Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR returned to Premier League winning ways, coming from behind to see off a dogged Brighton side and despite producing a far from vintage performance.
Perhaps a combination of over-exuberance, coupled with left-over frustrations from a disappointing defeat against Chelsea last time out, left a somewhat muted atmosphere amongst those of a Spurs persuasion arriving at the capitals newest footballing venue for this festive occasion.
Tottenham’s recent upsurge in fortune had hit a wall and it was clear that the crowd demanded a positive response. However, in an uneasy opening, Paulo Gazzaniga palmed out a speculative attempt from Steven Alzate, while Aaron Mooy’s strike was deflected behind as the visitors – who had already won the corresponding fixture by three unanswered goals – looked to draw first blood.
Indeed, Spurs appeared off colour, sending passes astray and lacking any of the upbeat tempo one would associate with them until this campaign.
Harry Kane believed he lifted any nagging doubts – guiding beyond Seagulls stopper Mat Ryan after the recalled Harry Winks had picked him out – only for VAR to advise otherwise. And the mood darkened ten minutes before the break when Adam Webster arrived to nod home a delightful delivery from Pascal Gross, leaving the Mourinho honeymoon very much under scrutiny.
Gazzaniga clung to Bernardo’s flying header as Brighton looked likely to double their lead – a chorus of boos rained down along with the showery weather as Spurs left the field at the break.
But seven minutes after the restart, Spurs restored parity. Lucas Moura bludgeoned his way through – teeing up Kane, who fired home at the second attempt after Ryan had rebuffed his initial attempt.
Although still far from fluent, Spurs at least now looked a viable threat. However, in the meantime, Gazzaniga needed to be on his toes to turn aside Mooy’s fizzing dead-ball attempt as Brighton broke menacingly.
But the tide had turned and midway through the half, Dele supplied a delightful finish to Serge Aurier’s cushioned pass to hand Spurs the lead.
Ryan’s fingertips denied Dele a late second, while Alzate’s timely interception thwarted Christian Eriksen as Spurs uneasily edged towards the line. But as scruffy as it had been, the home side had done enough.
Tottenham Hotspur return to Premier League action on Saturday, December 28 when they face Norwich City at Carrow Road (5:30pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sánchez, Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks (Christian Eriksen 68’), Lucas Moura (Eric Dier 76’), Dele Alli, Ryan Sessegnon (Giovani Lo Celso 56’), Harry Kane (Capt). Subs not used: Erik Lamela, Michel Vorm (GK), Juan Foyth, Japhet Tanganga
Booked: Harry Winks (foul), Davinson Sanchez (foul), Lucas Moura (foul)
Goals: Harry Kane 52’, Dele Alli 71’
Brighton & Hove Albion: Matt Ryan, Shane Duffy, Dale Stephens (Capt), Pascal Gross, Adam Webster, Aaron Mooy, Ezequiel Schelotto (Yves Bissouma 83’), Bernado (Leandro Trossard 76’), Dan Burn, Aaron Connolly (Neal Maupay 68’), Steven Alzate. Subs not used: David Button (GK), Glenn Murray, Martin Montoya, Davy Propper
Booked: Dan Bunn (foul), Pascal Gross (foul)
Goals: Adam Webster 36’
Referee: Graham Scott
Assistants: Neil Davies and Mark Scholes
Fourth Official: Tim Robinson
Reaction to follow….