Dejan Kulusevski has acknowledged Tottenham were “too open” against Wolves and insisted they must work harder to get their top-four charge back on track.

Spurs slipped to a 2-1 loss at home to the Midlands club on Saturday, which allowed Aston Villa to leapfrog them and take back fourth position, while sixth-placed Manchester United are only three points behind.

Tottenham lacked fluency against Wolves and while Kulusevski levelled 34 seconds into the second half, the visitors continued to cause Ange Postecoglou’s team problems on the break and it ultimately resulted in Joao Gomes’ second goal after a superb Pedro Neto run.

“Nothing worse than losing so very tough,” Kulusevski said.

“We had a lot of chances, we can’t score them and then not enough discipline when we lost the ball.

“They had two or three counter-attacks where we’re not good enough and they made us pay. After that it is difficult to come back again in the game.

“We were too many guys up front. Too open and not running back as hard as we should. They could score a couple and that’s not good enough.”

Tottenham have shipped chances all season and only kept five clean sheets in the Premier League, but have missed first-choice defenders Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven for chunks of the campaign.

The absence of speedy full-backs Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie also curbed Spurs’ creativity against Wolves and they face a two-week wait to put things right as Friday’s scheduled fixture at Chelsea was postponed due to the Blues’ Carabao Cup final involvement.

Postecoglou stated hard work would get Tottenham back to the free-flowing football they produced during the opening months of the season and Kulusevski echoed his sentiments ahead of Crystal Palace’s visit on March 2.

Kulusevski added: “We are not playing good enough, especially first half. We are not playing good enough and losing too many balls, so we have to get better.

“We have two weeks to work on that and come back much better.

“We found a couple of solutions (against Wolves) so it is there and we just have to get better and practice in training.

“We are football players, we want to play a lot and two weeks is a long of time, but we have to do the journey. We have to train and get better, so we have to see it as a positive thing.”

Gary O’Neil welcomes Wolves supporters dreaming of Europe even if he is happy to play down such talk.

Wolves completed a Premier League double over Tottenham on Saturday with a 2-1 away win that moved them on to 35 points for the campaign.

It was Wolves’ fourth win from their last five matches and they are now only two points off seventh spot, which has earned Europa Conference League qualification in each of the last three seasons.

O’Neil said: “I haven’t seen the league table but I don’t really set goals in league table positions, especially with a group that I didn’t know when I joined and most of the talk at that point was around relegation!

“To switch talk from relegation to Europe is a big jump.

“I’ll keep pushing them until the final whistle at Anfield at the end of May or hopefully beyond that if we’re able to keep a cup run going.

“Yeah, I love the fans dreaming. One of my favourite parts of the job is I am not allowed to get carried away and think about things that might happen, but I love them being able to think about it.

“If we were on 22 points right now, they would be worrying about, ‘how we get our next win and are we going to stay up?’.

“The fact we’ve got to 35 already, they can talk about a title charge for all I care!

“I am delighted they are enjoying themselves and we got to share another fantastic moment with them, which was really special.

“You can see the connection between the players and the fans, but we just need to keep trying to push it and improve everything.”

Joao Gomes was the two-goal hero for Wolves and the midfielder produced his stellar display in front of Brazil head coach Dorival Junior.

“Was Joao aware of the Brazil manager being here? I’m not sure,” O’Neil admitted.

“I think you know what you’re going to get with Joao whether there is one man and his dog watching or the Brazil manager or the Real Madrid manager or whoever else might want to watch Joao.

“I hope he’s just trying to impress me! It was a good day for him.”

Tottenham will have to lick their wounds for the next fortnight after next Friday’s scheduled match with Chelsea was postponed due to their opponents’ involvement in the Carabao Cup final.

 

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Spurs will stay in England over the next two weeks and prepare for the visit of Crystal Palace on March 2 when Ange Postecoglou will hope to have Pedro Porro (muscle) and Destiny Udogie (knee) fit again.

The duo have produced 13 goal involvements between them this season, but the Spurs boss played down their absence.

Postecoglou said: “We’ve had a lot of injuries this year, we’ve certainly performed better than that when we have had injuries.

“So, I don’t think that’s the reason. Like I said our general level of performance wasn’t where it should be.”

Ange Postecoglou warned no magic wand will get Tottenham’s top-four tilt back on track after they suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Wolves.

