Christian Eriksen’s 88th-minute winner – an excellent strike from distance – sealed all three points for Tottenham, breaking Brighton hearts following the visitors’ inspired defensive display in north London.
Following their slender 1-0 defeat by defending champions Manchester City on Saturday, Tottenham needed a response. After all, their Champions League-chasing rivals had all dropped points – either through surprising defeats or underwhelming draws this past matchday.
But you could forgive them for gradually losing hope after Brighton’s inspired defensive display: they were excellent throughout. Making numerous important interceptions, interventions and clearances – not least to thwart near the goalline, it was almost heroic efforts that ultimately went unpunished.
Eriksen, tirelessly linked with a lucrative move to many of Europe’s elite in recent seasons, displayed his class once more. Having unselfishly fed teammates to no avail, he took matters into his own hands and broke the deadlock with aplomb from range, blasting low and hard beyond a helpless Mat Ryan into the bottom corner.
Having been teed up by Alli near the far side, he took one touch to set himself and another to prod the ball forward before letting fly from 25 yards out. Striking the ball with as much venom as he did, as cleanly too, left Ryan stunned despite diving low to his near post.
Tottenham dominant with chance creation
It was no less than Tottenham deserved in truth for their efforts, though the final ball was often left wanting and Brighton were more than capable of dealing with danger in its tracks. Jan Vertonghen headed over the bar early on, while Heung-Min Son was threatening in patches and Alli was inches away from latching onto a clever Eriksen pass fizzed across the box.
Lucas Moura had an opportunity which flashed wide too as Spurs asserted their dominance early on, despite having no goals to show for it. Shane Duffy’s goalline clearance in stoppage-time was perhaps the biggest reminder that the hosts were edging closer towards an opener, after Alli’s fantastic initial touch and strike from an inswinging Kieran Trippier pass.
Florin Andone was fortunate to have remained on the pitch after receiving a booking, before committing a succession of cynical fouls. The Romanian, who hasn’t scored since their 1-0 win over relegated Huddersfield on March 2, largely cut a forlorn figure in attack with limited service before being replaced by Glenn Murray shortly after the hour mark.
Brighton stifled and struggle in attack
Pochettino’s men continued to probe and after Toby Alderweireld hit the post with a snapshot on the edge of the box, you’d be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t to be Spurs’ day.
Instead though, they persisted and ultimately were rewarded. Brighton, who were clearly tiring and continued to back off, only recorded 21% possession and registered six shots (one on target) over the 90 minutes.
Substitute Solly March created a promising chance in stoppage-time, only to watch his effort flash narrowly wide of Hugo Lloris’ near post. Clearly left shocked by the crushing manner of Eriksen’s goal and the defensive tactic they needed to desperately abandon, Brighton’s attempts at snatching a late equaliser proved futile.
They remain in 17th place on 34 points, but miss the opportunity to go level with Southampton in 16th after 35 matches. Cardiff, who lost 2-0 at home against title challengers Liverpool, remain three points behind Chris Hughton’s side with the fight for the final relegation place intensifying now.