Tottenham Hotspur 2
LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur climbed to provisional third place in the English Premier League, after they snatched a 2-1 win over 10-man Watford at Vicarage Road.
Mauricio Pochettino's high-fliers earned all three points via a last-minute goal from substitute Son Heung Min, which helped them move above Manchester City, who play Leicester City today, on goal difference.
The defeat appeared a bit harsh on Watford, who were unfortunate to see wing-back Nathan Ake red-carded for a high challenge on Erik Lamela in the 62nd minute.
The home side fought hard even with 10 men and raided the Spurs goal in the last 10 minutes but could not find the net, before Son deftly flicked in at the near post for the winner after Kieran Trippier provided the cross.
Tottenham had 59 per cent of the ball in the early part of the match, and they deservedly took the lead on 18 minutes when the home side's defender Craig Cathcart was caught in possession by Spurs midfielder Dele Alli.
The ball fell to Lamela, who ran at the Watford goal before clinically side-footing in a shot past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
"Lamela is a positive player and he carried the ball with one thing on his mind - to get an attempt on target. He gave Gomes the eyes, looked at the near post and whipped it in at the far post," John Hartson, the former Wales striker, told the BBC .
Crystal Palace 0
Swansea City 0
Stoke City 4
Norwich City 2
Aston Villa 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2
West Bromwich Albion 1
Newcastle United 0
Arsenal v Bournemouth
Manchester United v Chelsea
West Ham v Southampton
Lamela had a chance to quickly add to his opener when he was found by a Harry Kane cross but the Argentinian playmaker glanced a first-time shot wide from 15 metres.
Watford managed to come back from a goal down to earn a draw at Chelsea on Boxing Day. Could they do it again before half-time?
Quique Sanchez Flores' side had their first sight of goal on 25 minutes, but striker Odion Ighalo, who met a Ake cross with a first-time left-foot shot, sent the ball wide.
But Ighalo was not to be denied seven minutes before the interval.
Troy Deeney headed a ball from the left towards him and Ighalo did brilliantly to control it with his back to goal, hold off Eric Dier and managed to play the ball between the Spurs player's legs before poking the ball past 'keeper Hugo Lloris.
It was the Nigerian international's 14th goal of the campaign as he was rewarded for his strength and determination. The goal was also his 30th for the year, which placed him as the top scorer in England's top four tiers.
In the second half, it was a question of who among the in-form teams would find that bit extra to earn victory.
It turned into a cagey affair, before Ake caught Lamela stud first on his thigh as he tried to get to a bouncing ball. The red card appeared a bit harsh and Hornets skipper Deeney was booked for his protests in the aftermath.
"If you put your leg high you run the risk," noted Graham Taylor, a former chairman and manager of Watford. "Unfortunately he (Ake) plants one foot and the other went up below the midriff. It could have been a nasty injury for Lamela."
Tottenham were slightly lucky to get the win but maintained their record of not losing away from home in the Premier League since the opening day of the season.
They have the potential to make a run for the title now. But former Spurs striker Garth Crooks still thinks they have a lot to do before becoming champions.
"I don't think Spurs can win the title, they don't have the steel to do it or the class of players," he said. "I see too many games Spurs play well and do not take maximum points.
"Harry Kane has all the pieces of jigsaw to be top class, he just needs to help get Spurs in the top four and that is the acid test for me."