Spurs had returned to fourth position with a last-gasp victory over Brighton last weekend but were leapfrogged on Saturday by Aston Villa, who won at Fulham.

Joao Gomes headed Wolves into a deserved lead after 42 minutes and, while Dejan Kulusevski levelled 34 seconds after the restart for Tottenham, Gomes grabbed his second after an excellent solo run by Pedro Neto with 63 minutes on the clock.

It consigned the hosts to a frustrating defeat and they have now failed to score in the first half of their last five home matches.

“We will work hard, we’ve got two weeks to prepare for our next game (against Crystal Palace) and there’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves,” Postecoglou insisted.

“You take the blows and you’ve got to move on irrespective of what’s happened in the past. You’ve got to make sure you’re ready for the next game.

“There’s no tricks, it’s hard work. I’m not a magician, I’m a football manager. It’s hard work which these guys have done all year.

“Like I said, we’ve got to this point which is pretty decent on the back of some hard work and that’s what we’ll keep doing.”

Spurs were without first-choice full-backs Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie and struggled to break Wolves down in the opening 45 minutes with home goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario making fine saves to deny Nelson Semedo and Pablo Sarabia either side of Gomes heading in a corner by Sarabia.

Tottenham came out firing after the break, like they had done in recent wins over Brentford and Brighton, with Kulusevski equalising after he dribbled past Craig Dawson and poked under Jose Sa.

Postecoglou’s team were beginning to build a head of steam but Wolves remained a threat on the break and, after Vicario denied Sarabia in the 56th minute, the visitors’ second arrived six minutes later.

Yves Bissouma lost possession after a Spurs corner and Neto carried the ball half the length of the pitch before he cut back and teed up Gomes, who slammed home for his second of the afternoon.

A raft of attacking players were thrown on by Postecoglou, but Jean-Ricner Bellegarde, Toti and Neto all squandered promising positions for Wolves before Ben Davies headed wide deep into stoppage-time for Tottenham to ensure Gary O’Neil’s side completed the double over the north London outfit.

Neto’s moment of individual brilliance was his ninth assist of the campaign but his manager issued a hands off to potential suitors after they moved on to 35 points for the season.

O’Neil said: “I still want to push him and get him as close to perfect as a wide player as we can.

“Yeah, I’ve been asked a few times this week about the summer already and I’m not interested in discussing Pedro Neto leaving the football club.

“He is a fantastic player that we spent a lot of money on, that we work very hard on and as far as I’m concerned, we don’t want to lose our best players.

“We have a long way to go yet this season and then hopefully he stays with us and we can keep pushing towards the top half of the table.”

Tottenham’s top-four hopes suffered a blow after a Joao Gomes brace fired Wolves to a deserved 2-1 away win in north London.

Spurs had claimed back fourth spot from Aston Villa with a last-gasp victory over Brighton last weekend but struggled to break down Gary O’Neil’s side.

Gomes headed Wolves ahead in the 42nd minute and, while Dejan Kulusevski levelled for Tottenham straight after half-time, Pedro Neto’s wonderful solo run settled the contest.

Neto raced half the length of the pitch before he teed up Gomes to side-foot home with 63 minutes played to earn the visitors to a fourth win from their last five matches.

There was a big contingent of South Korea fans inside the stadium with two of the nations’ best going head-to-head and Hwang Hee-chan should have scored in the fifth minute.

Wolves worked the ball out wide to Nelson Semedo, who was denied by Guglielmo Vicario and Hwang inexplicably sliced over the rebound from close range.

Spurs threatened for the first time soon after when Ben Davies fired over on the turn before the visitors created another promising opportunity but Rayan Ait-Nouri curled straight at Vicario.

The stop-start nature to the contest continued although Tottenham enjoyed a rare foray into the away penalty area with 36 minutes played only for Kulusevski to side foot well wide from James Maddison’s pass.

Wolves had frustrated the hosts’ well, while also proving a threat and made their dominance count with 42 minutes on the clock.

From Wolves’ second corner of the match Pablo Sarabia picked out Gomes, who headed into the top corner after being given too much space.

It was a deserved breakthrough but sparked a frantic finish to the half with Vicario pushing wide a curler by Sarabia, who was offside before the same player flashed an effort off target.

Ange Postecoglou’s team did test Jose Sa through Emerson Royal but it stayed 1-0 at the break.

It meant Tottenham had failed to score in the first half of five consecutive home matches, although they quickly hit their straps after half-time.

