Eriksen finally breaks Brighton's resistance for vital win
Spurs 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Tue 23 April 2019, 21:39|Tottenham Hotspur
Christian Eriksen produced a moment of magic to finally pierce a resolute Brighton defence in the closing stages of a frustrating yet ultimately rewarding game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Tuesday night.
The visitors, fighting against relegation at the foot of the table, had denied us at every turn with a packed defence limiting our chances, and they so nearly completed the task until our great Dane eventually found the chink in their armour, driving home a 25-yard winner in the 88th minute.
It gave us three valuable points, took us four clear of fifth-place Arsenal with just three matches remaining – the Gunners have four to play - and ensured our unbeaten record at our new home remains intact, with no opposition side yet to even score.
It didn’t take long for the game to settle into its pattern, with the visitors dropping back almost from the first whistle and forming a defensive wall that we were going to have to break through. We had plenty of possession but it was 20 minutes before our first chance. Eriksen whipped in a free-kick from the left edge of the area which was cleared as far as Jan Vertonghen on the penalty spot, his shot was blocked by a combination of Lewis Dunk and Victor Wanyama who were both on the ground and Brighton eventually scrambled clear. Almost a quarter-of-an-hour later, Eriksen threaded a delightful ball through for Lucas Moura, who drilled low across goal from a tight angle past Mat Ryan but Dunk cleared from inside the six-yard box with Dele waiting at the back post.
Brighton didn’t see much of the ball in our half but did threaten with one breakaway on 37 minutes, Florin Andone leading the charge. Vertonghen held him up long enough for Rose to slide in and tackle as the Seagulls' striker came inside to shoot, while at the other end, Lucas had a sight of goal and hit a fierce drive straight at Ryan. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, we went closest to scoring, with Eriksen again the architect. He clipped a clever pass in to Dele who, in one movement, brought the ball down inside the defender and flicked goalwards, but Ryan stuck out a hand to save with the ball then hitting Shane Duffy on the goal-line and Ryan gathered the rebound.
We were level at the break but it was Brighton with the first attempt of the second period in the 46th minute, Duffy heading Pascal Gross’ cross straight at Hugo Lloris. It wasn’t long before we were back in the old routine though, us dominating and trying to find a way through the sea of green shirts in front of us. There wasn’t really a chance of note until the 67th minute when Danny Rose picked up the ball and let fly with his right foot from 25 yards, Ryan superbly saving. And we went even closer five minutes later, Toby Alderweireld swivelling to shoot from 12 yards, only for the ball to hit the post, roll along the goal-line but not go in.
We introduced Vincent Janssen for Lucas with 10 minutes remaining – the Dutchman’s first senior Spurs appearance since August, 2017 - and kept up the pressure, Eriksen testing Ryan with a rasping drive which he kept out, the rebound almost falling to Janssen. Substitute Beram Kayal curled high and wide on a rare foray forward for Brighton and the frustration was reaching a peak when we finally broke through with two minutes left. Passing the ball from side to side, Dele picked up possession and laid it off to Eriksen 25 yards from goal. There wasn’t a great deal on, but he sized up his options and just drilled low, left-footed past Ryan and into the corner of the net to send the stadium wild.
The visitors then decided to start to play, pushed men forwards and tried to exert pressure of their own, substitute Solly March dragging a shot wide in stoppage time. But we weren’t to be denied, three hard-fought points in the bag.
It took a long time coming, but the decisive moment was the one that mattered most. We’d huffed and puffed and almost didn’t blow the Brighton wall down, until Eriksen struck.
He’d had a couple of sighters which were off target or blocked, but not this time, his drive arrowing into the net as the clock ticked down to secure a 1-0 win which could prove vital to our top-four aspirations.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino, who made five changes to the team that lost narrowly at Manchester City at the weekend, said: "It was tough, but in the end we achieved.
"We are seeing the results over the last few days and it’s always tough to play, tough to get three points, the Premier League is so difficult but we achieved what we wanted and that puts us in a very strong position in the table.
"Now it’s in our hands to be in the top four."
Reaction on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Wanyama (Davies 82), Eriksen, Lucas (Janssen 80), Dele, Son (Foyth 90), Llorente. Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Skipp, Dier.
Brighton (4-3-3): Ryan, Montoya, Dunk (c), Duffy, Bernardo, Gross, Bissouma (Kayal 86), Stephens, Jahanbakhsh (March 73), Andone (Murray 64), Locadia. Substitutes (not used): Button, Bong, Burn, Balogun.
Goal: Spurs – Eriksen 88.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Eriksen; Brighton – Andone, Bernardo.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Partly cloudy, gentle breeze, 10 degrees.