Tottenham Hotspur kept their title hopes alive with a dramatic win over relegation-threatened Swansea City as Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen struck late on at the Liberty Stadium.
Alli deservedly cancelled out Wayne Routledge’s opener in the 88th minute and with the referee Jon Moss indicating seven minutes of added time, Son pounced on a Vincent Janssen flick to slot past Lukasz Fabianski and Eriksen sealed what could yet prove to be a vital three points as he waltzed through Swansea’s tired defence to score the third.
Up to that point, it had been a night of frustration for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, but their dominance of this encounter meant they deserved to win. For Swansea, this was a bitter pill to swallow as they slipped back into the relegation zone.
Routledge’s first-half goal had given them hope but they were unable to hold on and the nature of this defeat could yet cause long-term damage to their top-flight survival hopes.
For Tottenham, it was a different story, and Pochettino’s celebrations at their late salvo said everything about the importance of this win.
“We pushed hard in the last six minutes, Swansea were deeper, and we showed faith, belief and didn’t go away,” the Argentinian said. “From the touchline, you must behave and translate confidence and belief. The players deserve all the praise for this result.”
Looking to keep pace with the leaders Chelsea, Tottenham lost their captain Hugo Lloris to illness before kick-off, Michel Vorm stepping in between the posts at late notice against his former club. The former Tottenham players Kyle Naughton, Tom Carroll, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Routledge all started for the home side, while the striker Fernando Llorente failed to brush off an ankle knock.
In Lloris’s absence, Tottenham conceded a poor early goal. A long pump forward from Fabianski found Jordan Ayew, who outpaced Ben Davies and crossed for Routledge to poke home from inside the six-yard box. Despite the goal, Swansea were on the back foot, but held firm in defence in the face of constant Tottenham pressure to reach half-time with their lead intact.
The second half started with claims for a penalty from either side. First, Ayew went down under a Toby Alderweireld challenge, and then Son appealed for handball after his shot was blocked by Federico Fernández. Moss waved away both appeals, but it took Tottenham, who reverted to a 3-4-3 formation at half-time, until the final 10 minutes to break through.
Fabianski produced two wonder saves to deny the substitute Janssen and then Alli, with the first of those blocks leaving him injured and causing the long period of added time. It looked like Swansea were going to introduce their replacement goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt, but Fabianski insisted he was fit to stay on.
Minutes later, Swansea were leaving the field with their tails between their legs. Hull’s win over Middlesbrough did the Welsh side no favours, either.
Clement said: “It’s a result that’s very tough to take for me, the players and the fans. We got off to a really good start, and the goal gave the team a lot of belief.
“It’s heartbreaking we’ve come out with nothing. We have to be encouraged by our performance for long periods of the game. They put in a good physical effort and we have to be professional and go again on Saturday against West Ham.
“The players know the situation, we’re in the bottom three, but we have to go there believing we can get a result. We need to because the games are running out.”TG