Ange Postecoglou’s brave double change at half time helped Tottenham turn around a half-time deficit to beat Brentford 3-2 in a thrilling Premier League clash.
Trailing to a 15th minute Neal Maupay strike in a fractious contest, Postecoglou changed up his midfield at the break, which had an immediate impact as Destiny Udogie and Brennan Johnson scored within 72 seconds of each other to put Spurs in the lead.
Richarlison added a third after 56 minutes to seemingly put the game to bed.
A gift of a goal for Ivan Toney, who latched onto a poor Udogie backpass in the 67th minute kept Brentford in the contest.
However, Spurs held on for another thoroughly entertaining victory that saw Spurs move back into the Premier League’s top four.
One could be excused from thinking this match was mostly one way traffic based on the possession statistics, but that would be an error in what was a thoroughly entertaining contest.
Tottenham dominated 69 percent of possession and had 19 shots to 10, but Brentford more than played their part by exploiting Spurs’ high line.
The Bees had the ball in the net twice in the first half, the first a warning shot from Mads Roerslev, who was fractionally offside when he was played in behind down the right side.
But the second time it counted, Ivan Toney beating the high line and sliding the ball back to Maupay who slid home.
Led by the goalscorer, Brentford were getting under Spurs’ skin and there was a sense that the hosts were going to have a frustrating evening.
“We got dragged into things we shouldn’t have,” Postecoglou told TNT Sports after the match.
“We were chatting to the ref more than we were playing football.
“We are naive at times, focusing on the wrong things.”
However, Postecoglou doubled down on his attacking philosophy, making a double switch at half time that changed the contest on its head.
Removing central midfielders Ollie Skipp and Rodrigo Bentancur for attacking threats Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and Brennan Johnson was a bold strategy — and it paid instant dividends.
The excellent Timo Werner was provider for both goals as Udogie slid home to bring Spurs level within just three minutes of the restart, and Johnson powered home at the back post with just his second touch of the game to put Spurs ahead.
Richarlison’s seventh goal in as many Premier League games — one more goal than he had scored in his previous 47 top-flight appearances — came via some interplay with the returning James Maddison, who was playing in his first match since November 3.
Toney scored Brentford’s second after being inadvertently played in by a wayward Udogie backpass — his second goal since his return from an eight-month ban for gambling offenses — to keep the game interesting.
But Spurs were able to hold on to move back into the Champions League places, which will surely be the revised aim for Spurs and their buoyant supporters.
“We were really good for the first 25 minutes [in the second half],” Postecoglou said.
“We scored goals and could have had a couple more. Then after their goal it was stop start, but it was entertaining.”
Look back on how all the action unfolded in our live blog.
Show all key events
Thanks for being with us
Thanks for joining us today for what was an excellent game of football.
Spurs are in the top four – can they stay there for the rest of the season and get a spot in next year’s Champions League?
They are on a role at the moment and will look to keep that going heading into this crucial stage of the season.
Thanks for being with us – we’ll catch you next time.
Liverpool 4-1 Chelsea
All over at Anfield as Liverpool remain top of the league with an utterly dominant performance against a woeful Chelsea team.
Brennan Johnson says Postecoglou was ‘disappointed’ at half time
Brennan Johnson spoke to the BBC after the match.
He says that Ange was not best pleased at the break.
“At half time the manager was disappointed,” he says.
“It was big for us to come out and play on the front foot after half-time.
“They [Brentford] are a good team, and we got riled up. In the second half we were able to focus.
“[Ange] explains why we need a big squad, we have had a lot of injuries, so it was probably the right choice for me to have a breather [and start on the bench].
“When I came on I wanted to score, as I haven’t for a while.”
Ange Postecoglou: ‘We were chatting to the ref more than we were playing’
Ange Postecoglou is speaking to TNT Sports in the UK, as reported by the BBC.
“The first half we started off well enough, then we conceded the goal and lost our way,” he says.
“We got dragged into things we shouldn’t have.
