Meanwhile David Hytner was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for this one. His report has landed, and that’s my cue to say goodnight. Thanks for reading this MBM!
You might recall Southampton’s Shane Long scoring after eight seconds. Actually, 7.69 to be precise. Dominic Fifield was there to witness Premier League history, and here’s his report of a match bookended by drama.
Poch talks! “It was a massive victory for us. We need to congratulate our players for a massive effort, after three games against Manchester City. It was a tough game against difficult opposition. It was difficult, we needed fresh legs, it was hard to find the space for the last pass when they sat so deep. Christian’s goal was amazing. I always had hope, even in 88 minutes. Maybe the next action, the next action! The three points puts us in a very good position in the table, it is up to us now. I am so happy. We have three games left in the season, and are in the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
Chris Hughton speaks. “We’ve gone through a difficult period, and asked for a response from the lads. And we had that. I can’t fault their efforts and what they tried to do. Spurs had chances, but clear chances were minimal. I thought we defended really well. If we managed the game a little better in the final period, and made better decisions on the ball, we’d have got a result. I genuinely felt we were going to hold out. The changing room is down because of the manner, because it was so late. That can take a fair bit out of the players.”
A grim-faced Lewis Dunk – the man of the match – talks. “It was shattering, gutting. The last two games we have put everything into it, and that’s what we’ve got to do if we want to stay in this league. We blocked everything and headed everything away, but that one shot flew in. We’ve got to take the positives, we have become hard to beat. Right now it’s gutting, but there are more positives than negatives and we’ve got to take those into our home game with Newcastle. We’re still in a good position, it’s in our hands.”
The match-winner Christian Eriksen speaks! “I had a few warm-up shots before the first one, and I had the confidence to go again. I hit it really well and it flew in. Confidence is good, but it’s difficult to play against ten or 11 men in their own box. We saw the results the other day, so we needed to put the pressure on. It was a tough and long game. We got a win, there was no option. We need to focus on the Premier League and keep our spot. I really like the new stadium, it’s given everyone at the club a big boost.”
As the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium erupts in celebration, Lewis Dunk sinks to his knees. Brighton put in a shift tonight all right. They rode their luck at times, but on the whole theirs was a fine defensive display against one of the best teams in Europe. Possibly the soon-to-be champions of Europe. It looked like they were on for a priceless point. But Christian Eriksen had other ideas … and the talent to turn them into reality. What a goal he scored! Brighton couldn’t do anything to stop it. And so they remain in 17th spot, three points ahead of Cardiff City and with a far superior goal difference … but with a much tougher run-in. Spurs meanwhile consolidate third place: with 70 points, they’re three clear of Chelsea, four clear of Arsenal and six clear of Manchester United … though the latter two clubs have one game in hand. The business end of the season, how it ebbs and flows.
FULL TIME: Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
What a precious point it would have been for Brighton. What a precious three points for Tottenham. And it’s now 68 Premier League matches without a goalless draw for Spurs.
90 min +2: March jigs in from the right wing, beating a couple of Spurs lunges and aiming for the bottom right. His shot fizzes wide of the post, but not by far. On the touchline, Chris Hughton looks distraught, as you might imagine.
90 min: That got the Wall of Sound banging! Foyth comes on for Son. There will be four minutes of added time.
GOAL! Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion (Eriksen 88)
And when it came, it was so simple! Eriksen drops a shoulder to drift in from the right. From 25 yards, he whistles a low heatseeker into the bottom right! Ryan, at full stretch, had no chance! Duffy and Dunk, who have been excellent tonight, look on the verge of tears. Can you blame them?
87 min: Alderweireld gives the ball away needlessly, and suddenly Murray is able to whip a pass up the left, sending Kayal into acres of space. He curls towards the top right. Wild and high.
87 min: Gross lashes the ball up the right wing. It rolls slowly into the Spurs half. There’s nobody there but Lloris. Brighton are so close to a precious point, you can’t blame them for sitting back.
85 min: Trippier bundles Locadia to the floor. A free kick out on the left, and a chance for Brighton to load the Spurs box. But Gross’s delivery is sloppy and there goes that opportunity.
84 min: Eriksen cuts in from the right and shoots low. Ryan saves well at his near post. Trippier then crosses deep from the right. Rose goes up, falls over, and claims a penalty, but he’s never getting it. Plenty of tension in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
81 min: Murray attempts to score from 35 yards. Nope.
80 min: For the first time in 20 months, Vincent Janssen takes to the pitch in a Spurs shirt. He replaces Moura and is welcomed back warmly.
78 min: In the last five minutes, a grand total of 0% of the play has taken place in Tottenham’s final third. But suddenly Brighton snap that trend, Bissouma nearly bustling clear down the inside-left channel. He’d have been through had Murray not got in the way and involved from an offside position. Up goes the flag, much to Tottenham’s relief.
77 min: Alderweireld, to the right of the D, drops a shoulder and shoots towards the top left. A deflection sends the ball dropping to Alli at the far post, but he can’t keep his snap header down.
75 min: It’s all happening. March replaces Jahanbakhsh. Moura, to the left of goal, heads back for Alli who leans back and blasts over. Duffy is fortunate not to concede a penalty as he clatters into Alli with the ball sailing into the sky. Then Bernardo is booked for a late lunge on Moura. The resulting free kick, out on the right, finds Son in a bit of space but he can’t get a meaningful effort away. Breathless.
73 min: Is it simply not Tottenham’s night? Trippier wins a corner on the right. The ball’s worked back to Eriksen, who slips a pass down the inside right for Alderweireld. The big defender spins and crashes a low shot off the bottom of the right hand post. The ball’s beaten Ryan, but instead of rolling in, spins across the face of goal and clear!
71 min: With Ricky Villa in the crowd, Son does his best to recreate his famous 1981 FA Cup winning goal. A meander down the inside-left channel, some fine close control on display. But Dunk slides in to deny him, just as it was threatening to open up.
70 min: Jahanbakhsh strokes a long pass down the right wing, releasing the pressure on Brighton. If Murray had any pace, he’d have been away. As it is, Vertonghen strides over to snatch back possession. Spurs were light at the back there, though.
68 min: From a central position, Eriksen floats a cross wide left to Rose, who heads across into the mixer. Brighton manage to clear just as Son and Llorente’s eyes were lighting up.
66 min: Rose glides in from the left and sends a zipping, swerving, rising shot towards the top left from 25 yards. It’s a fine strike, and it’s parried well, then claimed, by Ryan. That’s lovely football all round, a fierce shot and equally spectacular save.
65 min: Trippier wants a free kick just to the right of the Brighton box, his cross hitting the flailing arm of Bissouma. But it’s just a corner, which is wasted. Brighton are struggling to escape their final third.
64 min: Andone irritates Tottenham’s support for the last time this evening, taking an age to leave the pitch as he’s hooked in favour of Murray. Clock management in full effect.
63 min: Spurs are getting a little edgy. Eriksen has plenty of time and space down the right, but sends the ball straight at Ryan from a long way out. Was he shooting? Or looking for Son? Either way, it wasn’t much good.
61 min: Trippier slides a pass down the inside right for Son, who nearly dances clear along the byline but is denied by a splendid last-gasp tackle by Bissouma. The resulting corner is hit too long, and is a complete waste of time. Brighton, obviously, are more than happy to waste time. A point would be so precious.
59 min: A little bit of space for Son, who cuts in from the right and attempts to curl a Knockaertian screamer into the top left. Not far away, a fine effort, yet always going a touch high and wide. Ryan had it covered.
57 min: Eriksen chips a cross gracefully from the left, but there’s nobody making a run in the Brighton box and Ryan can watch the ball sail out for another of those sonically experimental goal kicks.
