Thursday, 15 December 2016

Match Report

Christian Eriksen might have departed with the match ball as only the width of a post denied him what would have been the first hat-trick of his club career. It was the lone complaint for him on a night when Tottenham Hotspur recovered some of their rhythm.
They had needed a response to Sunday’s defeat at Manchester United and thanks to Eriksen they found one. Apart from a wobble at the beginning of the second half they were too slick for a Hull City team that once again looked fragile on the road. They have now lost six away matches in succession.
Eriksen’s goals were similar, following balls up the channels and low crosses from the full-backs, and he thought he had completed his treble with a trademark free-kick on 73 minutes. His shot, though, was pawed on to the inside of the post by David Marshall and it was left to Victor Wanyama to lash the loose ball into the empty net.
Eriksen’s one previous hat-trick had come for Denmark in a friendly against Bulgaria in June and he now has five goals in Tottenham’s past five matches to make it seven for them this season. After a dip in form, Eriksen has his mojo back.
Mauricio Pochettino could reflect on what was a tactical triumph. His Hull counterpart, Mike Phelan, had stuck with the three-man backline that he used in Saturday’s 3-3 home draw against Crystal Palace but the surprise was that Pochettino also went with three in defence. Eric Dier returned to the starting XI, in the absence of the injured Mousa Dembélé, but not in the midfield role that he craves. Pochettino, clearly, does not want to partner him with Wanyama in the middle of the pitch and instead he used Eriksen alongside the Kenyan. Dier played on the right side of the back three.
The idea was to provide the platform for the full-backs, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose, to bomb on and it worked. After 14 minutes, Rose got in behind the Hull defence to lay on the opening goal for Eriksen while the second followed an incision up the other flank from Walker.
The initial ball forward for the first had come from Jan Vertonghen and when Rose jinked inside Ahmed Elmohamady – all too easily – and rolled back to Eriksen, he crashed his shot high past Marshall. Tottenham had completed 30 passes in the build-up but it was Vertonghen’s that had got them motoring.
Eriksen’s second was prompted by Dier’s chipped ball for Walker and his low cross was just too far in front of Harry Kane. Eriksen tapped home at the far post.
Hull had a couple of flickers in the first half through Jake Livermore – one of four former Spurs in the visitors’ ranks – and their biggest opportunity, on the hour, also fell to the midfielder. Tottenham were still appealing for a penalty following Andrew Robertson’s challenge on Eriksen when Livermore surged up to the other end to see a shot blocked. The follow-up was an even better chance, but Hugo Lloris stuck out a boot to save. Phelan and Pochettino would both reference that moment.
Tottenham had called the tune in the first half, with the recalled Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli prominent in support of Kane. Sissoko caught the eye with some rampaging runs and when he was substituted late on he departed to applause. Alli’s best moment came on 35 minutes when he took down a high ball from Dier, spun and worked Marshall with the shot.
Tottenham’s attack of the jitters early in the second half had not been advertised and Wanyama drew the crowd’s ire with a bit of dawdling and a weak shot, after a good chance had opened up for him. When Livermore went close to the equaliser, Pochettino immediately sent on Harry Winks for Alli, who did not look happy, and moved Eriksen further forward. Soon afterwards, Eriksen had his second. For Hull, there was no way back.

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