The equaliser arrived 34 seconds into the second half and it was all about Kulusevski.

Richarlison knocked the ball into the path of the Sweden international, who dribbled past Craig Dawson close to the byline before he poked under Sa for a superb sixth goal of the season.

Spurs were pushing for a second but Wolves remained dangerous, especially on the break and Vicario impressively denied Sarabia after Semedo’s cross.

Back came Tottenham with Kulusevski’s low effort excellently tipped wide by Sa before Semedo blocked another shot from the Swedish forward in the 63rd minute.

It earned the hosts another corner but they were hit with a sucker-punch after a moment of individual brilliance by Neto.

Yves Bissouma lost possession on the edge of Wolves’ penalty area and Neto carried the ball half the length of the pitch before he cut inside Emerson and teed up Gomes, who slammed home for his second of the afternoon.

Tottenham attempted to respond straight away and Maddison curled over before Postecoglou turned to his bench with Rodrigo Bentancur, Brennan Johnson and Timo Werner sent on.

Chances remained at a premium until Kulusevski picked out the unmarked Davies deep into stoppage-time but the Welsh defender headed well wide to ensure Wolves completed the double over Spurs.

Ange Postecoglou has leapt to the defence of Tottenham captain Son Heung-min over an incident during South Korea’s recent Asian Cup campaign that left the attacker with a dislocated finger.

Son’s nation exited the tournament in the semi-final stage after a 2-0 loss to Jordan, which resulted in Jurgen Klinsmann being sacked on Friday.

A report this week revealed Son dislocated his finger the day before the last-four clash after the Spurs skipper was involved in an altercation with younger members of the South Korea squad, who had allegedly left a team dinner early to play ping-pong.

Son returned to club duty last Saturday with a key role off the bench in a 2-1 victory over Brighton, where his right fingers were taped up and Postecoglou talked up his leadership.

“From what I know of the incident, and I haven’t asked too much about it, it was Sonny being Sonny. Being a leader and when you’re a leader, sometimes you get in the firing line,” Postecoglou said.

“That’s what leadership is all about. Leadership is not about being popular and trying to make everybody happy, it’s about when you see something that you don’t feel is right then you stand up for it because it’s the best thing for the group. I see that in Sonny.

“Sometimes people are mistaken about Sonny because he’s such a positive guy, who whenever you see him is smiling and everyone has a real affection for him, but he wants to win.

“He doesn’t like standards slipping and I’ve seen him do that around here. If something is not right, he will say it.

“Sometimes it is not the popular thing to do. Sometimes that puts you in the firing line with the playing group and with coaches or the club, but as a leader if you think this is the right thing to do, then you should go strongly on it.

“Sonny by nature is a nice guy. He is very polite and very respectful but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a real winner and a guy who has high standards.

“There is a real discipline you need to last this long, especially in the Premier League, and that drive to have high standards transfers to leadership. The best (leaders) are the ones who are themselves because people respect that. When you try and be somebody else people see through that.”

Son will aim to keep Spurs out in front in the race for Champions League qualification at home to Wolves and should be back in the starting XI after his cameo against Brighton.

Postecoglou has lost full-backs Pedro Porro (muscle) and Destiny Udogie (knee) to minor injuries but has boosted options in midfield and attack.

Yves Bissouma, who started Tottenham’s first eight league fixtures, is primed to make his first club start since December 15 after missing the past two months through suspension and international commitments.

Postecoglou added: “It’s fair to say with Biss, he’s probably a little bit frustrated with the way the season has gone.

“Really early on I could see the way we played really suited him. He really thrived in that responsibility in that role.

“Look, he’s ready to go. He’s had a good week of training. Looking forward with him, Rodri (Bentancur), Madders (James Maddison) is now back, Lo Celso is now available, Skippy and Pierre (Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg).

“We’re looking really strong through there. Not just to start games; the ability for us to change games. I think that’s going to be a really big part of us having a strong finish to the season.”

Ange Postecoglou says Tottenham are still a “long way” from playing the football he wants after he fended off talk he could leave at the end of the season to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Klopp announced last month he would depart Anfield at the conclusion of the campaign following nine years at the club.

Liverpool have reportedly placed Postecoglou on a shortlist of candidates to replace Klopp, with Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso seemingly at the top of the pile, but the Spurs boss insists his focus is on finishing this season strongly.

