Eriksen strikes late as Tottenham sink 10-man Hull
Hull City 1 Tottenham 2
At half-time in this game, Mauricio Pochettino's prospects of keeping his job as manager of Tottenham Hotspur were not good. Not for the first time this season, his side's general lack of quality was as disconcerting during those preceding 45 minutes as their absence of identity, their lack of style and paucity of any obvious collective purpose.
Five minutes after the break, however, the game changed, in the same way as in Spurs' two previous away wins this season. Just as both West Ham and Aston Villa were beaten after being reduced to 10 men, so Hull City, having dominated the opening period and taken a deserved lead through their former Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore, also found their momentum reversed by a dismissal.
On this occasion Gaston Ramirez was the man to go after stupidly kicking out at Jan Vertonghen, and second-half goals from Harry Kane, the 21-year-old's ninth in 10 games, and, in the final minute of normal time, Christian Eriksen, gave Spurs a win that buys their Argentinian manager more time.
For Pochettino, however, the game had already changed. "It's not having a big impact," he said of the dismissal.
"I think at the beginning of the second half our attitude and our game was better than Hull.
"When they scored early we looked a little bit nervous, Hull pressed well and it was a difficult first half.
"But in the second half we had better quality and were more aggressive. The team showed from the start a different mentality and attitude."
The worryingly spineless manner in which both these sides were beaten in their previous games, Hull at Burnley and Spurs at home by Stoke City, along with injuries and suspensions, led both managers to make six changes to their starting line-ups.
The presence of Tom Huddlestone, Livermore and Michael Dawson, all formerly of Spurs, in Hull's line-up, gave the "immutable law of the ex" three chances to apply, and it was Livermore who ensured it did.
Federico Fazio's clearing header lacked power, but Livermore's subsequent shot into the far corner from around 22 yards was hard, low and decisively accurate.
In the enforced absence of Younès Kaboul, Kyle Naughton and Danny Rose, the Spurs defence, with Eric Dier and Ben Davies at right and left-back respectively, had a decidedly inexperienced appearance, and it continued to creak alarmingly.
Davies made a goal-saving block from Ramirez after Hugo Lloris failed to gather a straightforward high ball, but the goalkeeper redeemed himself with two fine saves in quick succession from Ramirez and Robbie Brady. The rebound from the second fell to the feet of Hatem Ben Arfa, but the French winger's shot was deflected over the bar.
Spurs' uncertainty was equally marked in possession, but shortly after the restart Ramirez, up to that point impressive in his first league start of the season, went to ground after a tangle with Mousa Dembélé, and having felt the knee of Vertonghen leaning into his back, reacted by kicking out at the Belgian. The linesman saw it, and a red card was the inevitable result.
It took Spurs only 11 more minutes to equalise. Roberto Soldado drew a foul from Curtis Davies, Eriksen curled the free-kick against McGregor's right-hand post, and the rebound could not have fallen more kindly for Kane to turn into the empty net. Soldado looked offside as he did so, but Spurs' luck had changed in every respect.
The young striker should have made it two soon afterwards from an Aaron Lennon cross. Soldado also put the ball wide when it looked easier to score and, when Lennon also sliced wide from close range, Hull's hopes of hanging on rose. With 90 minutes approaching, however, Eriksen's firm shot from 20 yards left them in tatters.
Hull's manager, Steve Bruce, found the sending-off hard to take.
"There's no doubt Ramirez has shown petulance, but the letter of the law says it has to be violent conduct. It was a little tap, a yellow card. For me the referee and linesman need to show a bit of common sense."
His suggestion that Vertonghen had "gone down as if pole-axed", however, was well wide of the mark. (© Independent News Service)
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