Jan Vertonghen’s late winner takes Tottenham to within three points of the top four

Jan Vertonghen scored a dramatic late winner as Tottenham ended Wolves’ 11-match unbeaten Premier League run to narrow the gap on the top four with victory at Molineux.

Vertonghen headed in from a corner in injury time, after Wolves’ relentless approach had been rewarded as Adama Traore thumped in a deserved equaliser from the edge of the box midway through the second half.

Following a breathless opening period, Lucas Moura’s mazy run and exquisite finish into the roof of the net had put Tottenham ahead after eight minutes.

Spurs had to withstand intense pressure as Wolves chased an equaliser, but it was they who went closest before half-time as Eric Dier struck the post from Dele Alli’s delightful, dinked pass.

Tottenham goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga produced an excellent save from Romain Saiss’ header in the closing stages as Jose Mourinho’s visitors hung on, before Vertonghen’s decisive goal.

Victory sees Tottenham climb above Wolves to fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea who they face next Sunday (16:30 GMT).

Spurs weather storm to close in on top four

Ahead of his side’s trip to Molineux, Tottenham boss Mourinho made clear his belief that Spurs will qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Vertonghen’s late header has suddenly turned that into a very realistic prospect, with Spurs set to welcome the Blues – who slumped to a fourth league defeat in five against Bournemouth on Saturday – to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next weekend.

With the top-four door ajar, Spurs made a purposeful start as Son Heung-min saw an attempt stopped by Rui Patricio, but it did not take long for their early enthusiasm to pay off as Moura’s fast feet and emphatic finish stunned Wolves.

A second goal always appeared crucial for Mourinho’s side, who had conceded at least two goals in five of their six games under the Portuguese prior to kick-off, as the energetic hosts dominated in possession and territory.

Often unconvincing, the Spurs backline weathered the storm and allowed for counter opportunities – but Dier was unable to provide the finish that Alli’s sublime pass over the Wolves defence deserved.

Outplayed and having not kept a clean sheet away from home since New Year’s Day – a club-record run of 16 matches – Traore’s equaliser came as no surprise.

What will delight Mourinho, however, was the determined manner of his side’s response to conceding, and a confidence-boosting late winner that puts their top-four hopes firmly in their own hands.

Result harsh on impressive Wolves

As the halfway stage of the season approaches, a Wolves side which could be forgiven for suffering a hint of fatigue played with an intensity and determination that was fully deserving of a point – if not all three.

Nuno Espirito Santo has praised his players’ commitment and togetherness during their packed campaign, which has seen them play 31 games as they juggle domestic competition with their first European campaign in almost 40 years.

Wolves typically relish their match-ups with the Premier League’s big sides and responded to their early setback in style with a swashbuckling home display.

The ever-improving Traore’s low drive forced Gazzaniga into action, while Raul Jimenez dragged wide and Diogo Jota saw an attempt blocked following a swift counter as the hosts began to pick their way through the Tottenham defence.

Despite contesting their fifth game in 15 days, Wolves pressed and harried Spurs, boasting 87.5% of possession in the final five minutes of the first half, but to no avail.

They emerged in the second half with the same intent, as Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves continued to dictate the play and Jimenez again went close before Traore’s spectacular equaliser after 67 minutes.

A menace all game, Toby Alderweireld and Vertonghen struggled to cope with Traore’s frightening pace down the right, with Spurs resorting to fouling the 23-year-old as he threatened to burst away on several occasions.

With a point on the horizon, conceding in the 91st minute will come as a huge disappointment to Nuno’s side – though once the dust settles they will surely feel proud of another excellent showing.

More to follow.



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