Thursday 17 October 2019

A Winks and a nod is Spurs' salvation in Kane's absence

SPURRED ON: Harry Winks celebrates his injury-time winner. Pic: AP
SPURRED ON: Harry Winks celebrates his injury-time winner. Pic: AP

Tottenham survived the absence of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min as Harry Winks' stoppage-time header secured a vital 2-1 victory at Fulham.

The striker's ankle injury and Son's absence due to international duty had meant a rare start for Fernando Llorente, who after scoring an own goal also missed two fine chances to make amends.

Dele Alli's seventh of the season and then one from Winks, from essentially the match's last move, instead cruelly edged 19th-placed Fulham closer to relegation.

It kept Spurs on course for a top-three finish, even thought they are under increasing pressure from Manchester United.

Fulham's attacking options had been under similar scrutiny, owing to reports of a fight between Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara during a yoga session, as well as the recent signing of Ryan Babel.

CRUCIAL WIN: Pochettino. Pic: PA
CRUCIAL WIN: Pochettino. Pic: PA

With Kamara not even a substitute, Babel was handed his debut at Ryan Sessegnon's expense, and in the 12th minute he wasted a fine chance to give his new team an unexpected lead.

Playing with greater belief and frustrating Spurs by defending deep and in numbers, the hosts required only a further five minutes to take the lead. From a right-wing corner Jean Michael Seri crossed to in front of goal, where after Tim Ream had missed a header, under minimal pressure the unfortunate Llorente attempted to clear and instead saw the ball bounce off his shin and beyond Lloris.

The hosts will rarely have performed better during what has been a difficult season, but perhaps typically it was a defensive error with which they were undermined.

When in the 52nd minute Tim Ream made a hash of a clearance, after Toby Alderweireld's hopeful long ball, Christian Eriksen collected possession on the right and calmly crossed to Alli, who then seamlessly scored with his fourth header this season.

Danny Rose then nearly gave Spurs the lead but saw his right-footed shot deflected onto the crossbar by Denis Odoi.

It was in the 82nd minute when Llorente headed narrowly wide at the back post from Rose's free-kick and appeared to have wasted their last chance of all three points.

Yet in the third minute of the three added on, substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou brilliantly crossed to Winks, who from immediately in front of goal dramatically headed Spurs to victory.

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