Tottenham Hotspur’s smash-and-grab stuns Swansea City
Dele Alli’s 88th minute equaliser opens the floodgates as Paul Clement’s side capitulate
Son Heung-min scored Tottenham’s second as they came from behind to sink Swansea. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty
Swansea City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3
Tottenham kept their title hopes alive with a dramatic win over relegation-threatened Swansea as Dele Alli, Son Heung-min and Christian Eriksen struck late on at the Liberty Stadium. Alli deservedly cancelled out Wayne Routledge’s opener in the 89th minute and with the referee Jon Moss indicating seven minutes of added time, Son pounced on a Vincent Janssen flick to slot past Lukasz Fabianski and Christian Eriksen sealed what could yet prove to be a vital three points as he waltzed through Swansea’s defence to score the third.
Up to that point, it had been a night of frustration for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, but their dominance of this encounter meant they deserved to win. For Swansea, this was a bitter pill to swallow. Routledge’s first-half goal had given them hope, but they were unable to hold on and the nature of this defeat could yet cause potential long-term damage to their top-flight survival hopes. For Tottenham, it was a different story as Pochettino’s celebrations at their late salvo said everything about the importance of these three points.
Looking to keep pace with leaders Chelsea, Tottenham lost captain Hugo Lloris to illness before kick-off, Michel Vorm stepping in between the posts at late notice against his former club. For Swansea, ex-Spurs Kyle Naughton, Tom Carroll, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Routledge all started, while striker Fernando Llorente failed to brush off an ankle knock. Tottenham, through Son Heung-min and then Moussa Sissoko, wasted glorious early chances from Swansea errors, and soon fell behind. A long pump forward from Lukasz Fabianski found Ayew, who outstripped Ben Davies and crossed for Routledge to poke home from inside the six-yard box.
It was a poor goal for the visitors to concede, but it failed to stop them dominating possession and only some heroic blocks from Federico Fernández preserved the hosts’ lead. It was attack against defence, Christian Eriksen’s shot from distance easily saved by Fabianski while Kyle Walker should have done better with a volleyed cross. Swansea’s only outlet was Ayew –booked for a challenge on Alli – but their defensive shape, which has been impressive under Clement, held firm. Tottenham, despite monopolising the ball, couldn’t get the final pass to stick despite Alli’s probing and went into the interval behind after Son put Davies’ pullback over the bar just before the break.
The second half started with claims for a penalty from either side. First, Ayew went down under a Toby Alderweireld challenge, and then Son appealed for handball after his shot was blocked by Fernández. Jon Moss waved away both appeals, but with Tottenham reverting to a 3-4-3 formation at half-time, the game was now a lot more even. Routledge came close to a second, twisting Davies inside out and cutting inside from the right, before putting a left-foot shot just wide of Vorm’s upright. The chance gave the home crowd belief, the Liberty Stadium rocking as they tried to urge their side clear of the drop zone.
Eric Dier then became the latest Tottenham player to put in an effort on goal, shooting wide from 30 yards, before Pochettino withdrew the ineffective Sissoko in favour of Vincent Janssen. The Dutch striker, who has had little impact at White Hart Lane this season, went straight up top alongside Son, charged with bringing Spurs back into the contest, but the game went into the final 20 minutes still with the home side ahead.
Clement’s first substitution saw him forced into action, replacing the injured Naughton with Ki Sung-yueng. Leroy Fer moved to right back, with the South Korean in midfield. Tottenham had looked almost certain to score all evening, and eventually they broke through to get the goals their efforts deserved.
It took until the final 10 minutes, but after Fabianski had injured himself blocking Janssen’s effort and then produced a wonder save to deny Alli, the England man levelled the scores. Alli tapped home after Eriksen’s effort deflected across the Swansea box to leave a home crowd of 20,855 deflated. Most of them thought they’d have to settle for a point, but worse was to come. With Moss indicating the huge length of added time, Son made it 2-1 and Eriksen added the coup de grace to leave Pochettino dancing a jig of delight in front of the away end at full time.