Wolves – Tottenham: Tanguy Ndombele scored his second Premier League goal of the season, in the 1st minute of the game, but Romain Saiss hit back with an 86th-minute equalizer to share the points at Molineux Stadium on Sunday.
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The result sees Tottenham climb back up to fifth in the Premier League table, six points behind leaders Liverpool and three back of second-place Everton. Wolves, meanwhile, remain 11th, where they began the weekend.
3 things we learned: Wolves – Tottenham
1. Patching things up with Ndombele shows growth from Mourinho: Remember how terrible the relationship was between Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba while the Portuguese was manager of Manchester United? That’s where things were headed with Ndombele, seemingly from day one — only, having been at the club barely six months with no previous ties, Ndombele was ready to leave Tottenham immediately. Mourinho seemed more than happy to force out the club-record signing in a bizarre attempt to assert his dominance. Then, something strange happened: Mourinho rehabbed his relationship with Ndombele, and the Frenchman has been largely fantastic this season, when fit. Whether or not the peace treaty was sought and brokered by Mourinho or chairman Daniel Levy, it took some measure of personal growth for Mourinho to allow love into his heart.
2. Score-and-defend strategy bites again: No matter how talented, drilled and disciplined a team is, it’s a massive risk to score a minute into a game and try to sit on that lead for the ensuing 89 minutes. Mourinho has made an all-time great career out of doing essentially that, though it has cost his sides more points in recent years as the game evolves over time. Just a couple weeks ago, it didn’t work as Crystal Palace equalized in the final 10 minutes after Spurs offered next to nothing after going 1-0 ahead. Wolves had plenty of chances to do the same on Tuesday, and though Tottenham held on for quite some time, it was simply too much to ask yet again.
3. Jimenez’s absence hurting Wolves: For all of Wolves’ high-quality scoring chances, there was simply no one with the quality required to rise to the occasion until it was nearly too late. It goes without saying that Raul Jimenez is irreplaceable for a team like Wolves, and we’re seeing that every time they take the field without him.
Tottenham needed just 59 seconds to find the back of the net and open the scoring. The game’s first corner kick was recycled out of Wolves’ penalty area as Ben Davies played the ball back to Ndombele 20 yards out, and the Frenchman unleashed a powerful, low strike that snuck inside Rui Patricio’s left-hand post.
This, of course, meant Tottenham would attempt to defend their 1-0 lead for 89 minutes, rather than add to it, and put a stranglehold on the game.
Wolves had their best chance to pull level in the 27th minute when Nelson Semedo and crossed for Fabio Silva at the near post. Silva’s received the ball and rifled a right-footed shot all in one touch, only to push it just wide of Hugo Lloris’s left-hand post.
Daniel Podence had the final chance of the first half, as he took a half-volley from a poor defensive header to the top of the 18-yard box. Fortunately for Lloris, Podence hit it no more than a foot to his left, making for an easy save.
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Silva had another golden scoring opportunity right on the hour mark, but the Portuguese striker was let down by a poor first touch after Pedro Neto beat two defenders down the left wing. The ball bounced off two bodies and eventually fell to Silva, who had an open path to goal but never got a shot away after Hugo Lloris came rushing out to dive on the ball.
Finally, after holding on for 85 minutes, Spurs’ resistance broke from a corner kick in the 68th minute. Neto served it up to the near post and Saiss applied the perfect glancing header to send it inside the far post.