“I may be on a shortlist? I don’t think I want to say anything about that because I don’t think that’s ever going to enter my brain space for what is my priorities in life and my profession right now,” Postecoglou said ahead of Saturday’s visit of Wolves.

“Well, I am (just getting started at Tottenham). Not just feel — I am. I’ve only been here seven months, so that’s self-explanatory.

“I’ve been at pains to say we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of the football we want to play, the team we want to be, the squad we want to have.

“We’ve had two positive windows, I think we’ve had a decent campaign so far, but we’ve got a long way to go.

“That’s the funny space when we talk about managers. When we’re not going well, then there’s questioning about whether we’re going to be here.

“When you’re potentially going OK, there’s still question about whether you’re going to be here. The reality of it is – most of it is out of our hands.

“I’m never worried or thought about that. I’ve got a history of 26 years of management where you can see pretty clearly what I do.

“I rely on that as my explanation as to where my thought processes are with all those kind of things.

“Right now it’s about finishing the season strong with Tottenham and making sure we’re trying to establish a really strong foundation for who we want to be in the years to come.

“That can only happen if I’m totally focused on what these last 14 games can bring for us.”

Asked if links to Liverpool were a compliment, Postecoglou added: “It depends. If it’s just people throwing up names, then who cares?

“It doesn’t matter, but at the end of the day, if I’m doing a good job then hopefully people will acknowledge that in one form or another — whatever that form is. But so-called ‘chat’, really? That’s of no interest to me.”

What Postecoglou has to deal with in the immediate future is being without both recognised full-backs for the visit of Wolves.

Pedro Porro suffered a muscle strain in training this week, while Destiny Udogie was forced off at the end of last weekend’s dramatic 2-1 win over Brighton with a minor issue.

Postecoglou is hopeful both will be back for Tottenham’s home fixture with Crystal Palace on March 2, with the club not in action next weekend due to Chelsea’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final.

Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) has also returned to training, but Spurs’ back-up goalkeeper Fraser Forster has fractured his foot and is set for a “couple of months” on the sidelines.

Ange Postecoglou says Tottenham are still a “long way” from playing the football he wants after he fended off talk he could leave at the end of the season to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

Klopp announced last month he would depart Anfield at the conclusion of the campaign following nine years at the club.

Liverpool have reportedly placed Postecoglou on a shortlist of candidates to replace Klopp, with Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso seemingly at the top of the pile, but the Spurs boss insists his focus is on finishing this season strongly.

“I may be on a shortlist? I don’t think I want to say anything about that because I don’t think that’s ever going to enter my brain space for what is my priorities in life and my profession right now,” Postecoglou said ahead of Saturday’s visit of Wolves.

“Well, I am (just getting started at Tottenham). Not just feel — I am. I’ve only been here seven months, so that’s self-explanatory.

“I’ve been at pains to say we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of the football we want to play, the team we want to be, the squad we want to have.

“We’ve had two positive windows, I think we’ve had a decent campaign so far, but we’ve got a long way to go.

“That’s the funny space when we talk about managers. When we’re not going well, then there’s questioning about whether we’re going to be here.

“When you’re potentially going OK, there’s still question about whether you’re going to be here. The reality of it is – most of it is out of our hands.

“I’m never worried or thought about that. I’ve got a history of 26 years of management where you can see pretty clearly what I do.

“I rely on that as my explanation as to where my thought processes are with all those kind of things.

“Right now it’s about finishing the season strong with Tottenham and making sure we’re trying to establish a really strong foundation for who we want to be in the years to come.

“That can only happen if I’m totally focused on what these last 14 games can bring for us.”

Asked if links to Liverpool were a compliment, Postecoglou added: “It depends. If it’s just people throwing up names, then who cares?

“It doesn’t matter, but at the end of the day, if I’m doing a good job then hopefully people will acknowledge that in one form or another — whatever that form is. But so-called ‘chat’, really? That’s of no interest to me.”

What Postecoglou has to deal with in the immediate future is being without both recognised full-backs for the visit of Wolves.

Pedro Porro suffered a muscle strain in training this week, while Destiny Udogie was forced off at the end of last weekend’s dramatic 2-1 win over Brighton with a minor issue.

Postecoglou is hopeful both will be back for Tottenham’s home fixture with Crystal Palace on March 2, with the club not in action next weekend due to Chelsea’s involvement in the Carabao Cup final.

Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) has also returned to training, but Spurs’ back-up goalkeeper Fraser Forster has fractured his foot and is set for a “couple of months” on the sidelines.

What the papers say

Tottenham are confident they will keep manager Ange Postecoglou amid interest from Liverpool, the Telegraph reports. Reds boss Jurgen Klopp announced he will step down from the club at the end of the season, with ex-midfielder and current Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso favourite for the position.

The Daily Mail says West Ham have delayed contract negotiations with manager David Moyes as he deals with a seven-game winless streak.

Manchester United are reportedly interested in Bayern Munich defender Matthijs de Ligt, the Sun reports, with the 24-year-old said to be unhappy at the German club.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Bernardo Silva: Manchester City’s 29-year-old midfielder is a target for Paris St Germain with the French club reportedly ready to pay his £51million release clause, Spanish outlet Fijaches says.

Kylian Mbappe: The Athletic reports the French striker, who is available on a free transfer this summer, is not happy with Real Madrid’s latest offer.

Tottenham scored for a 36th successive Premier League game in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Brighton to equal the second-longest run in Premier League history.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how they have done it and the record run still in front of them.

Scoring for fun

After losing 1-0 to Wolves in March, Tottenham scored in their final 12 games of last season – even as they sacked manager Antonio Conte and then caretaker Cristian Stellini, the latter following a shambolic 6-1 defeat to Newcastle.

They finished the season with Ryan Mason in charge and have not let up this term under a fourth manager in Ange Postecoglou, netting at least once in every game so far – 51 goals in 24 games, to add to their 24 in last season’s portion of the scoring run for a total of 75.

They have also conceded 63 at the other end and have kept only six clean sheets along the way as they rival Saturday’s opponents Brighton as the Premier League’s great entertainers – Albion’s own sequences of 32 consecutive games without being shut out and 20 in which both teams had scored were ended by December’s 2-0 loss to Arsenal.

Postecoglou’s side have matched Manchester United’s run from December 2007 to November 2008, and Liverpool from March 2019 to February 2020.

Spurs would need to score in every game for the rest of this season and the first five of next term to equal the record of 55, set by rivals Arsenal from May 2001 to November 2002.

Son shines in scoring streak

Captain Son Heung-min is Spurs’ top scorer in those games with 17 goals, joined in double figures by the departed Harry Kane with 12 and Richarlison on 11.

They have had 19 different scorers in all, in addition to own goals by opponents Lisandro Martinez, Joel Matip and Joel Ward. Pedro Porro has made the most appearances, featuring in 34 of the 36 games.

Their stand-out performances in front of goal saw them beat Burnley 5-2 in September as well as 4-1 wins over Newcastle this season and Leeds last.

They have scored three goals on six occasions, netting twice 17 times and once on 10 occasions, averaging 2.08 goals per game.

That compares to 2.13 for Arsenal on their 55-game run, which encompassed the last game of 2000-01, their entire 2001-02 title win and the first 16 games of the following campaign. The Gunners, though, conceded barely a goal a game (56) compared to 1.75 for Spurs.

Arsene Wenger’s side surprisingly had only 15 different scorers, plus four opposition own goals. Thierry Henry racked up 31 of their 117 goals, with Sylvain Wiltord on 18, Freddie Ljungberg 15 and 10 apiece for Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp.

Brennan Johnson is excited about what Tottenham can achieve this season with their improved squad depth.

Spurs were able to welcome captain Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma back into the fold for Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Brighton after their recent international commitments.

It was Son who set up fellow substitute Johnson for a last-gasp winner, which keeps Tottenham firmly in the hunt for Champions League qualification and as a big outsider in the title race.

Boss Ange Postecoglou has not had a fully-fit squad to pick from since November due to injuries, suspensions and national-team duty, but does now and has used options off his bench during the last fortnight to inspire home wins over Brentford and Brighton.

“You don’t play that well or with that togetherness if everyone isn’t on board. Everyone is firmly on board with how the manager plays,” Johnson insisted.

“At half-time he was so frustrated because we came away from the way we want to play and when we score goals like that, it is stuff we work on day-in, day-out so it’s a nice feeling because it is the rewards paying off.

“It is just excitement (in the squad). Everyone is back and we’ve missed some really key players. As the manager said, now in training we’ll be doing the starters against the sub team and most times you won’t be able to tell who is starting because the quality is so high.

