Tottenham struggle to shake off a game Norwich, but end wait for league win
Tottenham 2 Norwich City 1
Tottenham claimed their first league win – and goals - of 2020 at the fourth time of asking after seeing off bottom of the table Norwich.
But they made heavy weather of it and were subjected to some grumbles of dissatisfaction from their fans during a second half that the spirited visitors dominated.
The Canaries gave as good as they got in terms of chances, and even after Dele Alli put Spurs ahead with his eighth of the season on 38 minutes, they played with adventure and managed to draw level before Heung-Min Son grabbed a late winner.
As well as the much-needed three points from a first win in five, Spurs fans had the welcome sight of Hugo Lloris between the sticks – the French stopper having made an earlier-than-expected recovery from the dislocated elbow he suffered against Brighton in early December.
It was perhaps rough on Paulo Gazzaniga, who has done well as understudy, but Jose Mourinho had no hesitation in reinstating the World Cup winner at the earliest opportunity.
There was also a first sighting of Gedson Fernandes – the new signing from Benfica, who emerged from the bench to play the last 15 minutes.
Spurs were unconvincing for large parts of the game – clearly missing the presence of the injured Harry Kane. But they looked on the right track when Ali poked home the opening goal from five yards after meeting a low cross from Serge Aurier - Son having slipped the ball wide to the right-back.
Yet on 68 minutes, Norwich were deservedly level when a burst into the box by Max Aarons ended in a tumble after a challenge from Ryan Sessgnon. There was a wait as VAR checked the decision made by ref Chris Kavanagh to award a spot-kick but it was upheld and Teemu Pukki tucked home – his shot creeping inside Lloris’ left hand post.
There was to be another twist, however, and Spurs restored their lead with a close range header from Son in the 79th minute – the result of Ali’s attempt from an acute angle looping up off defender Christof Zimmermann and beyond Tim Krul to the unmarked South Korean. Cruel indeed for City.
In the first half, Erik Lamela volleyed on target and Son rippled the side-netting, but the visitors more than matched that and might have scored on several occasions.
The ebullient Todd Cantwell managed to slip dangerman Pukki in for a shot on the 18-yard line but his attempted curl towards the corner lacked precision.
Later, Cantwell let fly with a dipping shot from outside the area which just cleared the bar and Pukki slid another shot just off target with his left peg.
Pukki had a decent chance at the start of the second half too when he took delivery of an Alexander Tettey lay-off, only to miss the target again. They would prove to be costly misses as much good football went unrewarded.
Line-up: Lloris – Aurier, Vertonghen (Gedson 75), Alderweireld, Sessegnon – Lo Celso, Winks (Dier 56), Alli – Lamela (Eriksen 62), Lucas Maura, Son. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Ndombele, Tanganga