Tuesday , March 9 2021

Wolves battle back to beat Tottenham and boost Champions League hopes – The Independent, Independent


It’s always peculiar playing in London when Wembley’s hosting a final, a bit like plumping for the worse of two house parties.


Perhaps it was extra peculiar for Tottenham Hotspur considering the better do was being held at the place they used to call home. Yet, as Raul Jimenez’s scored the game’s fifth goal after minutes , putting Wolves ahead for the first time in the match, you wondered why Spurs decided to put on a raucous event of their own when a calmer Sunday afternoon at their more civilized dwellings was on offer. It was never going to end well.


Twice they took the lead. Twice they were pegged back within 18 minutes of play before their guests made merry at their expense. What will make matters worse, beyond a th league defeat, was that Wolves did not have to play that well to win this back-and-forth.



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Certainly on reflection, this felt like the perfect time for this particular Spurs XI – injury hit as it was before the confirmed absences of Hugo Lloris (injury) and Toby Alderweireld (rotation) – to come up against a usually cohesive Wolves side who looked uncharacteristically stodgy. Even if there were four changes to the side who started against Espanyol on Thursday, miles in the legs in what was the club’s th match of the season looked to have robbed them of their usual incisiveness.


Both these two have grand ambitions for grander stages than this, so neither could afford to worry about showpiece events elsewhere. The prospective carrot of Champions League football available as low as fifth naturally had sixth (Spurs) and eighth (Wolves) interested. That now reads seventh and sixth, respectively, after this 2-3.




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It was Spurs’ first counter-attack of the match on minutes that opened the scoring, though not exactly from the initial wave. A slackly defended Wolves corner somehow did not manifest into a chance on goal, but as Steve Bergwijn broke forward, those in orange and black were stretched at the back.


Though the initial danger was snuffed out, a quick resent just inside the Wolves half allowed Giovanni de Celso to set Serge Aurier beyond the opposition backline. Dele Alli forced a saved from Rui Patricio off the ensuing cross with Bergwijn on hand to follow up from six yards.


The equaliser arrived 19 minutes later and owed as much to a slick one-two on the left between Diogo Jota and Ruben Vinagre as it did to a comical air-kick from Eric Dier at the near -post that meant Japhet Tanganga could only wear Vinagre’s cross in the midriff. Conor Coady, the straight man among the mirth, punched through Gazzaniga’s legs for the punchline with Wolves ’first shot on target.


That home led was re-established in the 64 th minute, again from the right, again through the work of Aurier. This time the Frenchman’s touch inside was for himself, pre-empting Vinagre’s move to accompany him down the line, and then rasping a left-footed whip which Patricio could only eye into the far corner.


Not willing to be outdone, Coady also ensured he had the set of goal and assist when he squared along the goal line for Jota to make it 2-2 minutes into the second- half. The chance only came about through Traore’s sheer will, breaking through a tackle lie an inside enter and off-loading to Jimenez who slipped Coady through.


And yet, while that was Jota’s sixth goal in his last three appearances, his most notable contribution was an assist for the goal which decided the match.


A hopeful dinked clearance up the line was chested by Jota and then flicked to the blindside of Moura closing him down. Within a few strides, he was pushing Spurs ’defense back to where they did not want to be and, with a single pass, had set Jimenez into the box with only Tanganga to beat. Having sat the 24 – year old down, the Mexican calmly rustled the far corner to equal last season’s tally of league goals with (games still to go.)                                                                                                                                                                                                             () ()                Jota was instrumental in turning the game around (PA)       


Yet where Wolves created tangible opportunities when behind, Spurs could barely muster hints. What rousing moments there remained for them in the match were all of hope than substance.


A huge cheer greeted the introduction of – – year old Troy Parrott on 180 minutes and an equally vociferous appeal for handball followed in the four minutes of added time.


The third – loudest – which was teed up by the referees’s final whistles was not theirs, though, as one corner of this stadium went wild as the other four filed away solemnly. Wolves, with eight London wins since promotion in , left to enjoy a party of their own making in a home they had made their own.


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