“We have that competition in training, there is never any bad blood, everyone gets on so well in training and we just want to push ourselves.

“It shows like (here) and against Brentford, when people aren’t at it for one reason or another, it’s not down to them, but it shows the squad and the players coming on can make such a good impact.”

 

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The 96th-minute winner was Johnson’s latest encouraging moment after a mixed start to life with the north London club.

After struggling for form earlier this season, his third goal for Tottenham makes it four goal involvements in his last seven Premier League appearances.

Johnson told SpursPlay: “Moments like that are what you dream of as a player.

“Even when I was on the bench, I knew when we come on there is such good quality in the team. Coming on with a player as good as Sonny, when he gets the ball down the left-hand side, his crossing is unbelievable, especially off both feet.

“It was just about making sure I got it in. It felt like it was coming in slow motion but to get the ball in the back of the goal is a special feeling.”

Brighton were without boss Roberto De Zerbi at Tottenham with the Italian back in his home country recovering from invasive dental surgery.

De Zerbi also had a one-match touchline ban to serve, but his number two revealed he was in contact with his staff during the match.

“Yes, Roberto was the whole match in contact with us,” Seagulls assistant Andrea Maldera revealed.

“In the first half not too much because the match was easy to read, but in half-time I spoke with him and he gave to me and the team some suggestions.

“In the second half, the substitutions arrived from him because he is watching the match on TV.”

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou heaped praise on “world-class” Son Heung-min after he helped inspire a dramatic 2-1 victory over Brighton.

Spurs looked set to drop more points after they had been held to a 2-2 draw at Everton last weekend but Brennan Johnson struck in the sixth minute of stoppage time to fire them back into the Premier League top four.

Son created the winner with a wonderful delivery across the face of goal on his first appearance since he returned from the Asian Cup, where his nation South Korea suffered semi-final disappointment.

Postecoglou introduced Son and Johnson with 28 minutes left and the duo eventually helped the hosts earn all three points after Pape Sarr’s 61st-minute goal cancelled out Pascal Gross’ opener for the Seagulls from the penalty spot after 17 minutes.

“Obviously Brighton were doing really well but they were working really hard to stay in the game and you know they’re going to get tired,” Postecoglou explained.

“The fact we could bring on two attacking players who are going to be a threat, it maybe looks simple but that ball that Sonny plays, that’s a world-class player in a clutch moment.

“Even Brennan getting on the far post, we’ve helped him to do that.

“It’s not about confidence, I feel like with the squad we have for today and hopefully moving towards, we do have that ability irrespective of where the game’s at, to finish games strong.”

On Son, Postecoglou continued: “Maybe the nation he plays for works against him but I think he’s a world-class player.

“You look at his record in the Premier League, the toughest league in the world, his goal contributions irrespective of how the team’s gone through the time he’s been here have always been right up there.

“Even this year, before he left, I think he was probably the best attacking player in the competition, just my opinion obviously. Certainly he’d be up there.

“He’s a world-class player. I thought we did well to cover his absence.

“Richy (Richarlison) obviously stepped up in terms of goal threat, and a few other players, but to have a world-class player for the run-in is brilliant for us.”

Brighton were crestfallen at full-time and deserved more in the absence of Roberto De Zerbi, who was back in Italy recovering after he had invasive dental surgery this week.

Andrea Maldera patrolled the touchline in his absence and watched Brighton go ahead via a Gross penalty after Danny Welbeck had been fouled in the area by Micky van de Ven.

It could have been 2-0 before half-time but Guglielmo Vicario saved Kaoru Mitoma’s poked effort and Spurs finished strongly before Sarr equalised when he curled home after Lewis Dunk deflected his cross onto the post.

The points looked set to be shared after Welbeck fired wide with 14 minutes left but Richarlison sent Son away and he squared for Johnson to slam home with seconds of the six minutes of stoppage time remaining.

“Yes, to concede a goal in the 96th minute in transition away, it is very tough, but this is our mentality,” Maldera said.

“We want to score always the second goal. We don’t think to stay in our half.

“Yes, we can do better but the last pass, Son is a big player, but until that moment we played a big match, with big courage.”

Brennan Johnson struck the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time to fire Tottenham into the top four after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Brighton.

Spurs looked to have lost more ground after they dropped points at Everton last weekend but Ange Postecoglou’s second-half substitutes did the trick.

