Swansea 1 Tottenham 3: Spurs force dramatic late turnaround with three goals in six minutes

Jim White
Tottenham's players celebrate Son's goal at Swansea - AFP

They left it late, very late, but Tottenham are still in the title race. After apparently showing every sign of conducting a second seasonal choke, they scored three times in the last few moments through Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min and the magnificent Christian Eriksen to secure three points and keep their pursuit of Chelsea still mathematically alive.

The noise emanating from the Spurs supporters at the end was the collective sigh of relief.

As the game began, both sets of supporters had eyes cast elsewhere: Spurs to Chelsea, Swansea nervously attentive to what was happening at Hull. The home fans were only too aware that defeat here combined with a Hull victory would push them back into the relegation maw.

What has compounded the recent decline has been the loss to injury of Fernando Llorente, who likes to score his goals in pairs. And likes to score headers.

In his place has come Jordan Ayew. And the Swansea crowd were given immediate indication here of what they were missing when Gylfi Sigurdsson, one of a quartet of former Spurs in the home line-up, swung a gilt-edged invitation of a free-kick into the penalty area after 10 minutes.

Mauricio Pochettino congratulates Dele Alli  Credit: Rex Features

Ayew barely got off the ground as Toby Alderweireld almost contemptuously beat him to the header. Therein appeared to lie the problem.

Alderweireld’s clearance, however, went behind. And from the ensuing corner, the ball broke to Martin Olsson on the edge of the Spurs area. To a chorus of alarm from the stands, the full-back was chased back into his own territory and passed the ball all the way to his goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Yet as the groans echoed round the Liberty Stadium, it turned out to be a masterpiece of attacking football. The keeper’s huge kick soared beyond the halfway line and evaded the out-rushing Tottenham defence to land at Ayew’s feet.

Ayew may not be Llorente’s peer in the air, but on the ground he is turbocharged. He sped forward into the Tottenham box, checked and, essaying a couple of extravagant step-overs, dummied Ben Davies, giving himself room to pick out Wayne Routledge. The former Spurs player tapped home past the former Swan Michel Vorm and cheerfully celebrated his moment.

Swansea 1 - 0 Spurs (Wayne Routledge, 11 min)

So much so, you have to wonder if he is a secret Chelsea fan.

Spurs, disinclined to panic, eased their way back into things. Crafting moves mainly involving Eriksen, they were soon pressing the Swansea defence. After a typical slide- rule Eriksen pass, Son sped forward. It was to the home side’s good fortune that, instead of pressing home advantage, he decided to push the ball forward to Moussa Sissoko, whose tame cross was easily blocked.

Meanwhile, Swansea sensed the menace Ayew could pose and twice he was sent away by shrewd prom-pting passes, causing Mauricio Pochettino on the touchline to spread his arms in frustration that Sissoko and Eric Dier were allowing Tom Carroll and Jack Cork so much room to feed their colleague.

The forward had a penalty shout early in the second half after falling extravagantly in the area under Alderweireld’s attention. Jon Moss, the referee, was not remotely interested. Spurs then had an appeal of their own when Son’s shot hit Federico Fernández, standing directly in front of him, on the arm. Again Moss showed a distinct lack of interest, adjudging it impossible for the defender to do anything to get out of the way.

His refusal seemed to prompt Spurs into action. They won a series of corners and kept pressing but they were finding chances – proper convertible chances – hard to craft.

Swansea 1 - 2 Spurs (Son Heung-Min, 90 + 1 min)

After an hour, Pochettino sent on Vincent Janssen, who is not necessarily the answer to the question: where is the next Spurs goal going to come from?

The Swansea supporters, meanwhile, were poised on the edge between delight and misery. The score from Hull was shown on the big screen; they knew if they could hang on for a win it would be a huge boost to morale. But Spurs were pressing.

Alderweireld hammered a shot wide, Eriksen kept finding space, Janssen was played through and collided with Lukasz Fabianski, temporarily discomforting him.

And then came the inevitable. Finally, the ball broke kindly for a man in yellow, Alli found himself alone and unguarded at the far post, able to steer home the most vital of equalisers.

Spurs were not finished there. After Janssen deftly back-heeled the ball into his path, the fizzing Son scooped the ball into the net.

And before as injury time reached its conclusion, the brilliant Eriksen jinked and dummied and placed his shot with characteristic precision into the corner of the goal.

The Spurs go marching on.

 

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