Tottenham Hotspur ultimately disposed of a determined Brighton and Hove Albion with a fortunate goal from defender Serge Aurier and a late Son Heung-min header which sent the spirited Seagulls back to the south coast pointless. The win for Spurs sees them back in the top four with the colossal battle against Manchester City at the Etihad awaiting on Saturday.
Both sides came into this fixture on a run of indifferent form; Tottenham had won their last two at their temporary home having recently defeated APOEL Nicosia and Stoke City, although overall had only won one of their last five league games. Chris Hughton's Brighton have adjusted well to the demands of the Premier League, although they find themselves in the middle of a testing run and have not won any of their last five games, losing three.
Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the team which defeated Stoke City with Serge Aurier, Danny Rose, Moussa Sissoko and Erik Lamela all starting for Spurs. For Brighton, they made five changes and were looking to get the 2-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town out of their system with Gaeton Bong, Beram Kayal, Jose Izquierdo, Anthony Knockaert and Tomer Hemed all included as Chris Hughton's side tried to nullify Tottenham's strengths.
The game started with Spurs very much on the front foot and forcing their opponents back, although Brighton were content to keep things tight initially without being too adventurous. Spurs comfortably maintained possession passing the ball around, but without really being able to penetrate the visitors and testing Australian Matt Ryan in Brighton's goal.
Brighton's game plan was working to perfection, Tottenham had lost some of their early intensity and the home fans were becoming increasingly frustrated with the Lilywhites' laboured approach particularly in their passing.
In the 24th minute the first real opportunity of the match, Spurs' Harry Winks whipped over an inviting cross and Son met it on the half volley. Brighton defender Bong did enough to unsettle the South Korean at the back post and the chance was lost as the ball looped wide.
Tottenham continued to try and assert themselves working well down both flanks, but Brighton were showing great resilience and refused to yield in their defence. Then in the 40th minute, a lucky break for the home team, as Aurier was unfairly challenged by Izquierdo.
The Ivorian stayed strong, while the referee waved play on and the defender curled over a slightly over-hit cross which caught out an unfortunate Ryan and sympathetically dropped in at the far post.
Tottenham deserved their 'fortunate' half time lead as they controlled the half, dominated possession continually working the Seagulls defensively, but without looking overly threatening.
The second half started very much in the same vein as the first, then in the 51st minute, Kane forced a smart save from Ryan after good work by Rose on the left. Son was there to follow up the rebound, but he was eventually flagged offside. Spurs were pressing with greater urgency to get that all elusive second goal to put themselves out of sight and secure those precious three points.
The home side remained patient with their passing, however, it was that tempo that was causing a lot of their problems as it allowed the visitors to get back into their defensive formation. Brighton themselves were happy to remain in the game for as long as possible without being too adventurous when venturing forward.
In the 70th minute, Brighton had their best chance as the hard-working striker Tomer Hemed forced Hugo Lloris into a smart save with his legs. It gave the visitors some belief that they could get something from the contest. Placement either side of the French international goalkeeper and the south coast club could quite easily of drawn level.
9 - Son Heung-Min has been involved in nine goals in his last 11 competitive appearances for Tottenham Hotspur (six goals, three assists). Appreciated. pic.twitter.com/xcWdpatVpY— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2017
Finally, in the 88th minute Spurs managed to get their second goal. A well delivered free kick from Christian Eriksen and Son was there to flick in at the near post to double the home side's lead.
The final minutes of the match drew out to its inevitable conclusion. Plucky Brighton didn't really do enough offensively to deserve anything from the contest and Spurs, with that all important late second goal, had settled the outcome of the game.