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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Aurier and Son goals see Tottenham move back into top four

Tottenham climbed back into the Premier League's top four as Serge Aurier's fluke-goal and a header from Son Heung-min sealed a 2-0 victory over Brighton.
Spurs dominated another uninspiring contest at Wembley and needed a hefty slice of luck to take the lead as Aurier's cross dropped into the top corner. Son added a second late on.
Tomer Hemed could have pulled Brighton level with a rare second-half chance but Tottenham were worthy winners and move back into the Champions League spots after Liverpool slipped up against West Brom.
Brighton stay 13th, three points above the relegation zone.
After thrashing Stoke at home last weekend, this result comes as another boost to morale for Spurs, who have struggled against lesser sides at Wembley this season.
Mauricio Pochettino will now turn his side's attention to an altogether different challenge on Saturday, when they visit the unbeaten run-away leaders Manchester City, whom they trail by 18 points.
Brighton, meanwhile, have now failed to score in six away games against sides above them in the league and, but for Hemed's opening, they never looked likely at Wembley as they suffered a third consecutive league defeat.
Erik Lamela was another plus for Pochettino. After a year-long problem with his hips this was the Argentinian's first start since October 22, 2016 and he looked bright before going off late on.
It was also November last year that Dele Alli was last left on the bench for a Premier League fixture but the 21-year-old was a sub here, presumably rested for City.
Spurs' recent woes at Wembley have begun with slow starts but they raced out of the blocks as Son robbed Ezequiel Schelotto of the ball out wide before firing off an early shot.
Son was claiming for a penalty moments later but Shane Duffy seemed just to win the ball with his risky, lunging challenge, before Aurier snuck in down the right but his finish was deflected behind.
Brighton's lack of attacking intent was summed up by Jose Izquierdo passing up a promising break by lashing the ball downfield to Hugo Lloris but their plan to frustrate Spurs was working until Aurier's fortuitous strike.
He at least earned the opening with a quick touch past Izquierdo and as the Brighton winger hustled back, Aurier unleashed his cross off-balance. The ball ballooned over goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and dropped in the far corner.
Aurier's first club goal in exactly two years might have encouraged Brighton to come out more in the second half but the pattern was much the same after the break.
Harry Kane's close-range shot was deflected and then saved while another Lamela effort nicked off Duffy and caught the outside of the post.
But with Spurs failing to land a knock-out blow, their opponents finally made their move and Hemed should have equalised when the ball fell kindly in the box. He drove straight at Lloris from 12 yards.
Lamela was replaced by Alli with 17 minutes left and Kane almost added a late second when his driven free-kick was palmed on to the post by Ryan.
Son, however, did the honours moments later as his flicked header from Christian Eriksen's cross flew in off Davy Propper. It was Son's fourth goal in as many games.