Tottenham Hotspur avoided a blow to their top-four hopes as Christian Eriksen struck a late winner to give Spurs a win over a resilient Brighton and Hove Albion side.
The first half played out exactly as many had expected, as Spurs dominated possession in their search for an opener. However, they came up against a Brighton side who were desperate to preserve their clean sheet, as Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk completely dominated proceedings from the back. Spurs simply could not find a way through before the break.
The same trend continued into the second half, as Spurs resorted to countless speculative efforts from range which rarely threatened Mathew Ryan. Toby Alderweireld's strike came close, striking the post before agonisingly trickling across the goal line and away from danger.
However, with just two minutes remaining, one of these efforts found their way past Ryan as Christian Eriksen thundered a low drive into the bottom corner to spare Spurs' blushes, and keep their place in the top four.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point
This game was a perfect example of just how much Spurs miss Harry Kane.
The likes of Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura needed to step up to offer their side the kind of dynamic edge which they lose without Kane. One of the pair could have lined up centrally, but Mauricio Pochettino opted to persist with Llorente, and it almost cost him.
I don’t care if he’s out injured get Harry Kane on @SpursOfficial— Owen Langdon (@OwenLangdon10) April 23, 2019
Llorente, useless.— Dave's High Odds (@HighOddsDave) April 23, 2019
Get him off, put Son down the middle.
Starting XI: Lloris (6); Trippier (6), Alderweireld (7), Vertonghen (6), Rose (7*); Wanyama (6), Eriksen (7), Alli (6); Lucas (6), Llorente (5), Son (7).
Substitutes: Janssen (6), Davies (6), Foyth (N/A).
STAR MAN - Danny Rose
In a frustrating game for Spurs' attackers, it was Danny Rose who looked to be his side's most dangerous weapon. The left-back was a constant threat on his side of the field, bursting forward to try help his side force an opening.
Despite focusing so much on attacking, Rose certainly did not forget about his defensive duties. He even rescued his side with a stunning last-ditch tackle to deny Brighton an unlikely goal on the counter.
Danny Rose has been everywhere tonight— anna (@A_H_opkins) April 23, 2019
What have Brighton ever done to Danny Rose. The lad is pure fire tonight.— OneHotspurs (@Onehotspurs) April 23, 2019
He came close to opening the scoring with a fiercely struck effort from range, but Ryan remained alert and was not fooled by the swerve of the ball. His crossing often left something to be desired, but Pochettino will certainly have been impressed with Rose's determination.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Key Talking Point
Absolute heartbreak for Brighton. They fought until the end, but simply could not keep Spurs out.
Football purists will condemn their defensive performance, but Chris Hughton's men were just minutes away from earning a hard-fought point as their reward. Truthfully, few Brighton fans will have expected anything here, so they should take encouragement from the fact that the players are clearly ready for the fight.
RE the awful, indolent, lazy claims that Brighton are anti-football, I point to Johan Cruyff.— Ryan Plant (@ryanplant1998) April 23, 2019
He said: "Quality without results is pointless. Results without quality is boring."
Sometimes, boring is best. They came within Eriksen's brilliance of an excellent point.
‘Anti football’ is one of the laziest & most overused terms in social football commentary. Dunk and Duffy have just led an heroic 1st half performance there for Brighton pic.twitter.com/EBR8PmUK2C— Ricky Machel (@rickymachel) April 23, 2019
However, their attackers need to start pulling their weight, as Brighton have failed to score in their last 11 hours of action. If you can't score goals, you won't last long in the Premier League, even with outstanding defenders.
STAR MAN - Lewis Dunk
Take your pick here. Both Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy deserve an enormous amount of credit for their stunning defensive display, but Dunk just edges him out here. Just.
The 27-year-old led by example by putting his body on the line for the Seagulls, throwing himself at every loose ball to try push his side one step closer to Premier League safety. Any cross was met by the towering Dunk, and he constantly disrupted attack after attack.
Dunk is so underrated, he's been good so far. I hope Brighton can hold spurs off to a draw.— Nad (@UtdNadd) April 23, 2019
A loose ball almost broke for Janssen in the box, only for Dunk to fling his body in the way. He clearly would have done absolutely anything for his side, and Brighton will surely have a battle on their hands to keep him this summer. He certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side.