January 23, 2020 11:03 AM NPT
Image via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
LONDON, Jan 23: Tottenham Hotspur returned to winning ways in the Premier League but hardly issued a statement of intent as they laboured to a 2-1 victory over bottom club Norwich City on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side had not won in four league games and had failed to find the net in their last three and it needed a late Son Heung-min header to earn three points.
Norwich made it an uncomfortable night for Tottenham and when Teemu Pukki levelled from the penalty spot in the 70th minute to cancel out Dele Alli’s opener and looked capable of earning a vital win in their survival quest.
But Son, once again Tottenham’s Plan B in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane, rescued his side as he touched in Alli’s cross from close range in the 79th minute.
It was a positive night for Tottenham who moved up to sixth in the table with 34 points from 24 games, six behind fourth-placed Chelsea.
They also welcomed back number one goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after the Frenchman’s long absence since sustaining a serious elbow injury during a defeat by Brighton & Hove Albion in October.
On the downside, England midfielder Harry Winks hobbled off with an injury.
“It is a very important victory for us against a difficult opponent,” Mourinho said. “We suffered in the second half and we only have ourselves to blame.
“We are in a situation when I have to think, think, think. I look to bench and we don’t have attacking players. I had to take off Erik Lamela because of fatigue but we showed an incredible reaction to score a second goal.”
Norwich, without injured creative force Emiliano Buendia, once again showed some enterprising attacking football but Daniel Farke’s side remain six points adrift of the safety zone.
“The lads left their hearts out on the pitch,” Farke said. “It’s disappointing to drive away with a loss. We have a special group of players. It was a fantastic away performance even though it was a defeat.”
Tottenham dominated early on with Erik Lamela’s volley producing a fine save by Tim Krul but Norwich grew into the game and both Pukki and Todd Cantwell spurned good chances.
Highly-rated youngster Cantwell showed his inexperience though in the 37th minute though when he got caught on the ball on the edge of his area and Son played in Serge Aurier whose low cross was met by Alli for his seventh goal of the season.
It was Tottenham’s first league goal of 2020 after 398 minutes and 48 shots without success.
Tottenham lived dangerously after the break and Norwich sensed their unease with Pukki again squandering a chance.
Cantwell was a touch lucky to escape a red card for a high tackle on Giovani Lo Celso, reviewed by VAR, and shortly afterwards Norwich were level.
Max Aarons was sent tumbling to the turf by Ryan Sessegnon, referee Chris Kavanagh pointed to the spot, and after a lengthy VAR check, Finnish striker Pukki beat Lloris despite the keeper guessing right and getting a strong hand on the ball.
Norwich were buzzing and their fans were in full voice until Alli’s cross took a wicked deflection and looped up perfectly for Son to score one of the simplest goals of his career.