Gareth Bale was the difference maker and Harry Kane was among those who stood out as Tottenham eked out a 2-1 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday.
In a game that was dominated by contentious VAR calls rather than free-flowing chances, it was Tottenham who grabbed an early lead through a Harry Kane penalty. However, that was not before VAR had changed referee Graham Scott’s decision to award the hosts a free-kick on the edge of the Brighton box to the spot-kick after Kane had drawn a foul from Adam Lallana.
Soon after, Tottenham were lucky to escape without conceding a penalty of their own after VAR adjudged Matt Doherty to not have fouled Leandro Trossard. Brighton eventually had their goal but not before another controversial moment early in the second half, with Solly March deemed not to have fouled Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the build-up to Tariq Lamptey’s equaliser.
The goal you've waited seven years for…
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 1, 2020
However, Tottenham would have the last laugh, as Gareth Bale headed in coolly from Sergio Reguilon’s inch-perfect cross to score his first for the club since making his return from Real Madrid. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men, who climbed up to second on the Premier League table with the win over Brighton.
Hugo Lloris: 6/10
There was not a lot that Lloris had to do on the night. With Tottenham dominating the proceedings, the captain was content with doing more work with his feet than with his gloves. Indeed, he made just 1 save all game and could not have done much to deny Tariq Lamptey for Brighton’s equaliser.
Matt Doherty: 6/10
A tricky evening for Doherty, who was lucky to escape without conceding a penalty – which would have been the third he has conceded in his short Tottenham career. Hardly an outlet going forward, something he needs to address. At the back, he had a tough time dealing with the double pressure of Adam Lallana and Solly March, but had his fair share of positive moments as well.
Toby Alderweireld: 8/10
A solid display at the heart of the Tottenham defence. Alderweireld initially looked like he was struggling against the nippy Leandro Trossard. But appearances can be deceiving and that was precisely the case with the Belgian, who kept the Brighton striker quiet expertly. Had a role to play in Gareth Bale’s goal, as a beautiful diagonal ball opened up play before the winner was scored.
Eric Dier: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup after being rested for the midweek UEFA Europa League game, Dier was a solid partner alongside Alderweireld. The Englishman made a critical block in addition to a team-high 6 clearances while also being unbeatable in the air. Crucially precise with the ball at his feet, losing possession just 6 times.
Sergio Reguilon: 6.5/10
A game of hits and misses for Reguilon. The former Real Madrid full-back posed a great deal of threat down the left flank, completing 8 long passes in addition to the corner that found Bale for the match-winning goal. At the back, however, there were one or two iffy moments against Lamptey, most notably before the youngster scored the equaliser for Brighton.
Moussa Sissoko: 7/10
As ever, Sissoko ran himself into the ground in order to keep the opposition as far away from the defence as possible. The Frenchman won 2 duels while completing a couple of interceptions as well, but was a little suspect on the ball. For someone who had just 34 touches, losing possession 8 times is not a good omen. Needs to address the ball-playing issue, but solid defensively.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 8/10
Should Brighton's equaliser have been disallowed for a foul on Hojbjerg? 🤨
— Amazon Prime Video Sport (@primevideosport) November 1, 2020
The pivotal figure for Tottenham in the middle of the park in most games, Hojbjerg was a big reason why Brighton hardly tested Lloris despite constantly taking the game to Spurs. The Dane misplaced just 6 of the 56 passes he attempted, looking to set a quick tempo to the game.
More importantly, though, Hojbjerg was a rock when looking to keep Brighton quiet, winning 3 tackles, completing 2 interceptions and making 2 clearances to keep the ball away from the box. Was quite unlucky to be deemed to have lost the ball in the build-up to Lamptey’s goal instead of having a foul awarded to him for a poor tackle by March.
Tanguy Ndombele: 6/10
A rare off day for Ndombele, who struggled to impose himself high up the pitch. The Frenchman was quite scattered throughout his stay on the pitch and saw very little of the ball. When he did get the possession, he was very wasteful, much to the frustration of Mourinho, who hauled him off at the hour mark.
Erik Lamela: 6.5/10
Lamela was typically a prickly customer on the right side of the Tottenham attack and was rather unlucky to not go home without a goal to show for his efforts. Worked hard off the ball, winning 5 duels. However, he was a tad bit sloppy in possession too, at times. Played his part before Kane won the penalty, opening up play with a brilliant flick. Taken off for Bale.
Harry Kane: 7/10
Harry Kane has 6 goals and 8 assists in the Premier League already this season.
It’s only his 7th game 🤯 pic.twitter.com/MjftMejbOT
— B/R Football (@brfootball) November 1, 2020
Not the best of outings for Kane, although that was largely due to the fact that he and strike partner Son Heung-min were starved of service for much of the game. Kane, though, did his bit, converting from the spot with his trademark driven penalty. Had a great chance to double his tally, only to hit the woodwork from close range. On the cusp of goal no. 200 for Tottenham.
Son Heung-min: 6/10
One of the quieter outings for Son, who failed to add to his tally versus Brighton. The South Korean forward was rendered anonymous for large parts of the game and he completed just 10 of his 16 attempted passes. Heavily involved in the build-up to the opening goal but faded dramatically after the initial 15-minute burst. A rare blip.
Giovani Lo Celso: 6/10
On for Ndombele, Lo Celso pretty much continued from where the incumbent had left off. The only difference was he came close to scoring with a long-range effort. Stitched together 2 chances but also frustrating with the way he lost the ball at times.
Gareth Bale: 8/10
The man who made all the difference in the end. Given the final 20 minutes to make an impact, Bale finally had his moment under the sun following the popular return from Real Madrid. Just moments after being introduced, Bale set Kane up for a glorious chance, only to see the Tottenham striker miss from point-blank range.
7y 166d – Gareth Bale has scored his first Tottenham goal in 7 years & 166 days, last doing so on his farewell appearance for the club vs Sunderland back in May 2013. He scored exactly 200 seconds after entering the pitch. Yardage. pic.twitter.com/IJxGooyUgI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 1, 2020
Bale then took matters into his own hands, converting Reguilon’s inch-perfect cross with a precise header to win the game for Tottenham. That was his first goal since marking his return to his home, seven years after he had scored his last for Spurs. Just the kind of moment he might have needed to get back to his best.
Ben Davies: N/A
A late introduction, Davies helped see the game out.