Watford 1 Tottenham 2: If Tottenham have ambitions to do more than simply finish in the top four, they will need more performances like this, where they showed character and resilience to grind out a somewhat fortuitous victory against a Watford side reduced to 10 men for the final half-hour.

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Mauricio Pochettino refuses to get carried away with Tottenham title talk

Watford 1 Tottenham 2: If Tottenham have ambitions to do more than simply finish in the top four, they will need more performances like this, where they showed character and resilience to grind out a somewhat fortuitous victory against a Watford side reduced to 10 men for the final half-hour.

Mauricio Pochettino refuses to get carried away with Tottenham title talk

A last-gasp goal from Son Heung Min was enough to give Spurs all three points and move them into third place, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, but Mauricio Pochettino’s men rode their luck at times, even when Watford went down to 10 after Nathan Ake was sent off in the 64th minute for a high tackle on Erik Lamela.

Referee Anthony Taylor was roundly booed by home supporters but replays showed that the Dutch defender, on loan from Chelsea, deserved to see red for a rash challenge.

Yet Tottenham’s Dele Alli could have had the same punishment for a diving tackle early on, and there was a hint of offside in the build-up to the winning goal from Son, who had replaced Tom Carroll 20 minutes earlier.

No wonder Quique Sanchez Flores, the Watford manager, had words with the referee at the final whistle and had to be at his most diplomatic in the post-match press conference.

“Every decision went in a bad way against us, but I am proud of my players, the way they fought against an amazing team,” he said.

Pochettino was much the happier manager, though he will not let his players get carried away by talk of challenging for the title.

Keeping their feet on the ground is ‘the key’ he said.

“This is very important. We must keep working hard and behave in the same way that we started in the league six months ago.”

Pochettino acknowledged how tough a test an in-form Watford offered, though. “Liverpool lost 3-0 here last week, so we knew it would be difficult, but the maturity we showed and the way that we fought was fantastic,” he added. “This was a great victory.”

Aware of the threat posed by Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, who have scored the vast majority of Watford’s goals this season, Pochettino changed his tactics, withdrawing Eric Dier from midfield to play as a third central defender.

The plan appeared to work for the opening 40 minutes or so, as Spurs took control of the game and took the lead in the 17th minute.

Craig Cathcart, the Watford central defender, was caught in possession by Alli close to the centre circle, and the ball was fed to Lamela, who ran towards goal before firing a low shot through the legs of Miguel Britos and into the net.

Lamela could have had a second minutes later when Harry Kane led a quick break and crossed from the left, but the Argentinian’s first-time shot was wide.

Ighalo went close with a similar first-time effort at the opposite end, and Jose Jurado forced Hugo Lloris to dive full length to keep out his shot.

Kane went close with a dipping shot from 25 yards, but then Watford equalised, and inevitably it was Ighalo. A flick into the penalty area from Deeney seemed innocuous enough, but as Dier struggled to get the ball away, Ighalo wriggled clear to stab a shot past Lloris from close range.

The second half was even until Ake was sent off for his lunge on Lamela, who was Tottenham’s brightest player.

Yet the sending-off seemed to embolden Watford, while Spurs started to make unforced errors.

Roared on by a passionate home support, Watford tried to hit Spurs on the break and forced a series of set-pieces which caused panic in the visitors’ defence, not least when a corner from Ben Watson went within a whisker of crossing the goal-line.

But with time running out, and Watford appearing to have got a point from Tottenham as they did at Chelsea on Saturday, Son struck.

The Korean looked offside when Kieran Tripper crossed from the right, and former Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes punched clear. But when Trippier curled in a second cross from the loose ball, Son cleverly flicked it with the back of his heel through the legs of Gomes and celebrated in front of the joyous travelling supporters.

WATFORD 4-4-2:

Gomes 6; Anya 6, Cathcart 5, Britos 6 (Prodl 60 6), Ake 5; Abdi 6 (Behrami 46 6), Capoue 6, Watson 6, Jurado 6 (Nyom 68); Deeney 7 Ighalo 7

TOTTENHAM 3-5-1-1:

Lloris 6; Alderweireld 7, Dier 6, Vertonghen 7; Trippier 7, Dembele 7 (Eriksen 44, 6); Lamela 8, Alli 7 (Chadli 81), Carroll 6 (Son 68, 7), Rose 6; Kane 6.

Referee:

Anthony Taylor

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