WOLVERHAMPTON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Tottenham withstood mounting injury problems and a spirited Wolves fightback to claim a tense 3-2 victory at Molineux on Saturday (Nov 3).
On an evening when the depth of his squad seemed at risk of being exposed with an injury to Mousa Dembele and a shaky Premier League debut by Juan Foyth, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino saw his side almost contrive to throw away a 3-0 lead.
Yet goals from Erik Lamela, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane inside the first 61 minutes did prove enough for victory despite two late penalties from Wolves setting up a grandstand finale.
For Pochettino, three points came against a backdrop of a thinning squad, with Davinson Sanchez rested on the bench and Dele Alli left at home as the manager tried to manage his stretched resources ahead of next week’s crucial Champions League tie against PSV Eindhoven.
For a while, it threatened to be Tottenham’s undoing but they had just enough in the tank to climb above north London rivals Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League.
It took just six minutes for Pochettino’s injury worries to escalate when Belgian midfielder Dembele went down off the ball.
He was helped around the edge of the pitch before being lifted onto a stretcher and wheeled down the tunnel.
He was replaced from the substitutes’ bench by Son Heung-Min in a change that forced a reshuffle, with Moussa Sissoko moving to his less favoured holding midfield role.
Dembele joined knee injury victim Victor Wanyama on the sidelines along with Eric Dier, who is nursing a thigh problem, to leave young England prospect Harry Winks as the only specialist central midfielder at Pochettino’s disposal.
With 18-year-old Oliver Skipp among the substitutes for Tottenham and seemingly the next man in line for a midfield berth, Winks finds himself as a key figure for his club as he looks to push his claims for his country’s next internationals later this month.
Alli, an established England player who was rested to protect him from a possible recurrence of a hamstring injury, could yet be pressed into action in a deeper-lying midfield role.
After a disjointed opening from both teams, Spurs scored twice in three minutes to turn the match decisively in their favour.
First, on 27 minutes, Lamela produced touches of real quality to hold off two defenders, play a clever one-two with Son and fire a crisp, low finish past Rui Patricio in Wolves’ goal.
Then some poor defending from the hosts contributed to the visitors’ second in the 29th minute.
Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett both failed to pick up Moura, giving the winger a free, far-post header from Kieran Trippier’s right-wing cross.
When Kane made it 3-0 on 61 minutes, forcing home a rebound after Patricio had parried his initial shot, the game looked to be over as a contest.
But Wolves set up a grandstand finish with two penalties, both conceded by debutant Foyth.
First the young Tottenham defender fouled Raul Jimenez, with Ruben Neves converting from the spot in the 68th minute.
When Foyth tripped Jonny in the 79th minute, it was Jimenez who scored the spot-kick to leave Spurs sweating before their win was finally sealed.
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