“We were chatting to the ref more than we were playing football. We are naive at times, focusing on the wrong things, but that’s all part of our growth.
“In the second half, we were really good for the first 25 minutes, we scored goals and could have had a couple more. Then after their goal it was stop start, but it was entertaining.”
He says the second half was very impressive.
“The lads showed character to come back,” he says.
“For 25 minutes of the second half we were outstanding, the type of team we can be.
“It could have been easy to drop our heads.”
Liverpool now lead 4-1
There might have been a moment where Chelsea thought they could be back in this game at Anfield when Christopher Nkunku scored.
But that hope was extinguished as briefly as it deserved to be honest, when Luis Díaz scored a tap in to keep the positive vibes flowing at Anfield.
A great result for Angie and Spurs. Still there is much to be done to improve the team.
Liverpool lead Chelsea 3-0
Meanwhile, at Anfield, Liverpool are dominating a desperately poor Chelsea team.
Diogo Jota, Conor Bradley and, most recently, Dominik Szoboszlai with the goals – so far.
It’s 3-0 but it could be a lot more than that.
Liverpool had 21 shots, 9 of them on target, to Chelsea’s two total shots.
Manchester City 3-1 Burnley
Was pretty much one way traffic in Manchester.
Julián Álvarez scored a first half double, Rodi added the third just after the resumption.
Ameen AliDakhil scored a consolation in injury time.
FULL TIME! Spurs win and thriller
A brilliant game of football at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Ange Postecoglou earned his cash today – a brilliant, bold double change at half time turned the tide.
That changed then game – and despite Brentford coming back hard late in the second half, it was enough.
90+8′ Brentford sends up the goalkeeper!
Mark Flekken comes up from the back for Brentford’s corner!
This is the last gasp for Brentford.
90+6′ Yellow card Donley
Brentford look to attack after Spurs bring the ball forward, but a clever foul from the youngster gives away a free kick and Spurs time to regather – a first senior yellow card well worth it.
90+5′ CHANCE BRENTFORD!
The back five of Spurs is suddenly under real pressure!
Kristoffer Ajer arrives at the near post and only some really good strong defending from Romero at the front post denies him.
90+3′ CHANCE BRENTFORD!
Baptiste should have leveled it!
A wonderful ball into the penalty area, Shandon Baptiste swung his foot at the ball and it took a brilliant one-handed save from Vicario to deny Brentford an equaliser.
90+3′ Chance Spurs!
Richarlison does really well to make some space in the penalty area and he fires in a shot from an acute angle that is well saved by Flekken.
90′ Yarmoulyuk shown a yellow card
A very firm challenge on Udogie from the Ukrainian with the elbow high – it’s just a yellow card.
Meanwhile, the Antrim-born England youth international Jamie Donley comes on for Dejan Kulusevski.
87′ James Maddison is down
Spurs kicked the ball out while Maddison requested treatment.
This is his comeback match after he left the field injured right at the beginning of November.
Spurs have not lost a match in which he has stayed on the field throughout, in the Premier League.
New signing Radu Drăgușin is the man who comes on – a defender! Angelball must be dead.
Mikkel Damsgaard and Shandon Baptiste come on for Brentford.
78′ Double change for Brentford
Now it’s time for Thomas Frank to make an attacking double change.
Josh Dasilva and Kristoffer Ajer come into the action at the expense of Collins and Roerslev.
Liverpool lead Chelsea 2-0 at the break
Diogo Jota and Conor Bradley have given Liverpool a 2-0 half time lead at Anfield over Chelsea.
76′ Chance Spurs
It’s Porro again, Maddison setting up the fullback on the edge of the penalty area, but it is again blazed over.
72′ Chance Brentford
Spurs have dropped their intensity – and Brentford are sniffing a way back into the game.
Substitute Yegor Yarmolyuk just failed to control the ball in the penalty area after the ball was played into him and Spurs got away with some tentative defending to clear.
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