Dele Alli spares Spurs blushes in Baggies draw
Dele Alli rescued a point for Tottenham Hotspur in a 1-1 draw away to West Bromwich Albion yesterday after it looked as if the Premier League high-flyers might suffer an agonising defeat. The visitors dominated possession only for Nacer Chadli, a player Spurs sold to West Brom in pre-season, to put the hosts in front eight minutes from time against the run of play. But Alli poked a low shot home in the 89th minute after a shot by Christian Eriksen had been blocked, with the draw seeing Spurs drop to third in the table after arch north London rivals Arsenal beat Swansea 3-2.
Ben Foster, the West Brom and former England goalkeeper, repeatedly defied Spurs, who had 77 percent of first-half possession, with a series of saves.
The result meant an end to a run of five successive victories in all competitions for Tottenham, but means that they remain the Premier League’s only unbeaten team.
Tottenham began the match pressing high up the pitch as usual yet the home side still tried to play the ball out. But before long they were reduced to long passes that were easily defended by the visitors. Spurs had no such problems keeping possession and might have created a presentable opening in the seventh minute if Vincent Janssen had passed left to Erik Lamela instead of right to Moussa Sissoko, who was outpaced by Allan Nyom.
Lamela did get a chance minutes later but dragged his shot wide of the far post. Spurs, though, were hitting their stride. Ben Davies hit a shot that was deflected just over the crossbar with Foster wrong-footed, and a similar effort from Eriksen was deflected wide.
Janssen, without looking like a replacement for Harry Kane in goal-scoring terms, held the ball up well and made life tough for Gareth McAuley and Jonny Evans.
West Brom conceded possession easily, even when Spurs did not press them.
That meant that they were regularly backpedalling towards their own goal. As a result, Eriksen and Alli had a surprising amount of space and Tottenham looked increasingly dangerous as they saw more and more of the ball.
Alli had a shot blocked by Foster blocked and then sent an acrobatic overhead effort wide of goal. Foster then produced a hat-trick of superb saves within seven minutes. First Davies hit the ball low through a crowd of players but Foster sprawled to his left.
Then Janssen’s touch sent Alli clear but again Foster blocked his shot. Finally Eriksen collected the ball 20 yards out and shot low to the goalkeeper’s right only to see the ball palmed around the post at the last second.
Tottenham almost fell to a sucker punch late in the first half when Hugo Lloris failed to handle James McClean’s angled shot, but none of the home side were able to convert the rebound. Early in the second half Tottenham were forced to replace Belgium defender Toby Alderweireld, who stayed down after a challenge and left on a stretcher, but they continued to make chances and Sissoko, Eriksen and Alli all went close before Albion shocked the whole of The Hawthorns by taking the lead.
This time it was Lloris who produced a superb save, touching McClean’s low shot onto the foot of a post, but he could not stop Chadli thumping the rebound into the roof of the net. Now Spurs’ character was tested. But they responded. Substitute Son Heung-Min crossed from the left, yet another shot by Eriksen was charged down, and Alli swept the loose ball in from close range.