Sunday, 4 December 2016

Match Report

The comedian Michael McIntyre was in attendance, while the White Hart Lane PA announcer referred to the Swansea City substitute Fernando Llorente as Fernando Morientes on more than one occasion. But for the biggest laugh of the afternoon, nobody needed to look any further than the referee, Jon Moss, whose decision to award Dele Alli a penalty on 39 minutes for what was a swan dive broke Swansea City.
Alli seemed to tumble in slow motion under Kyle Naughton’s non-challenge and when Moss blew for the penalty it was the catalyst for Tottenham Hotspur to surge to a much-needed win. Harry Kane scored from the spot and he would get another one after the interval to take his tally to seven in six appearances for the club.
Son Heung-min scored a beauty on 45 minutes, while Christian Eriksen helped himself to two more in the second half, and it meant that Mauricio Pochettino could exhale after a trying sequence. His Tottenham team had entered the game having won only one in 10 in all competitions. “We needed this after our defeats against Monaco and Chelsea,” Pochettino said.
Swansea’s performance was the other joke. Bob Bradley described the penalty as a “game-changer”, which he was entitled to do, and he felt that Moss “was not in a very good position”. The manager went on to say it was just “a wrong decision”. But his team had done nothing in a proactive sense before the award and the way that they folded after it bodes badly for the battles ahead.
Swansea had no answer to Tottenham’s pressing and, once they were behind and the onus was on them to come out and play, they looked vulnerable. Yet again, the brittleness of their defence was a worry. Bradley did not pull his punches and he has work to do before next Saturday’s home fixture against Sunderland.
“We were not good enough,” the American said. “We were not able to play the first pass after the press and we cannot concede the number of goals we are conceding. We are frustrated and angry. But there was confidence after the draw at Everton and the win over Crystal Palace and it’s not all lost today.”
Tottenham were on the front foot from the first whistle but, although Kane and Kyle Walker worked Lukasz Fabianski, the home side felt a little one-paced and the atmosphere was flat. However, the penalty changed everything and no matter how many times you watched the replay, it was impossible to conclude that Alli had been sent tumbling by Naughton.
The Swansea full-back saw Alli steal in on his blind side and he actually pulled out of making a challenge. The Tottenham midfielder was already going down when he initiated what little contact there might have been and, quite simply, Moss bought it. Swansea were left to nurse a sense of injustice, with Fabianski booked for his protests and the coaches Paul Williams and Alan Curtis moved to confront Moss as the teams left the field at half-time.
By then, Tottenham were two to the good, and what an excellent second goal it was from Son. After Eriksen had seen an effort blocked, the ball looped over towards Son who, on the half turn, leapt into an acrobatic side-on shot that flew high past Fabianski at his near post.
It was Tottenham who were forcing the issue, with Walker, in particular, seeing a lot of the ball in the buildup to moves, after he had recovered from the shock of being caught in the head with a ridiculously high boot from Neil Taylor in the early running. It drew blood, while Walker also needed a strapping to his hand, having raised it to fend off the blow. Remarkably, Moss did not book Taylor.
Bradley introduced Morientes – sorry, Llorente – at half time and he would also send on Borja Baston and Wayne Routledge in a further attempt to inject attacking spark. Nothing worked for him. Swansea were bankrupt in a creative sense and Hugo Lloris was a virtual spectator in the Tottenham goal.
Swansea were cooked when Alli fed Son on the breakaway and, when he was held up by Taylor, Kane arrived to sweep low past Fabianski.
Tottenham were soon looking as though they could score with every forward thrust, so dishevelled were Swansea, and Eriksen twisted the knife. The Denmark midfielder bundled in his first goal after Alli’s shot had looped up off Fabianski and his second was a neat touch and low finish from the substitute Moussa Sissoko’s pass.

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