Tottenham 2 Swansea 1: If Tottenham go on to win the Premier League this season then they will surely look back on this as a defining day.
Trailing 1-0 with 20 minutes to go, it looked as though former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski was going to single-handedly put a stop to their title chase.
But in the way that champions do, Tottenham found a way through.
Nacer Chadli came off the bench to equalise, before Danny Rose fired home the winner with 13 minutes to go when all hope had seemed lost.
“We deserved the win with the way we played,” said Eric Dier after a breathtaking finale.
“It shows our character and how far we have come. We showed maturity, stayed calm. It was a case of being patient.”
Without a fixture for over a fortnight one might have suspected that Swansea would start slowly, but instead they called Hugo Lloris into action after a matter of minutes. Gylfi Sigurdsson broke into the box and cut the ball back for Alberto Paloschi, but his effort was tipped over the bar.
Spurred into action by that lapse, Tottenham quickly got into their stride and began to show why they are among the title contenders. Erik Lamela scooped an effort over the bar from five yards, before Fabianski denied Harry Kane with the first of several stunning saves.
It felt as though the deadlock was about to be broken and indeed it was — just not at the end anyone expected.
With 19 minutes gone Swansea silenced White Hart Lane as Paloschi fired home from inside the box after Angel Rangel’s shot had been deflected into his path.
The visitors’ lead was against the run of play and a barking Mauricio Pochettino urged his players to find an equaliser. They responded but in Fabianski they faced a goalkeeper who was having one of those days.
First the Poland international dived full stretch to thwart Christian Eriksen’s free-kick and then moments later he denied Kane twice in quick succession.
Heung-Min Son was next to be frustrated and, minutes before the interval, Fabianski produced his best save of the match. Rose broke down the left and cut it back for the on-rushing Dier. A simple tap-in seemed inevitable but somehow his effort was clawed away and Spurs went into the break wondering how they were behind.
The second-half brought no change to the pattern of the game: Tottenham attacked; Fabianski denied them, Eriksen’s 25-yard free-kick the latest effort batted away.
Chadli was brought on to help the cause and it was the Belgian who came up with the equaliser. Fabianski punched clear at a corner, but it was drilled back in by Kyle Walker and Chadli was on hand to guide the ball home from inside the six-yard box.
The goal lifted the roof off White Hart Lane and, with 20 minutes to go, there was a belief among the home fans that all three points were there for the taking.
And with 13 minutes remaining Rose delivered the goods. Once again a corner proved to be the source as the clearing header landed at the feet of Rose, who slammed the ball in from the edge of the box.
The relief was evident for all to see on Pochettino’s face as the Argentine threw his hands into the air. Spurs’ title chase is alive and kicking.
Lloris 7; Walker 7, Alderweireld 7, Wimmer 6, Rose 8; Eriksen 8, Dier 6; Son 6 (74 Mason 5), Alli 5, Lamela 5 (61 Chadli 7); Kane 6 (83 Onomah 5).
Subs not used:
Vorm, Davies, Trippier, Bentaleb.
Fabianski 9; Rangel 7, Fernandez 6, Williams 7, Taylor 6; Cork 6, Britton 6 (74 Fer), Ki 7 (82 Gomis); Ayew 5, Sigurdsson 5; Paloschi 7 (87 Barrow 5).
Subs not used:
Nordfeldt, Naughton, Amat, Routledge.
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