Tottenham win to give embattled Nuno breathing space

Published October 4, 2021
LONDON: Aston Villa’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez cannot prevent a shot from Tottenham Hotspur’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg opening the scoring during their English Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. — AFP
LONDON: Aston Villa’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez cannot prevent a shot from Tottenham Hotspur’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg opening the scoring during their English Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. — AFP

LONDON: Tottenham Hot­spur beat Aston Villa on Sunday to ease the pressure on manager Nuno Espi­rito Santo as Liverpool and Man­chester City prepared to lock horns at the top of the Premier League.

Elsewhere, Leicester City let a 2-0 lead slip at Crystal Palace to draw 2-2 while new boys Brentford scored deep into stoppage time to beat West Ham United 2-1.

Tottenham were surprise early pacesetters this season but three straight defeats with an aggregate score of 9-1 sent them tumbling down the table.

Former Wolves boss Nuno was not first choice to replace Jose Mourinho in the close-season and there have already been murmurings that Tottenham’s players are bored of his training methods.

But Sunday’s 2-1 home win against in-form Villa will buy the Portuguese boss some breathing space as players head into the international break.

Spurs looked shaky again when Ollie Watkins cancelled out Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s first-half opener but a Matt Targett own goal in the 71st minute proved decisive.

The win lifts Spurs to eighth in the Premier League table, two points outside the top four.

“Good, good, good,” Nuno told Sky Sports. “We needed a win but a well-deserved win. We did a good match against tough opponents. Important for us, the boys and the fans. We reacted well after conceding and positive in a lot of ways.”

Leicester, who have grown used to life near the top of the table in recent seasons, travelled to Selhurst Park without a Premier League win since August.

Crystal Palace dominated the early exchanges but the visitors snatched the lead through Kelechi Iheanacho just after the half-hour mark and Jamie Vardy doubled the lead six minutes later.

Palace got a goal back on the hour, with substitute Michael Olise firing past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel at the second time of asking and fellow substitute Jeffrey Schlupp headed the home side level.

Across London, Bryan Mbeumo put Brentford in front against West Ham only to see his effort cancelled out 10 minutes from full-time by Jarrod Bowen.

But replacement Yoane Wissa had the final say when he blasted home in the 94th minute after the hosts failed to clear from a Mathias Jensen free-kick.

Liverpool will kick off their match against City at Anfield second in the Premier League, one point ahead of the defending champions.

The two teams have dominated the English top-flight in recent years, with City winning the title in three of the past four seasons and Liverpool finishing top of the pile in 2020.

Earlier on Sunday, Watford announced the sacking of head coach Xisco Munoz after a poor start to the Premier League season.

RUDDERLESS GUNNERS

Brighton & Hove Albion created a slew of chances but failed to get many of them on target as they were held to a 0-0 draw by a rudderless Arsenalon Saturday.

On a wet, blustery evening, defender Lewis Dunk fluffed a golden chance to give the home side the lead in the 21st minute, blazing the ball high over the bar after it was spilled by Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Brighton dominated the opening 45 minutes but it was Arsenal who went closest to scoring as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang headed against the post from a tight angle during a rare first-half attack.

For all their possession, Brighton struggled to get shots on target and they were almost punished when Emile Smith Rowe broke away in the 75th minute, but Robert Sanchez was able to steer his shot behind for a corner.

With the final whistle approaching the Seagulls turned the screw as they created a flurry of late chances, but the Arsenal rearguard held firm despite conceding 21 goal-scoring opportunities to claim a scarcely-deserved point.

The result sees Brighton rise to fifth in the table on 14 points after seven games, two behind leaders Chelsea. Arsenal are ninth on 10 points.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2021

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