Match Report: Brighton vs Spurs
Brighton & Hove Albion battled hard from the outset and produced a respectable performance to grab a point against Spurs. With the FA Cup semi-final just around the corner, Mauricio Pochettino made six changes to the starting XI that he fielded against Champions Man City.
Tottenham Hotspur just did not turn up last night and seemed to lack precision, whether it be with the final pass or with an effort on goal.
The sold-out Amex Stadium was roaring from kickoff as the Brighton fans hoped to cheer their side to Premier League safety. Both teams started well and Brighton fought for possession in the first few minutes. As the game approached the twenty-minute mark, it was obvious that Spurs were going to take the majority of possession – but when Brighton did have the ball they were rather accurate with their passing. Knockaert presented the first chance for the Seagulls as he used his pace to skip away from Victor Wanyama and take a shot against Hugo Lloris, who scooped the effort up. Heung-Min Son proved dangerous against seasoned fullback Bruno and drilled a shot near post in the 22nd minute. Mat Ryan was able to cover his nearside well, however.
Pascal Groß showed some individual flair in the 27th minute to turn away from Wanyama on the edge of the Spurs box. After evading his opponent, he drilled a low ball into the path of Stephens, who back-heeled it towards Lloris’s net. Hugo was quick to react and quashed the danger.
On the absolute stroke of halftime, Lucas, Kane, and Son linked up nicely and resulted in a curling shot from Son, which forced Ryan to stretch out and protect his bottom right-hand corner.
It was shortly after the interval when both sides managed to bag their goals. In a lapse of concentration, Gaetan Bong was disposed by Victor Wanyama. The ball was released on the right side of the penalty area. After an impressive display of individual strength from Son, the ball was cut back into the path of Harry Kane, whose deflected shot found the back of the Brighton net in the 48th minute.
It took no longer than 18 seconds for Brighton to respond as Spurs fell into the clichéd trap of being most vulnerable after having just scored. Serge Aurier was the culprit as he made contact with Izquierdo in the penalty area. The decision was an incredibly soft one as Izquierdo was looking for the penalty. However, it was a great bit of flair to get in front of Aurier, and the former-PSG defender should know better than to make contact in that position. Groß stepped up to take the penalty. On his 250th Spurs appearance, Hugo Lloris failed to keep the clean sheet; he got a palm to it, just not a strong enough one.
Later, Shane Duffy almost turned Christian Eriksen’s shot into his own net but missed the post by two inches. Erik Lamela had the best Spurs chance to clinch the winner as the game drew to a close. He found himself firing his effort straight into the path of Mat Ryan.
For me, Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko had a particularly poor game. Neither could execute their passes well enough and at times left their markers in midfield, forfeiting the Spurs shape as a result. Harry Kane clearly is not 100% fit and has rushed his comeback; he was shying away from 50/50 challenges and we saw him jog at times he would usually sprint. Ben Davies got into some really good positions but failed to deliver any threatening crosses. Lucas Moura played well in the first half. The fact that the penalty was powerful is no excuse; Hugo Lloris is a world class keeper and got his palm to the ball, he should have been able to parry that ball to safety. Most notably, Spurs had 63.8% and 16 shots. They simply were not clinical enough. Credit to Brighton who wanted it more, and put in an excellent shift in front of their home fans.
Brighton vs Spurs Attendance
Amex Stadium: 30,440
Starting Line-Ups: Brighton vs Spurs
Brighton & Hove Albion: Ryan, Bong, Dunk, Duffy, Bruno, Izquierdo, Kayal, Stephens, Knockaert, Groß, Murray
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Davies, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Aurier, Wanyama, Sissoko, Son, Eriksen, Lucas Moura, Kane
“I think it was a difficult game, the first half was even. The second half we started well, we scored but conceded. We dominated the chances in the second half. The intention was to get the three points.
“With the changes, we tried to give the team some fresh legs. Saturday was tough, mental and physical, we needed to rotate. I think the most important thing is the big picture, we have a big squad with good players. Everyone is ready to play. We need to give credit to Brighton, they played very well.”
Man of the Match
Pascal Groß was the stand out performer for Brighton tonight. He scored the penalty and found himself involved with a few of the Brighton attacking plays. He also provided nine crosses and two key passes, he was truly at the heart of that Brighton side tonight and deserved the man of the match accolade. If it was my choice, I would have put Knockaert as a close second.
What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur?
Spurs take on Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening.