Christian Eriksen stepped off the bench to smash home a stoppage-time winner and break Burnley’s dogged resistance on a difficult but ultimately satisfying afternoon at Wembley on Saturday.
It looked like it was going to be one of those frustrating days as we totally dominated with over 70 per cent possession, Hugo Lloris not having a save to make in a game of one-way traffic, but the breakthrough just wouldn’t come as Burnley defended for their lives.
But the great Dane delivered the magic moment in the 91st minute, taking Harry Kane’s pass and firing past Burnley keeper Joe Hart to give us a hard-fought 1-0 win.
With Jan Vertonghen missing with a thigh injury and Eric Dier suffering from a virus, left-back Ben Davies stepped in at centre-back while 18-year-old Academy product Oliver Skipp was handed his full Premier League debut. Fellow Academy starlet TJ Eyoma was on the bench as defensive cover.
The game took a while to get going as Burnley set out their game plan from the first whistle, happy to sit back and invite us to break them down while countering whenever the opportunity arose and it was 18 minutes before we fashioned our first chance. Erik Lamela clipped a ball over the top for Lucas Moura who met it first time with a right-foot lob from just inside the area, but it sailed just wide.
We had claims for a penalty waved away after a coming together between Kane and James Tarkowski and Dele Alli had a shot blocked before Hart made the first save of the game on 31 minutes. A quick free-kick taken by Moussa Sissoko just outside our area led to a swift move involving Lamela and Kane, who swept the ball out wide to the supporting Sissoko, he in turn found Lamela inside the area but Hart was out quickly to smother from close range.
Burnley’s first real chance came in the last minute of the half, Lloris’ clearance going straight to Phil Bardsley who clipped in a cross which was met by Barnes but he headed way over.
And it was the visitors with the first sight of goal after the interval, Robbie Brady’s 48th-minute free-kick volleyed back across goal by former Spur Aaron Lennon to Ashley Barnes, whose effort from 10 yards out was blocked by a combination of Toby Alderweireld and Kane.
But from then on we dominated the second half, certainly in terms of possession as we controlled the ball for long periods, switching from left to right and back again, trying to open up the massed ranks of the Burnley defence. The fact that both Brady and Bardsley were booked for time-wasting showed the frustrating nature of the game.
One great opportunity did come our way in the 75th minute when we switched the ball out to the left to Danny Rose, his cross falling to the feet of Lamela whose side-footed effort from six yards was kept out by Hart’s strong hand low down to his right.
Within the last 25 minutes we made three attacking substitutions as Eriksen, Heung-Min Son and Fernando Llorente all entered the fray. And two of them almost combined for the breakthrough five minutes from time, the latter heading down for Son, but he dragged his shot wide from the corner of the six yard box. Then in the final minute of normal time it almost came again, Son’s low cross going all the way to the back post but Dele just couldn’t get a clean touch and he hit the side-netting.
But eventually the pressure told and when Kane collected the ball with his back to goal inside the area, he had the foresight to wait for Eriksen’s support before laying it into his path, the Dane lashing the ball past Hart to the delight of all but a small corner of Wembley Stadium. It was no more than we deserved, a reward for our patience in a tough, frustrating match but another big three points on the board.
As the clock ticked over into stoppage time, the big moment looked like it was going to be Hart’s excellent one-handed save to deny Lamela with 15 minutes remaining. That was before Eriksen’s decisive intervention, a glorious moment to settle the contest in our favour.
Mauricio Pochettino was pleased that we stuck to our guns and finally found a breakthrough after a determined defensive effort from the visitors.
"That character is so important - and belief and the faith," said the manager. "That is what pleased me the most. To see Oliver Skipp making his (full) debut or Ben Davies playing centre-back with Toby, it’s fantastic news for the team, playing one way or another, with different names. Keeping the belief is so important and we're so pleased with that. I celebrated at the end of the game because we knew it was going to be very tough and the three points mean a lot for us. These three points are so important for us to keep a very good position in the table."
Asked about the impact of his late goal and the consequent victory, Eriksen added: "It was very important. It’s been a tough but fun week with everything we’ve gone through - going through in the Champions League which we wanted and now a tough game against Burnley with difficult conditions, a difficult team to play against. It was great to come off the bench and help the team win the three points.
"Any player who comes off the bench wants to have an impact on the game, trying to create something, trying to score or assist and luckily today I got the goal to get the three points. It was a very nice feeling."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-0 Burnley
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Trippier, Alderweireld, Davies, Rose, Sissoko, Skipp (Son 75), Lucas (Eriksen 65), Dele, Lamela (Llorente 82), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Walker-Peters, Eyoma, Winks.
Burnley (5-4-1): Hart, Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Mee (c), Taylor, Lennon (Vokes 90+3), Cork, Westwood, Brady (Hendrick 90+2), Barnes (Wood 80). Substitutes (not used): Heaton, Lowton, Gibson, Vydra.
Goal: Spurs – Eriksen 90+1.
Yellow cards: Burnley – Brady, Bardsley.
Referee: Graham Scott.
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London.
Weather: Light rain, three degrees.