Second half Spurs fightback gets season back on track


Second half goals by Heung-Min Son and Fernando Llorente saw Tottenham see off a spirited Watford 2-1.

Mauricio Pochettino made a trio of changes to his line-up that beat Fulham on Sunday, a game that seems a long time ago for the Lilywhites having exited two cup competitions since that win at Craven Cottage, brought Serge Aurier, Moussa Sissoko and the returning Son into his team.

The return of the South Korean was a boost for Pochettino’s side after his nation side exited the AFC Asian Cup at the quarter-final stage after a shock 1-0 loss to Qatar.

It may have surprised some to see that the Argentine stuck with Fernando Llorente to lead the line, although Tottenham have scored more headed goals than any other side in the league (12) whilst the home fans were pleased to see talisman Christian Eriksen back in the squad after being rested during their defeat to Crystal Palace on Sunday.

Javi Gracia also made three changes to the team that beat Burnley in their last Premier League outing. Daryl Janmaat, Craig Cathcart and Will Hughes all came into the Hornets line-up.

Watford were looking to do the double over Spurs for the very first time after inflicting their first league defeat of the season at Vicerage Road in September, defeating Pochettino’s side 2-1 thanks to goals from Troy Deeney and Craig Cathcart.

Captain Deeney was involved early on when a Holebas cross was just deflected over his head by Toby Alderweireld.

The return of Son was evident, and the South Korean almost netted an early goal, twistinng and turning away from his man before bending a shot just wide, displaying the pace and trickery that Spurs have missed in his absence.

A deflected Christian Eriksen effort was well palmed out by Hornets keeper Ben Foster as Tottenham began to dominate with a quarter of an hour played.

Eriksen and Son were at the heart of everything good for Spurs. The two combined to present a chance for the latter, but a heavy touch wasted the chance.

Watford were still a threat at the opposite end and commanded Spurs’ full concentration. Gerard Deulofeu worked space for a shot but dragged it just wide of Hugo Lloris’ left post.

The Hornet’s would soon take the lead, though. Craig Cathcart, who scored in the reverse fixture in September, profited from truly awful goalkeeping by Hugo Lloris to head into an empty net.

Jose Holebas whipped a corner into dangerous territory where a combination of Cathcart and Davinson Sanchez watched the ball trickle goalward and over the goal line. Lloris was nowhere to be seen having misjudged the cross in an effort to claim the ball.

Watford celebrate their opening goal (Photo: Premier League)

Spurs pressed for the equaliser down the left with regular crosses from Danny Rose, but it was the away side who took the half-time lead in the break.

Pochettino made a half-time change in an attempt to alter Spurs’ fortunes. On came Brazilian winger Lucas Moura for Serge Aurier as Pochettino’s intentions became clear.

Five minutes into the second half they missed a glorious chance to restore parity. A Moussa Sissoko cross was directed goalward by Llorente to force a sharp Foster save. The rebound came back to Llorente from close range, but he sent the ball over the crossbar.

The direct running of Moura continued to trouble the Watford defence but the away side still looked comfortable and confident going forward, Deulofeu dragging an effort wide on the counter.

The Tottenham equaliser almost came on 62 minutes, a low Eriksen free-kick was deflected on target which forced a smart Foster save before Llorente headed wide on the second phase of play.

Tottenham may have felt aggrieved not to have had a penalty after a Janmaat challenge on Moura.

Frustrations grew around a less-than-packed Wembley. Cheap free-kicks continued to help the away side run down the clock as we approached the last 15 minutes.

A speculative Harry Winks effort almost took Foster by surprise, but it looked like one of those nights for Spurs. Nights they have had too many of regularly recently.

Substitute Isaac Success squandered a golden chance to double the lead but flashed an effort wide on the half volley before Son grabbed equaliser on 80 minutes.

A ball through to Llorente was mis-controlled with the Spaniard failing to get the ball out of his feet. The ball eventually fell to the Son inside the box who smashed the ball past Foster.

Son fired just Foster to relieve Tottenham fears of a third consecutive defat in all competitions (Photo: Andy Wilkins)

The home fans were suddenly buoyant. Spurs needed a positive result after their two recent cup exits and Llorente turned himself into an unlikely hero with the winner.

Rose floated a cross to the back post where the World Cup winner leapt to head back across goal and into the far corner.

The 33-year-old’s relief was clear to see as he ran over to manager Mauricio Pochettino in pure delight.

Watford attempted to look for a fightback but there was no time left in the day. Tottenham grab a deserved victory late on and move just two points behind Manchester City.

Tottenham: Lloris (C), Aurier (Lucas,46), Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen (Lamela,79), Rose, Winks, Sissoko (Trippier, 69), Eriksen, Son, Llorente

Unused Substitutes: Gazzaniga, Walker-Peters, Dier, Skipp, Lamela

Watford: Foster, Janmaat, Cathcart, Mariappa, Holebas, Hughes, Cleverly (Wilmot, 66), Capoue, Pereyra, Deulofeu (Success, 61), Deeney (C)

Unused Substitutes: Gomes, Britos, Masina, Quina, Sema


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