Pascal Gross’ 17th-minute penalty had given Brighton a half-time lead in the absence of boss Roberto De Zerbi, who was recovering at home after invasive dental surgery this week.

The points looked set to be shared after Pape Sarr levelled for Tottenham in the 61st minute only for Son Heung-min, back again after Asian Cup duty, to tee up fellow substitute Johnson deep into stoppage time to earn a vital victory.

Brighton assistant Andrea Maldera patrolled the touchline in De Zerbi’s absence and should have watched his team take the lead inside 60 seconds.

Danny Welbeck won back possession from Micky van de Ven by the halfway line and dribbled into the area but Guglielmo Vicario clawed away his shot.

Spurs continued to be sloppy in possession and it was no surprise when Brighton took the lead in the 17th minute.

Gross tackled Rodrigo Bentancur and the ball worked its way to Welbeck, who was caught on the ankle by Van de Ven inside the penalty area.

Without the injured Joao Pedro, Gross took on spot-kick duties and sent Vicario the wrong way for his fifth goal of the season.

Postecoglou’s side did mount a response with Richarlison impressively denied by Jason Steele after a fine through ball by James Maddison, who himself curled wide from 18 yards soon after.

In between had been a flair-up between Cristian Romero and Adam Lallana, which referee Sam Barrott was happy to wave on despite protestations by the Brighton midfielder.

The Seagulls almost doubled their lead prior to the half-hour mark when Bentancur again lost possession but Kaoru Mitoma – back from Asian Cup duty – had a poked effort tipped wide by Vicario from a tight angle.

Spurs did finally start to click in attack towards the end of the first 45, with Richarlison flicking wide from a Timo Werner cross and Dejan Kulusevski forcing Steele into a low save.

Richarlison also squandered a promising position ahead of half-time with Maddison free to his left to ensure it remained 1-0 to Brighton at the break.

Tottenham maintained their momentum after the restart with a Maddison free-kick saved before Werner’s mazy run ended with his shot deflected wide.

It started three corners in quick succession for Spurs but after they failed to make the most of them Postecoglou turned to his bench.

Yves Bissouma, Johnson and Son were all ready to come on when the equaliser did arrive with 61 minutes played.

Kulusevski was the architect with a wonderful through ball releasing Sarr and while his cross was deflected onto the post by Lewis Dunk, the Senegal midfielder was on hand to curl home with his left foot to make it 1-1.

Postecoglou made his triple change immediately after but it failed to have the desired impact aside from Son teeing up Johnson for a snapshot straight at Steele.

Brighton were now in the ascendancy and should have gone back ahead with 14 minutes left when Mitoma got in behind Porro but Welbeck arrowed his cutback past the post.

A minute later and Van de Ven had to throw himself in the way of Facundo Buonanotte’s strike before Spurs had penalty appeals for a handball by Dunk turned away.

Hopes of a late goal were raised when six minutes were added on and with seconds left Richarlison played in Son, who crossed for Johnson to slam home a dramatic late winner.

Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou has warned any proposal to introduce blue cards and sin bins will destroy football.

It was revealed on Thursday that a trial could commence soon where a blue card would be shown for dissent and professional fouls where the offenders would be sin binned for 10 minutes.

FIFA has since clarified the trial will not occur in elite football, while football’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, will not publish plans for the sin bin trial until next month.

However, Postecoglou was unequivocal in his belief it would be a wrong move.

“One team being down to 10 men for 10 minutes, you know what it’s going to do to our game? It’s going to destroy it, mate,” Postecoglou insisted.

“You’re going to have one team just sitting there trying to waste time for 10 minutes waiting for a guy to come on.

“Every other sport is trying to declutter. All we’re trying to do is go the other way for some bizarre reason.”

Postecoglou talked at length about the laws of the game ahead of Saturday’s visit of Brighton.

The Spurs boss defended goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario, who conceded from another corner during last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Everton.

Vicario failed to deal with Dwight McNeil’s delivery into his six-yard area while under pressure from Jack Harrison, which was also the case in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City last month.

Ruben Dias crowded round Vicario on that occasion from a Kevin De Bruyne corner and the Tottenham goalkeeper’s flap resulted in Nathan Ake scoring.

Spurs have written to Professional Game Match Officials Limited this week to get clarification over why both goals have not fallen under the bracket of encroachment.

“We have sent some stuff to get some clarification,” Postecoglou revealed.

