Spurs slip leaves Leicester just one victory from glory
Tottenham 1-1 West Brom
If Eden Hazard is to be believed, Tottenham can expect an ambush at Chelsea next Monday which will end their title ambitions. But, having failed to overcome West Brom at White Hart Lane, the harsh reality for Spurs is that their dream may be over before they even arrive at Stamford Bridge.
Craig Dawson’s 72nd-minute header saw the West Brom defender cancel out his first-half own goal and deny Spurs the victory required to turn the heat back onto Premier League leaders Leicester.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team are still alive in the title race, but their hopes are now hanging by a thread.
Three more points will secure Leicester’s first league title and they could win it at Manchester United on Sunday.
By then, Spurs could be without Dele Alli for three games if the English FA decide to punish the England midfielder for violent conduct as a result an apparent off-the-ball punch into the ribs of Albion midfielder Claudio Yacob.
So a bad night for the North London club, who must now hope for a miracle if they are to win their first title since 1961.
With manager Pulis barking instructions like a Sargeant Major from the technical area, Albion were never likely to go through the motions in this game – and Pulis was certainly not holding back on the touchline – but their form should have been enough for Spurs to realise that patience and superior quality would eventually consign the visitors to another defeat.
Spurs wanted to strike hard and strike early, though, perhaps sensing the need to keep anxiety levels to a minimum by killing off any prospect of Albion resistance.
And the opening moments were a blur of Tottenham chances, with Albion’s stand-in goalkeeper Boaz Myhill twice forced into important saves, from Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane. It was all Spurs and Eriksen went close again on 11 minutes with a free-kick which skimmed the crossbar after Stephane Sessegnon had bundled Danny Rose over on the edge of the penalty area.
When it came, though, the opening goal owed as much to luck as judgement, with the unfortunate Dawson attempting to prevent Jan Vertonghen from converting Eriksen’s cross, only to bundle it past Myhill with his stomach as he slid across the six-yard box.
While the scoreline remained 1-0, Tottenham were always vulnerable to West Brom hitting them on the counter-attack, but so limited were the visitors in terms of imagination going forward, that threat appeared to be a diminishing one.
The set-piece ability of Craig Gardner was West Brom’s greatest weapon, but the midfeilder’s one effort on goal was saved by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris on 52 minutes.
And the home side went agonisingly close to scoring that second on 57 minutes after Eriksen had ghosted past Yacob on the left before pulling the ball back for Erik Lamela.
Standing on the penalty spot, Lamela side-footed the ball goalwards, but his effort curled away and hit the post, with Kane arriving too late to convert the rebound.
Albion survived another scare and they almost punished Spurs six minutes later, but Salomon Rondon wastefully headed wide from six yards after rising to head Gardner’s cross.
Tottenham’s failure to kill Albion off gave the visitors hope and Lloris had to be at his best to tip a close-range Rondon shot over the bar on 71 minutes.
But from the corner which followed, Dawson outjumped Eric Dier to head Gardner’s delivery into the net.
Independent News Service