Po­chet­tino re­lief as Spurs sur­vive Wolves fightback

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Jon Cul­ley at Mo­lineux

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino ad­mit­ted that his Tot­ten­ham team made life dif­fi­cult for them­selves be­fore see­ing out a win that puts them back in the top four of the Pre­mier League.

The man­ager, how­ever, added that af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment of last Mon­day’s home de­feat to Manch­ester City, the win over Wolves was a good re­sponse to the crit­i­cism lev­elled at the club by Gary Neville.

Goals by Erik Lamela, Lu­cas Moura and Harry Kane put Spurs 3-0 up af­ter 61 min­utes, only for the home side, who had a first-half goal in­cor­rectly ruled off­side, to score twice from the penalty spot.

Neville sug­gested that Tot­ten­ham had tra­di­tion­ally been “spineless and flaky” un­der pres­sure, with a clear im­pli­ca­tion that it was a char­ac­ter­is­tic that was still present.

“When we were 3-0 up and the whole sta­dium thought the game was over, we need to learn about how to play se­ri­ously and not make mis­takes and not al­low op­po­nents to stay in the game,” Po­chet­tino said. “So while I am pleased with the three points I am dis­ap­pointed with some of our play.

“I ac­cept crit­i­cism but since I ar­rived here we have cre­ated a very good cul­ture about fight and be­lief. We can win or we can lose but we are so in­tense and to­day the ef­fort was fan­tas­tic. The team has a very strong char­ac­ter.”

Tot­ten­ham, al­ready miss­ing Eric Dier, Vic­tor Wanyama, Danny Rose, Jan Ver­tonghen and Dele Alli, had to re­cover from the dis­rup­tion to their planning when they lost Mousa Dem­bele within four min­utes, af­ter the mid­fielder came off worst in an ac­ci­den­tal col­li­sion with Wolves’ Helder Costa.

Dem­bele seemed to suf­fer an an­kle in­jury and seems un­likely to be avail­able for the cru­cial Cham­pi­ons League tie with PSV Eind­hoven on Tues­day.

Two Spurs goals in the space of three min­utes then left Wolves, seek­ing to avoid a third straight de­feat, need­ing to re­build their con­fi­dence.

Both were too eas­ily con­ceded, the first com­ing from a sim­ple one-two be­tween Lamela and sub­sti­tute Son He­ung Min, the for­mer side-foot­ing com­fort­ably through Rui Pa­tri­cio for his fourth goal of the sea­son.

But if that one was dif­fi­cult for Wolves head coach Nuno Espir­ito Santo to watch, then the sec­ond would have had him look­ing away in hor­ror as Kieran Trip­pier floated in a cross for an un­marked Moura to head home.

It left the home side with much to do, although they were wrongly de­nied a goal as Raul Jimenez drove home on a pull-back from Matt Do­herty only for the lat­ter to be flagged off­side, when he was prob­a­bly a yard on­side.

The sec­ond half brought re­newed vigour from the home side, who were un­lucky again not to score in a flurry of at­tacks, par­tic­u­larly when Jimenez had Hugo Lloris beat­ing away a vol­ley only for Costa to lose his foot­ing at the key mo­ment with the re­bound spin­ning to­wards him. Lloris then saved from Costa and Ruben Neves.

But an­other mis­take at the back by Wolves handed Tot­ten­ham a third goal and with it seem­ingly the guar­an­tee of three points as Kane seized the chance to score his first goal in four matches in the Pre­mier League. The striker found him­self un­marked in the box with the ball at his feet and, though Pa­tri­cio blocked his first at­tempt, he could not keep out the sec­ond. With a lit­tle un­der a quar­ter of the game left, Wolves then did score, Neves con­vert­ing from the spot af­ter Juan Foyth, the 20-year-old Ar­gen­tine de­fender mak­ing his league de­but, had brought down Jimenez.

Costa should have re­duced the deficit to a sin­gle goal when through with only Lloris to beat, push­ing the ball just wide. Yet the mo­men­tum was with Wolves by then and a sec­ond penalty, con­verted by Jimenez af­ter the un­for­tu­nate Foyth brought down Jonny, made for a breath­less con­clu­sion.

Ju­bi­lant: Lu­cas Moura is con­grat­u­lated by Harry Kane af­ter scor­ing Spurs’ sec­ond goal

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