Dembele’s stunning late strike secures spoils for Tottenham
Victory over Anderlecht puts Spurs in good heart for weekend derby against Arsenal
Mousa Dembele drills home a spectacular winning goal for Tottenham against Anderlecht at White Hart Lane. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
A compelling contest at White Hart Lane looked to be heading for a draw after Harry Kane’s first-half finish was cancelled out by Imoh Ezekiel, but Dembele sealed victory in the 87th minute with a superb strike into the top corner.
The victory is Tottenham’s third in a row in all competitions and means Mauricio Pochettino’s side move one point clear of Monaco with two group games left to play.
Kane was one of four Spurs players to be named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad earlier yesterday – along with Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Kyle Walker – and the striker continued his recent return to form, scoring his fifth goal in three games with a smart shot in the first half.
It was Dembele, however, who grabbed the spotlight, coming off the bench to seal a dramatic win.
Tottenham have struggled to juggle the Europa League with their top-four ambitions in recent seasons but Pochettino resisted the temptation to rest players ahead of the crunch league match against Arsenal at the Emirates, as only Danny Rose, Walker and Dembele dropped out of the starting line-up.
The visitors looked dangerous early on, however, with bruising centre forward Stefano Okaka twice running between Tottenham’s defence in the opening four minutes, with the second occasion needing a last-ditch challenge from Jan Vertonghen to deny the finish.
Spurs were struggling to cope with their opponents’ pace and movement in the first 25 minutes but they needed only one chance to take the lead just before the half-hour.
Okaka had riled the home fans by delaying play with a head injury, but with the striker off the field Tottenham pounced, as Christian Eriksen flicked into the path of Kane, who finished first time into the left corner.
Anderlecht’s early enthusiasm dissipated as Spurs enjoyed the ascendancy either side of half-time and Lamela twice could have doubled the home side’s lead on the break, but first Alli failed to play the final pass and then when Kane did set the Argentinian free he got the ball caught under his feet.
Eriksen was replaced by Son Heung-min just before the hour, the South Korean returning from six weeks out with a foot problem, and moments later Ben Davies crashed a dipping volley against the crossbar.
The contest was opening up, however, and as Tottenham let their intensity drop, Anderlecht capitalised, with Ezekiel nipping between Davies and Vertonghen before steering the ball past Lloris for pull the game level.
The game looked to be heading for a draw but substitute Dembele had other ideas as Son teed the ball up perfectly on the edge of the box and the midfielder crashed a stunning strike into the top corner.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Mason (Dembele 73), Dier, Alli (Onomah 77), Eriksen (Son 58), Lamela, Kane. Subs not used: Vorm, Fazio, Wimmer, Carroll.
ANDERLECHT: Proto, Gillet, Mbodji, Deschacht, N’Sakala (Conte 82), Najar, Dendoncker, Defour, Acheampong (Sylla 89), Tielemans (Ezekiel 68), Okaka. Subs not used: Roef, Suarez, Nuytinck, Lukebakio. Booked: N’Sakala.
Referee: Orel Grinfeld (Israel).