Pochettino praises ‘character’ as Spurs leave it late to beat Burnley
15 December, 2018 — By Dan Carrier at Wembley
SPURS 1 (Eriksen 90)
CHRISTIAN Eriksen stepped off the bench and provided a moment of quality to grab a late, late winner at Wembley today – and rack up another three points for Spurs as they chase Liverpool and Manchester City.
Sean Dyche’s Burnley team had come to defend, and to waste as much time as possible while doing it – a frustrating element of gamesmanship that led to three bookings. Yet their game plan nearly paid off as Spurs knocked, knocked and knocked again on the door but a combination of luck and wayward finishing kept the scores even – until Eriksen stepped onto a ball nudged into his path by Harry Kane and swept it home.
Speaking after the game, Mauricio Pochettino said he was pleased by his players determination to keep pushing right until the end.
“It is a very good week for us, a fantastic win for us today,” said the Spurs boss.
“After the Barcelona game, and qualifying for the next stage of the Champions League, it is difficult to find the way to perform like this.Today I congratulate my players’ effort and the 50,000 fans. It was a late victory but so important for us.
“The character to always push to the end shows great belief and faith in the way we play. That pleases me the most.”
He acknowledged how hard Burnley had made it for Spurs, adding: “We dominated possession, they put a lot of players behind the ball and play deep and wanted to stop us.
“On an afternoon like today, with the rain and the pitch not in best condition, we were not fresh enough to find tempo with the ball, so it is difficult to play and I think that is why I am so pleased.”
Tottenham’s side had a slightly makeshift look about it, perhaps with the exertions of Barcelona on Tuesday still in the limbs, and with an eye on Wednesday’s Carabao Cup visit to Arsenal.
Oliver Skipp, 18, made his full league debut. Ben Davies was drafted in to play as a centre-half – a role he has filled for Wales – as Jan Vertonghen struggled with a thigh strain, Eric Dier was laid low with a virus and Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth were still unavailable.
In the end, it mattered little as Burnley rarely remembered that was not a game of attack versus defence and they were allowed, if the mood should take them, to cross the halfway line.
A first half saw Spurs prod and probe, as if they knew something wouldeventually come their way if they just kept at it.
The second half was much the same, though with admittedly a little more urgency as the clock ticked down.
Erik Lamela saw his shot smothered on the line by Joe Hart on 74 minutes, then a flowing break following Burnley’s sole corner of the match saw the ball worked up the pitch until Danny Rose flashed in a cross that deserved a finish. Substitute Heung Min Son then wriggled into space, met a chestdown from Fernando Llorente, but pulled his close-range shot across the face of the goal and wide.
To compound matters, Dele Alli struck a shot into the side-netting with just two minutes remaining. It felt like that was that, until the decisive moment came in added time: Kane controlled it centrally, toed the ball into Eriksen’s path and he swept it home.
It was Pochettino’s 100th league victory in charge at Spurs and keeps them on the shoulders of the leaders.
Spurs: Lloris, Trippier, Rose, Davies, Alderweireld, Kane, Lamela (Llorente, 81), Sissoko, Alli, Moura (Eriksen, 64), Skipp (Son, 75).
Subs: Gazzaniga, Winks, Walker-Peters, Eyoma.
Burnley: Hart, Taylor, Cork, Tarkowski, Mee, Barnes (Wood, 79), Brady, Westwood, Lennon (Vokes, 90), Bardsley, Long.
Subs: Heaton, Lowton, Vokes, Hendrick, Gibson, Vydra.