55 min: Spurs are beginning to push Brighton back. Rose crosses from the left. Moura can’t leap high enough to connect. Brighton clear … but there’s no way out and Spurs are quickly coming back at them. Wanyama relieves the pressure by snatching at a shot from 25 yards, the ball spinning harmlessly wide. On the touchline, Pochettino shouts at his men to calm down. No need to panic yet.
53 min: Son and Alli work hard down the inside left, their toil eventually rewarded when the ball breaks to Eriksen. He curls a low cross to the far post, where Moura should be, but isn’t. He gesticulates at his team-mate in animated fashion, as that would have been a fine chance for a more alert player. But instead, it’s a goal kick … and you’ve got to admire Ryan’s sheer nerve.
51 min: Now Rose hoicks behind for a goal kick. Ryan, time, whistles, rage, etc. You know how it goes. On the Spurs bench, several highly irritated members of staff perform the watch-tapping mime.
50 min: Eriksen thumps the ball over the bar from 25 yards. Ryan had it covered all the way. The Wall of Sound erupts in whistling fury as the keeper takes an age over the restart.
49 min: Rose makes off down the left and wins a corner for Spurs. Rose takes himself, pulling the ball back for Trippier, who wanted to shoot first time but was closed down. David Beckham and Paul Scholes used to make that look so easy. It’s not so easy, though, to be fair.
47 min: Gross hits a diagonal free kick, left to right. Duffy springs the Spurs trap and has a free header … but it’s from a tight angle and flies straight at a grateful Lloris.
46 min: Bernardo goes on a Beckenbaueresque sashay down the middle. He nearly breaks free into acres of space, so Eriksen cynically tugs him back. As the London-based midfielder is booked, the Brighton fans chant “You dirty northern bastard.” Wonderfully dry.
Here we go, then, the second half. Brighton get the game restarted. They haven’t hooked the tightrope-walking Andone. Spurs will be shooting towards the Wall of Sound.
HALF TIME: Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Spurs haven’t had a goalless draw in the league for 67 matches. Well, they don’t know what they’ve been missing, because that was a lot of fun. More please!
45 min: Spurs so nearly take the lead in the final minute of the half! Trippier wedges a fine pass down the right. Alli takes it down sensationally, killing the ball dropping over his shoulder, then whips an instant shot goalwards. Ryan gets a hand to it. Duffy then blocks on the line. Ryan turns and falls on the ball just as Llorente was shaping to poke the rebound home.
44 min: Spurs pass it around prettily, but pointlessly. On that subject, here’s Dom Salmon: “While I salute any excuse to spin Spike’s Q theme tune genius, does this presage another Spurs game of 110% possession, 249 shots, none on target and the last five minutes is just Poch and the team advancing towards the sideline steadicam man chanting ‘What are we going to do now?’”
42 min: Now Andone barges Vertonghen out of the road, operating on the borders of legality. He’s contributing to the entertainment all right, but for how much longer?
40 min: Moura drifts in from the left and has a blast. It’s straight at Ryan, who snaffles. This is a magnificently entertaining match, never mind the scoreline.
38 min: Or maybe he’ll become the matchwinner for Brighton instead! First up, Wanyama shoots. It’s charged down, and suddenly Andone is rushing down the left wing unchallenged! He makes it all the way to the Spurs box, where he’s denied by a last-ditch pincer movement between Trippier and Alderweireld and a fine tackle by Rose. Then there’s another phase of attack, Jahanbakhsh making good down the right and whipping a low cross through the six-yard box. Andone is a toenail away from poking that one home! He’s a busy boy, Andone.
36 min: Andone is pushing his luck. First he receives a booking for repeated fouling, the latest a swipe at Rose. Then, less than a minute later, he goes in hard on Trippier. The referee awards the free kick, but there’s no second yellow. Andone can consider himself fortunate. The noggin gone, there’s a fair chance he’ll be hooked at half-time.