Tottenham Hotspur 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
A place in next season’s Champions League moved a step further away from Jose Mourinho and Spurs after impressive Wolves twice came from behind to win an entertaining Premier League clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Before the game, the Spurs boss had spoken of the group, tightly packed, and tripping over each other in anticipation of a top-four spot.
“It’s an open fight for many clubs, and of course we are involved in this fight,” Mourinho explained.
“There is one point difference between us, four points difference to fourth. Manchester United is there, one point ahead, Sheffield United the same, Everton and Arsenal – it’s a big fight.
“A big fight where every point can be decisive. We have to fight for these points, and Wolves are not thereby coincidence or by luck. I think they’re a fantastic team. A really, really good team, so a big match.”
There was a call-up to the starting eleven for Argentine goalkeeper, Paulo Gazzaniga. Hugo Lloris ruled out with a troublesome groin injury. Meanwhile, both Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweirld found themselves on the bench as Mourinho shuffled the pack.
With Nuno Espirito Santo in the opposite dugout, some had dubbed the contest ‘the Portuguese derby’ and it was the Wolves boss who saw his side start brightly. Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez tried their luck. However, when Spurs swiftly countered it was they who broke the deadlock.
Dele’s close-range effort was blocked by Rui Patricio – Steven Bergwijn followed up – the net bulged – the home crowd relieved.
But the home side still appeared disjointed. Diogo Jota whistled the wrong side of an upright as Wolves – perhaps feeling a little sorry for themselves – continued to create the lion’s share of the chances. And with their next meaningful foray forward, the West Midlanders restored parity.
Matt Doherty fired through Gazzaniga – this after Spurs had made a hash of dealing with Ruben Vinagre’s low centre.
But Wolves were to be undone in the final minute of the half. Serge Aurier’s angled, left-footed strike simply flew past Patricio – Dele the architect – the visitors, again left scratching their heads.
Jota’s bullet header flashed over as Wolves looked for a foothold immediately after the restart. Meanwhile, Giovani Lo Celso was snubbed out after Ben Davies and Bergwijn combine, then Dele’s glancing header drifted the wrong side of an upright after Davies had picked him out.
But just before the hour, Wolves were level. Jota picked up the pieces from close range after a sweeping move from the right culminating in Doherty centring – Spurs’ nerves were jangling again!
And the mood was to darken further – unless you were of a Wolverhampton persuasion, that is. Raul Jimenez ran on and finished emphatically – this after the brilliant Jota had skilfully gallivanted forward and fashioned the opening.
Spurs had lost their way, although it could be argued that they’d never really found it. Jimenez missed out on adding a fourth after Pedro Neto became the latest Wolves player to lead the home side a merry dance.
A chorus of booing met the Spurs players at full-time, but make no mistake, the better side took the points. Perhaps, for the first time, the N17 faithful questioning the manager and whether he can guide their team through a distinctly uneasy situation.
Spurs now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup, facing Norwich City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday, March 5 (7:45pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Paulo Gazzaniga, Davinson Sanchez, Harry Winks (Capt), Eric Dier, Giovani Lo Celso, Dele Alli, Steven Bergwijn, Serge Aurier (Gedson Fernandes 82’), Lucas Moura, Ben Davies (Troy Parrett 90+1’), Japhet Tanganga (Tanguy Ndombele 76’) Subs not used: Michel Vorm (GK), Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Oliver Skipp
Booked: Giovani Lo Celso (foul), Ben Davies (foul), Harry Winks (foul)
Goals: Steven Bergwijn 13’, Serge Aurier 44’
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Matt Doherty, Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez (Daniel Podence 90+2’), Willy Boly, Conor Coady (Capt), Diogo Jota (Leander Dendoncker 79’), Romain Saiss, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Vinagre, Adama Traore (Pedro Neto 74’) Subs not used: John Ruddy (GK), Morgan Gibbs-White, Max Kilman, Oskar Buur
Booked: Willy Boly (foul), Leander Dendoncker (foul)
Goals: Matt Doherty 27’, Diogo Jota 58’, Raul Jimenez 73’
Referee: Stuart Attwell
Assistants: Marc Perry and Simon Long
Fourth Official: Kevin Friend
Reaction to follow…