Spurs bounce back with much-needed win over Baggies
Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son both score in 2-0 victory over West Brom as Tottenham stop the rot of three straight defeats
07 February, 2021 — By Dan Carrier
SPURS 2 (Kane 54, Son 58)
WEST BROM 0
THE surprise return of Harry Kane to the Tottenham starting line-up today (Sunday) gave Jose Mourinho’s crisis-hit team the lift they needed to overcome struggling West Brom 2-0.
But the real inspiration for a victory that stops the rot of three straight defeats should be laid at the tireless boots of Erik Lamela, who put in a man-of-the-match display at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Kane’s double ankle injury, sustained in the 3-1 defeat against Liverpool on January 28, was at first expected to keep him out until well into the spring.
But there he was this afternoon, leading the line – his ankles surely doused with liquid from the Holy Grail, such was the speed recovery.
Either that, or the injury wasn’t as bad as the perennial, doom-laden theatricals Mourinho employs suggested.
Mourinho said after the match that the decision to start Kane was one made by the striker himself: “he is experienced and able to make that judgement,” the Spurs boss explained.
The so-called “Harry Kane team” was aided by Lamela’s inclusion, too: his effort makes others be in no doubt what putting in a shift looks like.
Against West Brom, the midfielder married energy and passion with creativity, earning plenty of praise from his manager.
“I am very happy for Lamela,” said Mourinho. “I love the way he and [Lucas] Moura came in against Chelsea and so decided to start them today. They are proper team men and I am pleased with what they gave.”
And while Mourinho said earning points was “most important”, he added: “What made me happy was the commitment, desire and togetherness of the team. There was a good dynamic.”
After a poor six weeks since the Leeds victory, and the abject performance against Chelsea in midweek, Mourinho simply had to take the handbrake off.
Struggling West Brom gave Spurs the chance to get out of their rut – and they went for it.
With a dash more luck and a dollop more composure, Tottenham could have walked into the dressing room at half-time with a comfortable lead.
Kane had four good chances, but was undone by a hint of rustiness and the efforts of Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone.
In one five minute spell England’s deadliest marksman could have killed this match off: Kane missing no fewer than three great chances.
On 15 minutes he smacked a shot against the bar, and then Lamela played him in two minutes later – but Kane could only roll a tame effort wide.
The fit-again forward, who played the full 90, also saw another effort deflected wide after cutting back in search of a better angle and just managing to get a shot away.
Other opportunities saw Heung-Min Son twice find the target with efforts that were lacking the punch to beat the keeper, while Serge Aurier saw a header well saved.
It took Tottenham until the 54th minute to get their noses in front: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg laid a precise pass between the Albion back-four, giving Kane the time to control with his left foot and finish with his right.
Four minutes later, the lead was doubled. A rare foray forward from West Brom resulted in Spurs winning back possession and countering at speed.
Moura carried the ball some 60-yards before picking out Son, who made no mistake as he crashed the ball home to seal a 2-0 win.
Lamela’s stirring work playing in the centre of an attacking-midfield with the licence to roam has pleasing tactical implications for Mourinho.
It allowed Tanguy Ndombele to sit alongside Hojbjerg, making a huge difference to Tottenham’s ability to build possession from a solid base.
Ndombele’s strength and comfort is key to dominating the midfield and he does it better than other, deeper options such as Moussa Sissoko or Harry Winks. And if Lamela can play ahead of him, then couldn’t a resurgent Dele Alli or Gio Lo Celso?
Spurs: Lloris, Aurier, (Doherty, 68), Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Lamela (Bergwijn, 74), Moura, Son (Scarlett, 90+3), Kane
Substitutes not used: Hart, Rodon, Dier, Sissoko, Bale, Vinicius
West Brom: Johnstone, Peltier, Bartley, Ajayi, Townsend, Sawyers (Yokuslu, 78), Snodgrass (Costa Pereira, 80), Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Grant (Phillips, 68), Diagne
Substitutes not used: Furlong, Livermore, Button, Robson-Kanu, Robinson, O’Shea