VAR chaos distracts from Pochettino's relief as Spurs' Alli pegs back Watford
A late equaliser from Dele Alli spared Spurs fans another weekend of discontent, even if the quality of Tottenham's performance suggested their current crisis in form is far from over.
Abdoulaye Doucouré had given the Hornets, who were sitting at 20th place in the table at the start of the day, an early lead and they clung on to it until full-time was looming into sight. But with three minutes remaining a ball lofted to Harry Kane was punched out by Ben Foster into the path of Alli, who controlled it with his shoulder and then poked it into the net. A lengthy VAR check found nothing to overrule the referee and Spurs escaped with a point.Tielemans gives Leicester win but Burnley denied equaliser by VAR
Both sides opted for safety first as the match began: two defensive lines of five, with Watford also reinforcing the midfield with a recall for Nathaniel Chalobah. Alli, meanwhile, got a rare Spurs start just behind Harry Kane in his favoured position.
The first incident of note came within a minute, when Watford's Danny Welbeck limped off with a hamstring strain after just 55 seconds. The former Arsenal man's departure attracted a small degree of mockery from the stands, but the gloating did not last for long as Watford took the lead with a goal that was a simple in its construction as it was clinical in execution.
Craig Cathcart is not renowned for his distribution but when he flighted a 60-yard pass from centre-back to the right wing, it went over the head of Danny Rose and set Daryl Janmaat clear. The Dutchman did his bit too, crossing low across the six-yard line. With Spurs's defence slow in thought and body Janmaat's delivery eluded them all but not Doucouré, who drifted into the far post and slid the ball past Paulo Gazzaniga to give the visitors the lead.
Such a start would, until recently, not have been in Spurs's script. But there are new writers in town and an early blow did not come as a surprise. The question was how they would respond and in the first half the answer was: so-so, but at least not as badly as they did against Brighton. There were half-chances - one left-footed strike from Dele Alli well held by Foster - and any number of crosses whipped in, some of them quite dangerously. But while there were points where it felt like Watford were almost under siege, the fact was that the visitors looked comfortable and were able to counter with that same ball over Rose whenever they needed.
Half time brought a hearty chorus of boos and a change from Mauricio Pochettino, with Son Heung-min brought on for Davinson Sánchez. Spurs reverted to a back four and the South Korean made an immediate impact off the right, slamming a shot off the bar from a superb Alli through ball in the 49th minute.Raúl Jiménez penalty gives weary Wolves a point against Southampton
Soon enough, however, the second half fell into the same pattern as the first. Spurs had the ball but not the final pass, and Watford had the freedom of the park on the counter. Janmaat, of all people, should have scored at least once as he marauded forward on the break but fluffed his shot on two occasions with only Gazzaniga to beat.
Spurs made two more subs, bringing Tanguy Ndombele into the fray alongside Erik Lamela, in for Harry Winks and Lucas Moura. Was this the result of a failed plan or bad execution? Were the players to blame or the manager? These were the sorts of questions going through people's heads as Tottenham continued to struggle.
Watford, meanwhile, were getting their bodies in the way and staying compact in the way their manager had insisted would be vital if they were to avoid relegation. But then the ball broke against them, the England star did what everyone knows he can, and Watford were left to rue what might have been.Topics
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