Thursday 23 November 2017

Mason strike earns points after battle of wounded knee

Sunderland 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier celebrates
Tottenham Hotspur's Eric Dier celebrates
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris blocks the shot from Sunderland's Ola Toivonen
Sunderland's Jeremain battles with Tottenham's Kyle Walker
Tottenham's Harry Kane with a ripped shirt

Martin Hardy

There will be a nervy phone call made by Mauricio Pochettino this morning. It will be to the Tottenham doctor and it will involve the state of Ryan Mason's knee. Only then will the true cost of victory be known.

Without Mason's intervention at Sunderland, a true moment of quality with eight minutes remaining, Tottenham would be winless after five games.

A victory gave their three draws a different perspective. They have now lost once in five.

Pochettino could even claim the goal was all about the philosophy he is trying to impose on his players. If that is the case, better days - certainly than yesterday - lie ahead.

From the outside, it looked like a really good player taking a game by the scruff of the neck, but that is old-fashioned talk in the modern game.

In doing so, Mason saved the blushes of Harry Kane, who looked awfully out of touch. The midfielder even had the grace to involve the England forward in the move that gave Spurs their first win of the season.

Stretcher There was a pass to Kane, who fed Eric Lamela, who in turn found the run of Mason. The midfielder took a touch and dinked the ball past the 6ft 8in frame of Costel Pantilimon into the Sunderland goal, taking a kick from one of the goalkeeper's flailing legs as he did.

Mason was still mobbed, even in injury. When his team-mates climbed off, the stretcher bearers carried the midfielder slowly around the pitch.

"It was a great goal - it showed how we want to play, how we try to play, what our philosophy is. It was fantastic. For a manager, it is fantastic the way we scored," said Pochettino.

Mason was the game's best player. His searing cross-field pass in the 67th minute looked perfect for Kane inside the Sunderland six-yard box, but the striker missed his kick.

It was that kind of afternoon for the man who cannot stop scoring whenever he pulls on an England shirt.

What will perhaps have caused more consternation for the Tottenham coaching staff is the way their central defenders were dissected in the 26th minute.

Jermain Defoe, restored to his favoured central striking role after a simmering row with manager Dick Advocaat, was sent clear through by Jeremain Lens.

It did not look like the Defoe of Tottenham.

He took two touches and then, with his third, hit a shot that went past the Spurs 'keeper Hugo Lloris and hit the far post.

Independent News Service

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