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Johnson snatches late victory for Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur's Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring their second goal.— Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur's Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring their second goal.— Reuters

London: This was as last-gasp a win as it can get with substitute Brennan Johnson’s 96th minute winning goal, after an inch-perfect cross by substitute Heung-Min Son, sending the Tottenham fans into a frenzy with a 2-1 result against Brighton with six minutes having been added for stoppage time.

Spurs manager, Ange Postecoglou, who had brought on the South Korean after 62 minutes for his first match after returning three days earlier from Asia Cup duties was full of praise for him: “That ball that Sonny plays, that’s a world-class player in a clutch moment. He finds the right pass.

“When you look at his record in the Premier League, the toughest league in the world, his goal contributions irrespective of how the team’s gone and the time he’s been here have always been right up there. Even this year before he left, he was probably the best attacking player in the competition.”

He added: “I thought we did well to cover his absence. Richie (Richarlison) stepped up in terms of goal threat and a few other players. But to have a world-class player back for the run-in is brilliant.”

Brighton had taken the lead in the 17th minute. It began with Rodrigo Bentancur losing the ball on the edge of the box to Pascal Gross who promptly passed to Danny Welbeck and the former England player then played a one-two with Facundo Buonanotte before being tripped by Micky van de Ven. A penalty was awarded and Gross’ shot sent Guglieimo Vicario the wrong way.

Spurs missed a chance soon after when Richarlison’s weak shot from James Maddison’s through pass was saved by the legs of Jason Steele in the Brighton goal. Spurs were behind at the break but equalised 16 minutes of the restart after some excellent work by Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski who made a brilliant pass to Pape Matar Sarr.

The Senegal international’s cross was intercepted by Lewis Dunk but the ball came off the post and into the path of Sarr who shot inside the far post from a tight angle.

Tottenham had chances but these were wasted. Maddison was just wide with a curling shot and Richarlison was wide with his shot from a cross by Timo Werner. After substitutions there was a marked difference in Spurs’ play but towards the latter part of the second half they seemed to lose momentum and Brighton kept fighting hard for second goal.

But just as the certainty of a draw began to appear Johnson grabbed the winner in a counter attack following fine moves by Maddison and Richarlison before that wonderful cross by Son to shock the travelling Brighton fans.

Their assistant manager, Andrea Maldera spoke in the absence of manager, Roberto De Zerbi who is in Italy recovering after dental surgery: “To concede in the 96th minute, in transition, away, is very tough but this is our mentality. We always want the second goal. Until that moment we played a big match with big courage. We have to accept that this is our identity.”

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