Quickfire goals see off Brentford and send Spurs into top four

A 72-second surge from Tottenham at the start of the second half swung a feisty London derby with Brentford in their favour and the 3-2 win sent Spurs into the Premier League top four.

Brentford had battled their way into a deserved lead at the break, with Tottenham’s chief tormentor Neal Maupay bundling in his fourth goal in four games, in between picking scuffles with Richarlison and Cristian Romero. Maupay played up to his role as pantomime villain by marking his goal with James Maddison’s darts-throwing celebration.

Tottenham were repeatedly cut open by their visitors during that opening 45 – but a double change from Ange Postecoglou at the break helped inspire a remarkable turnaround. Within four minutes of the restart Destiny Udogie had fired home from close range and sub Brennan Johnson slid in Tottenham’s second goal from Timo Werner’s cross moments later.

Maddison – making his first start since November – was involved in the third, with Richarlison converting from the playmaker’s blocked shot. The darts celebration was reclaimed by Johnson and the Brazilian.

Ivan Toney ensured Brentford didn’t go down tamely, thumping in after Udogie’s bad back pass came to him, and Shandon Baptiste then saw a volley tipped over the bar in injury-time. But defeat means the Bees stay 15th, four points above the relegation zone after losing eight of their last 10 games in the league.

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Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou wasn’t a fan of the antics that went on in their game against Brentford, with Neal Maupay having caused uproar by imitating James Maddison’s darts celebration following his first half goal.

Player ratings

Tottenham: Vicario (7); Porro (7), Romero (7), Van de Ven (7), Udogie (7); Skipp (5), Bentancur (5); Maddison (7), Kulusevski (7), Werner (8), Richarlison (8)

Subs: Hojbjerg (6), Johnson (7), Dragusin (6), Donley (N/A)

Brentford: Flekken (6), Pinnock (6), Roerslev (6), Collins (6), Mee (6), Jensen (7), Janelt (7), Norgaard (7), Lewis-Potter (7), Maupay (7), Toney (7).

Subs: Yarmoliuk (6), Dasilva (6), Baptiste (6), Damsgaard (6)

Player of the match: Timo Werner (Tottenham)

How Spurs struck back for derby win

Cristian Romero and Maupay tangled inside two minutes during a crackling opening to this London derby but it was the visitors who won the battle to strike first.

Team news

  • James Maddison made his first Spurs start since November, while Oliver Skipp replaced Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield. Brennan Johnson also dropped to the bench.
  • Brentford captain Christian Norgaard returned to midfield in place of Mikkel Damsgaard

They’d already scythed through the Tottenham line twice with flowing moves and seen Mathias Jensen eventually flagged offside after Mads Roerslev hit the bottom corner. There was no reprieve for the hosts on 15 minutes, though. Toney was sent clean through and although Guglielmo Vicario parried his shot on the angle, Maupay was there to convert the rebound.

Neal Maupay celebrates after giving Brentford a first-half lead at Spurs
Neal Maupay celebrates after giving Brentford a first-half lead at Spurs

Werner twice went close as Spurs sought a response, stretching Mark Flekken with a low shot before heading wide from the resulting corner.

The temperature continued to rise to half-time, with Ethan Pinnock eventually backheeling wide from a set-piece which had been delayed by pushing and shoving from Richarlison and Collins – and that pair’s battle continued at the other end of the pitch when the Brazilian was denied a goal for a foul on the defender. The contact was minimal.

Toney headed straight at Vicario just before the break as Brentford finished the half with a spring in their step – but their hard work was wiped out within four minutes of the restart. Udogie’s blocked shot came back to him in the box to convert the first and seconds later Werner was away down the wing to cross for sub Johnson to slide in the second.

Destiny Udogie equalises for Spurs against Brentford
Destiny Udogie equalises for Spurs against Brentford

A third followed soon after with the pitch opening up and Spurs streaming forward with new-found confidence. It’s seven in nine now for Richarlison who is enjoying his most fruitful period in front of goal in years.

Richarlison wheels away to celebrate after giving Spurs a 3-1 lead against Brentford
Richarlison wheels away to celebrate after giving Spurs a 3-1 lead against Brentford

Toney gave Spurs a let-off when he rolled wide after taking the ball away from Vicario as he scrambled on the floor – but he wouldn’t be so wasteful moments later when Udogie slipped and sent a pass straight to the unmarked Toney. The striker was slow returning from a previous attack and gratefully took up the gift.

Ivan Toney pulls a goal back for Brentford at Spurs
Ivan Toney pulls a goal back for Brentford at Spurs

That goal brought uncertainty around the stadium and the game remained in the balance until the final whistle, with Mark Flekken denying Richarlison before Vicario tipped over Baptiste’s first-time hit and Romero blocked in the box. But there was delight from the home fans when the final whistle eventually came – and they serenaded boss Postecoglou after a victory with all the hallmarks of his style.

Postecoglou: If the players are that brave, get in a UFC cage!

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou:  ”We started the game well and with good intensity and good tempo. They scored and then we lost our way. We just lost the focus. I was a bit frustrated with our inability to stay disciplined. And it was just too many stops, starts and it kind of plays into their hands. We spent more time talking to the referee than playing the game.

“Second half, for 25, 30 minutes we were outstanding. We scored three great goals, should have had a couple more. We gave a goal away which gives a little impetus to their game. From our perspective, great character shown by the lads to get a win.”

On the scuffles and darts celebrations: “I’m not a fan of it. I don’t like the whole bravado and pushing people around. If they’re that brave about things, my players and their players, get into a UFC cage and I’ll see how brave they are. We’re out there to play football and that’s what I want our guys to focus on. We got sucked in in the first half, second half was much better.”

On Werner: “I thought he was great. First half, we probably didn’t support him enough in that left channel and he was a little bit isolated. But the second half we got some support, we got some better service to him. He’s a quality player. As he gets stronger and fitter and understands our game a little bit better I think he’ll become even more effective. I know there’s goals in him as well and that will come with time.”

Frank: We were close to a perfect performance

Brentford boss Thomas Frank: “Except for a 10-minute blackout we did very well. That is frustrating. We always aim to play the perfect game and I think we were very close. First half was almost perfect. Very aggressive in high pressure, and low block. Very good transitions, scored a very good goal, had three or four other opportunities. We were on top. They had the ball more.

“Second half, the first goal is one player around four of our players and the ricochet drops for him. Second goal, we can’t concede on our kick-off. And third was a ricochet dropping. Very pleased with character and way they kept fighting. We scored and in the end close to equalise. We see them change to a back five, I don’t think I’ve seen them do that in the whole season, so they must respect us.”

What’s next?

Tottenham travel to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday; kick-off 12.30pm.

Meanwhile, Brentford host Man City on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.

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