosts was now clearly lacking as Arsenal’s resolve gathered pace. 

But with just over a quarter of an hour Spurs were handed an opportunity to restore parity. Shkodran Mustafi was clumsy on Kane, and the England skipper coolly sent Leno the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.

The drama continued. With time running out Davinson Sanchez caught Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – However, Lloris dived to his right to rebuff the former Borussia Dortmund mans poorly-struck penalty. 

Deep into stoppage-time, Lucas Torreira received his marching orders for a horrible challenge on Danny Rose. It remains to be seen if a point will be of any use to either side as they look to secure a Champions League berth for next season. 

Tottenham Hotspur now turn their attention to the UEFA Champions League when they travel to Borussia Dortmund – defending a three-goal lead – on Tuesday, March 5 for a round of sixteen – second leg tie (8pm).

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Heung-Min Son (Fernando Llorente 79’), Harry Kane, Victor Wanyama (Erik Lamela 59’), Moussa Sissoko, Christian Eriksen Subs not used: Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura, Ben Davies, Oliver Skipp

Booked: Kieran Trippier (foul), Danny Rose (foul), Fernando Llorente (foul)

Goals: Harry Kane (penalty) 75’

Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Laurent Koscielny (Capt), Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey (Mesut Ozil 72’), Alexandre Lacazette (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang 56’), Alex Iwobi, Nacho Monreal, Shkodran Mustafi, Matteo Guendouzi (Lucas Torreira 46’), Granit Xhaka Subs not used: Petr Cech (GK), Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Denis Suarez, Sead Kolasinac

Booked: Henrikh Mkhitaryan (foul), Shkodran Mustafi (foul), Granit Xhaka (foul)

Sent-off: Lucas Torreira (foul)

Goals: Aaron Ramsey 16’ 

Referee: Anthony Taylor 

Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn

Fourth Official: Jonathan Moss

Attendance: 81,332

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Brian Jeeves

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