Kieran Trippier chose the perfect moment to score his first Spurs goal as he popped up with the winner to edge us past Watford at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon – and send us to second place in the Premier League table.
The marauding full-back scored the only goal of the game, tucking home Dele Alli’s cross in the 64th minute to give us the points in a game which we dominated from start to finish but just couldn’t convert the chances we were creating. As well as being his first goal in our colours, it was also Trippier’s first in the Premier League.
The victory means we’ve won six on the trot now in all competitions and this result was no more than we deserved as we knocked on the door all afternoon, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Ben Davies all being denied by former Spur Heurelho Gomes in the Hornets' goal.
Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the team that started against Norwich City on Tuesday night - Trippier for Kyle Walker, Davies for Danny Rose, Nacer Chadli for Alli and Lamela for Heung-Min Son.
But, after the fast start in midweek against the Canaries where we led after two minutes, this game took a while to get going and it was eight minutes before either side had a sight of goal.
It fell to us as Toby Alderweireld clipped a ball over the top, Kane tussled with Nathan Ake but was still able to bring the ball down inside the area, although he couldn’t get enough purchase on his attempted lob and Gomes gathered.
We had to wait a further 10 minutes for our next chance, Lamela’s near-post corner flicked goalwards by Chadli but it was easy for Gomes, although we were starting to get into our stride and the chances began to flow.
On 25 minutes, an excellent cross from Trippier on the right flank was met by Chadli but Allan Nyom was in close attendance and the ball hit the Watford defender and went out for a corner. That one came to nothing but we had another shortly afterwards, this one falling to Mousa Dembele 18 yards out but he fired wide under pressure.
Five minutes later we worked the ball across the pitch from right to left, Eriksen laid it into the path of Davies on the edge of the area but his shot was blocked by Nyom.
Our Welsh full-back was seeing plenty of the ball and found himself through on goal again shortly afterwards, exchanging passes with Chadli and bursting into the area. Gomes parried his shot, though, and the loose ball was scrambled clear.
It was one-way traffic and when we were awarded a free-kick following Ake’s foul on Trippier, Lamela delivered a fine cross which found Chadli unmarked at the near post, but he headed well over.
Watford’s first real chance came a couple of minutes later as Hugo Lloris came to the edge of the area to gather a long ball which Kevin Wimmer decided to knock clear, it fell to Almen Abdi but his first-time lob landed on top of the net.
On 36 minutes, Chadli was tackled by Nyom out on the left but the ball ran kindly for Davies, who again was in on goal. This time his shot was deflected away and moments later Gomes saved low down to his left from Lamela’s shot.
Our last chance of the half came five minutes before the interval when Eric Dier sent a lovely ball over the Watford defence which Kane had to stretch for 12 yards from goal, but he could only lift his effort over the bar.
If the first half was a slow burner, the second saw us fly out of the traps and we had a real penalty claim inside two minutes when Kane beat Gomes to the ball inside the six yard box and the Watford keeper appeared to bring him down, but referee Roger East waved play on.
We had Watford pegged back inside their own box for the opening five minutes of the half but just couldn’t quite carve out the chance which would have given us the lead as the visitors defended for their lives. And, having made two substitutions at half-time, they had to make their final change on 54 minutes when Miguel Britos went off injured, replaced by Sebastian Prodl.
Our first change came just after the hour mark, Alli coming on for Chadli, and he was quickly into the action, threading a through-ball forward for Lamela who tried to lob Gomes from a tight angle, but again the keeper saved.
The pressure was building, though, and it finally told on 64 minutes with a wonderfully-worked strike. Kane’s excellent touch on half-way sent Dembele surging towards goal, he knocked it wide for the supporting Alli on the left who delivered a low cross which found Trippier at the far post to rifle home his first Spurs goal and send the Lane crazy!
It was a deserved lead, but there was still work to do as Watford looked to get forward more, substitute Troy Deeney smashing high and wide from distance on a rare attack.
Heung-Min Son came on for Lamela with 18 minutes remaining and he tested Gomes three minutes after his introduction with a fierce drive from a tight angle, while it was almost 2-0 on 81 minutes when Eriksen broke through. His angle to goal was even tighter but that didn’t stop him trying his luck and Gomes got a touch as the ball fizzed across the six-yard box with Alli just unable to convert at the back post.
Watford still carried a threat and when Deeney broke clear and set up Odion Ighalo, Alderweireld was smartly across to block for a corner, which came to nothing. Ighalo’s attempted overhead kick went well wide in the 87th minute as the visitors looked to salvage something from the game with some late pressure, but we held firm for a richly-deserved three points.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Lamela (Son 72), Eriksen (Carroll 90+1), Chadli (Alli 61), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Walker, Rose, Mason.
Watford (4-2-3-1): Gomes (c), Nyom, Britos (Prodl 54), Cathcart, Ake, Suarez (Behrami 46), Watson, Capoue, Jurado, Abdi (Deeney 46), Ighalo. Substitutes (not used): Pantilimon, Anya, Holebas, Amrabat.
Goals: Spurs – Trippier 64.
Yellow cards: Watford - Capoue.
Referee: Roger East.