The Belgian midfielder, who came off the bench in the 73rd minute, broke the hearts of his compatriots with a truly wonderful strike from 25 yards at White Hart Lane, just when it seemed the two sides were heading for a draw. It was his third goal in as many games, having only scored five in his previous 130 matches in our colours!
Harry Kane had given us a first half lead which was cancelled out by Imoh Ezekiel with 18 minutes left and, in an excellent game which ebbed and flowed throughout, it was Dembele who had the final word as we ran out 2-1 winners.
We made three changes to the side which beat Aston Villa just three days earlier, with full-backs Kieran Tripper and Ben Davies replacing Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, while Ryan Mason came into the midfield at Dembele’s expense.
While we made a bright start last time out in Brussels, it was the visitors who were quickly out of the blocks on this occasion and they certainly had the better of the early exchanges.
They almost went ahead on four minutes when Erik Lamela lost possession inside our half, Anderlecht broke through Stefano Okaka who shrugged off a challenge, surged into the area and took aim but Jan Vertonghen was quickly across to superbly block the shot and the danger was cleared.
On eight minutes, the powerful Okaka controlled a long ball, laid it off to Steven Defour who hit a rising drive which Hugo Lloris had to tip over the bar. Okaka was proving a real handful in those opening minutes and he linked up on 14 minutes with Youri Tielemans, who received the striker’s pass and drove a yard wide of the near post.
It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that we saw our first opening of the game, a short corner being played to Kane who cut inside but had his shot blocked. The rebound fell to Trippier, but he blasted high and wide from 30 yards.
Moments later, Davies fed a pass in to Lamela, he controlled in an instant and beat two men before stretching out a leg and sending the ball just past Silvio Proto’s far post.
We were starting to settle into the game more, but still had to be on our guard against Anderlecht’s swift counter-attacks, one of which came down their left flank on 25 minutes when Frank Acheampong found Okaka, who held off Vertonghen but Mason this time slid in to block his shot.
The opening goal came just before the half hour when Mason hit an incisive pass in to Christian Eriksen 20 yards out, he slipped the ball to Kane on the edge of the area and the striker hit a first time, right foot shot into the bottom corner past Proto.
That was a real boost and took the sting out of Anderlecht’s confidence, while we finished the half much the stronger of the two sides. But there was little in terms of goalmouth action until the 43rd minute when Eriksen’s free-kick was headed away but great pressure from Dele Alli and Kane won us back possession, Alli then clipped over a cross which Kane met with his head but it was comfortable for Proto.
The second period opened with us on the front foot this time, forcing an early corner, although it was the visitors with the first shot as Olivier Deschacht fired over the bar. Alli then should have done better on the counter but failed to find Lamela in the middle, before Defour tested Lloris with a low shot towards the bottom corner which needed tipping away.
The first change of the game came just before the hour mark as Heung-Min Son made his return from injury in place of Eriksen. His first touch of the ball helped us build a move which ended with Alli’s fierce drive deflecting off Fabrice N’Sakala for a corner, which came to nothing.
Moments later, Son was involved again, this time down the left flank, sending over a cross which was cleared to Davies on the edge of the area, he took a touch and hit a half-volley which looped up over Proto but crashed against the crossbar.
Lamela then sent a shot over the bar with the outside of the his left foot, while the visitors had a chance to level when substitute Ezekiel clipped over a cross which found Serigne Mbodji unmarked, his header was off target but fell to Okaka, who shot tamely at Lloris with 70 minutes on the clock.
Just two minutes later they did equalise though, Defour delivering a dangerous cross and Ezekiel sneaking in between our centre-halves, poking the ball past Lloris and in off the post.
More alterations to the personnel were made shortly after, with Dembele and Josh Onomah coming on for Mason and Alli respectively to give fresh impetus to our midfield in the closing stages, but it was Anderlecht who went close again when Ezekiel sped away down the left, but Toby Alderweireld got back to just get a touch on the shot and send it into the side-netting.
At the other end, Dembele tested Proto with a low effort from 20-yards but the keeper saved comfortably, but he had no chance just a few moments later in the 87th minute! Son delivered a long raking pass to Onomah wide on the left, he controlled and laid it off to Davies who in turn found the advancing Son on the edge of the area. He chested the ball down and popped a pass to Dembele, who took one touch and smashed an unstoppable right-foot shot into the top corner to send the Lane wild!
The final few minutes were played out mostly in the visitors' half and without too many concerns on our goal, the victory giving us our second win of the week... with Arsenal next up on Sunday.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Mason (Dembele 73), Dier, Lamela, Eriksen (Son 59), Alli (Onomah 77), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Fazio, Wimmer, Carroll.
Anderlecht (4-2-3-1): Proto, Gillet, Mbodji, Deschacht, N’Sakala (Conte 83), Defour, Dendoncker, Najar, Tielemans (Ezekiel 69), Acheampong (Sylla 89), Okaka. Substitutes (not used): Roef, Suarez, Nuytinck, Dodi.
Goals: Spurs – Kane 29, Dembele 87; Anderlecht – Ezekiel 72.
Yellow cards: Anderlecht – N’Sakala.
Referee: Orel Grinfeld (Israel).