Second-half goals from Harry Kane and Dele Alli ensured a come-from-behind victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Boxing Day afternoon as Tottenham finished their home campaign for 2019 on a positive note.
Tottenham had trailed at half-time to Adam Webster’s 37th-minute header, but hit back eight minutes after the interval through captain Kane before Dele capped a superb move with a delightful finish for the winner with 18 minutes remaining.
The visitorsMourino’s team under a spell of pressure in the closing stages but if anything, it was Tottenham who went closest to adding to the tally with Dele and substitute Christian Eriksen both seeing efforts saved and blocked in the closing minutes.
Toby Alderweireld on defensive duty.
It was a momentous day for Jan Vertonghen as he lined up at left-back for his 300th appearance for the Club and, despite the early start and the miserable weather, the game started brightly with both sides having half-chances.
Steven Alzate dragged wide for Brighton, Ryan Sessegnon – making his first Premier League start in Tottenham’s colours – saw an effort at the far post blocked by Ezequiel Schelotto and Alzate then tested Paulo Gazzaniga with a low shot that had the keeper scampering to his left to parry the ball away.
Tottenham thought they had scored in the 24th minute when Harry Winks clipped a ball over the top which Kane latched on to and neatly tucked home past Mat Ryan, only for a VAR check to rule it out for offside.
Tottenham were getting into good positions in the final third but couldn’t find a telling pass, Lucas Moura running at the Brighton defence on a number of occasions. He was upended by Dan Burn on one of them, but Kane drilled the 25-yard free-kick against the wall.
The visitors took the lead in the 37th-minute, after Winks was adjudged to have fouled Schelotto out on the right flank. Pascal Gross sent over the free-kick and Webster climbed highest to head past Gazzaniga.
Moments later, the Argentine keeper was diving to his right to hold onto a header from Bernardo. Tottenham kept plugging away in attack, Moussa Sissoko getting to the byline and cutting back but Shane Duffy got there ahead of Dele and Lucas did superbly well to burst away from three players in midfield and crash a shot towards goal, although his final effort was blocked.
An early breakthrough in the second half was required and the Mourino’s team got it in the 53rd minute thanks to great determination from Lucas. Picking the ball up mid-way inside Brighton’s half, he avoided a couple of tackles and looked to have over-run the ball twice but somehow kept possession, the ball falling at the feet of Kane inside the area. His rocket of a left-foot shot was superbly kept out by Ryan, but the rebound came straight back to the skipper whose volley with his other foot found the back of the net.
Kane clearly enjoys playing on Boxing Day as this was his fifth game on 26 December in Tottenham and he’s scored in all five, with this strike his eighth goal on this day!
The equaliser allowed Tottenham create some momentum and held the upper hand in the game, Giovani Lo Celso seeing a lot of the ball following his introduction for Sessegnon. But Brighton still carried a threat and Gazzaniga needed to be alert to make a fine save from Gross’s 25-yard free-kick.
Jose Mourinho also brought on Christian Eriksen in place of Winks and the Dane was immediately involved as Tottenham took the lead in the 72nd minute. His exquisite pass found Aurier running in behind the Brighton defence, the full-back clipping the first-time ball back for Dele who lofted a delightful half-volley over Ryan and in.
The closing stages saw the visitors push forward in search of an equaliser and when Burn cut back at the far post there was a moment of danger but the lines were cleared. And at the other end, Tottenham countered a couple of times, Kane firing wide before putting Dele in on goal moments later, Ryan producing an outstanding save to tip his effort over the bar.
It was almost 3-1 in stoppage time when Sissoko pulled the ball back for Eriksen, only for Alzate to superbly block, but it mattered not as the whistle blew shortly after and Tottenham collected three hard-earned points.