Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion – a game which included Gareth Bale’s first goal since returning to Spurs in September!
Gareth Bale came off the bench to score his first goal since his Spurs return to give us all three points against Brighton and move us up to second in the Premier League table on Sunday evening.
The Welsh forward, on loan from Real Madrid, headed home in the 73rd minute to make it 2-1 – his first goal in our colours since scoring the winner against Sunderland in May, 2013 – and it proved to be decisive in a game in which the Video Assistant Referee was a prominent figure.
We opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Adam Lallana crashing into the back of Harry Kane right on the edge of the area, with referee Graham Scott initially awarding a free-kick but on closer inspection by the VAR, it was decided the incident happened right on the line of the area which meant it was a penalty. Kane stepped up to drill past Brighton’s debutant goalkeeper Robert Sanchez.
There was another VAR review on 23 minutes when Matt Doherty had his hands on Leandro Trossard inside our area as the ball came across from the right flank but nothing was given this time.
Despite our bright start, the visitors had the better of the first half although didn’t manage a shot on target however, 11 minutes after the interval, Brighton did have a shot at goal and it brought about their equaliser. But again there was VAR involvement as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg looked to have been fouled by Solly March as the Dane started to launch a counter-attack from deep inside our half. Referee Scott waved played on, the ball was worked to Tariq Lamptey via March and Pascal Gross and the Seagulls’ wing-back beat Hugo Lloris to score. There then followed a VAR check on that challenge in the build-up with Scott going over to the pitchside monitor to check for himself – and decided there was no foul and the goal was awarded.
The crucial goal came in the 73rd minute and it was excellent in its creation. Toby Alderweireld hit a magnificent cross-field pass to Sergio Reguilon out on the left wing, he cut onto his right foot and delivered a cross which Bale, unmarked in the area, headed past Sanchez to restore our advantage. The closing stages were scrappy with neither side really creating much and we held out for our first home win of the season in the Premier League.
Good recovery against solid Seagulls
It looked like it might be a straightforward evening at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after Kane’s early penalty put us in control, but instead we had to dig deep to get the points as Graham Potter’s side fought back well.
For two thirds of the first half, it was Brighton who saw more of the possession and we were struggling to find much rhythm to our play going forwards. But defensively we were fairly solid and Lloris wasn’t troubled up to half-time.
That changed in the 56th minute when Lamptey converted their first shot on target, even though it seemed certain that referee Scott would disallow the goal for March’s apparent foul on Hojbjerg in the build-up. Instead, he became the first referee in Premier League history to view an incident again on the pitchside monitor and not overturn the decision, awarding the equaliser.
It was a setback, although we responded well by slowly starting to regain control of the contest and could have scored twice before Bale’s winner. The first chance came on 68 minutes when Erik Lamela crashed a 30-yard right-foot shot against the post, with Joel Veltman then hitting the rebound goalwards and Sanchez needed to make an instinctive save to prevent the own goal. And two minutes later, a corner glanced off Bale’s head to Kane at the back post but his flick hit the upright before Brighton cleared.
Bale’s fine header completed our recovery and the closing minutes were short of any real goalmouth action, Adam Webster’s 86th-minute header which tested Lloris right on his goal-line the only noteworthy action as we held firm.