“I’m going to get called out for this, but there was a thing that was quite evident in the game that the goalkeeper was a protected species. I don’t think that’s just me making that up.

“The reason people used to say that was that if you really impeded a goalkeeper in any way in the six-yard box, you are going to get a foul. I knew that as a player, I knew that as a manager.

“I think there’s been a shift there where now to me, it’s obstruction.

“If you’re standing in front of a goalkeeper stopping him before a ball has even arrived, in layman’s terms that’s obstruction.

“With the goalkeepers, what’s that going to do now? Well, it’s pretty much opened it up that you can surround the goalkeeper and crowd him and put balls on top of him and just wait for the scramble to finish and see what happens.

“I was really proud of Vic the other day. I think they had nine corners after we conceded and I think he dealt with just about every other one by coming out and actually having a crack at it

“I can’t praise him highly enough over the way he handled it.

“And the whole thing where people say, ‘you’ve got to be stronger’, well, what does that mean?

“If he pushes or does anything to a player, with VAR, you’ve got no chance. You’re going to get a penalty against you.”

Tottenham have captain Son Heung-min back for the visit of Brighton and Postecoglou will hope his presence can boost their unlikely title bid.

Opta Analyst this week claimed Spurs have a 0.1 per cent chance of winning the Premier League this season.

“What did it say, 0.1 per cent? So we (have) got a chance then. Let’s go for it. No problems, no issues with that. We’ve got a chance,” Postecoglou smiled.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a proposal to introduce blue cards and sin-bins to football does not “sound like a fantastic idea” initially.

The PA news agency understands that blue cards will be shown to players sin-binned in new trials to try and improve participant behaviour.

It is understood that the initial trial phase will not feature top-level competitions to avoid players being in events with different rules concurrently.

PA understands that plans to publish details of these trials have been delayed until next month, but Klopp believes a blue card could present “more opportunities to fail”.

He told a press conference: “I think everything what the actual situation shows is we should keep it as simple as somehow possible, for the referees as well.

“It’s a difficult job, often quite emotional when we speak about it more so because it’s after the game, and I think the introduction of a blue card would just give more opportunities to fail as well because the discussion will be: ‘It was a blue card, should it have been a yellow card, now it’s 10 minutes off, in the good old times it would have been a red card or only a yellow’.

“These kind of things just make it more complicated. If they want to test it I have no problem with testing if that’s the first step to agreeing or it already being sure it will happen – I don’t know that.

“It doesn’t sound like a fantastic idea in the first moment but actually I can’t remember the last fantastic idea (which) came from these guys, if they ever had one. I am 56 and, pah, never.”

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou also remained unconvinced by the proposals, adding his “biggest issue” in football is VAR.

“I don’t think people will be surprised by my thoughts on it. I struggle to understand this urgency all of a sudden to bring in new things,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s that much wrong with the game as I see it. My biggest issue with the game right now is that VAR has changed the experience, whether you’re a player, a manager or a supporter or whatever you are I think it’s changed the experience of football.

“I assume that’s a means to an end, that the introduction of technology is going to get us to a better place. I remain to be convinced about that.

“Beyond that, I don’t know why a different colour card is going to make any difference. I struggle with this whole taking from other sports.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes that the proposals would be “tested very well” if introduced.

“I don’t know when we’re going to get there,” he said.

“I think we’ve got a lot going on with decisions, with technology, with what is coming. I don’t know if we are ready for that yet.

“Who knows (if it is a good idea). Hopefully it’s going to be tested very well before they introduce it at this level.”

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe admitted he was “not a big fan” of the new proposals.

He said: “I’m not a big fan, to be honest. I think that’s what yellow cards are for. I think the current system works well, it’s just got to be applied right.

“I think adding a blue card would just add more confusion, in my opinion, so I’m against it.

“I think (sin-bins) would change it a lot, but again not, for me, in a good way because I think it will make it very bitty, more stop-start.

“I fear for the players who would have to go off for 10 minutes and then re-find the rhythm of a Premier League game after 10 minutes out, I’m just not sure it works, personally.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil believes blue cards could “damage” the stadium experience.

“I haven’t looked into it too much, it would damage the in-stadium experience, it would change the game drastically, to have to spend 10 minutes down to 10 men,” he said.

Ange Postecoglou hailed the professionalism of Tottenham captain Son Heung-min ahead of his club return for Saturday’s visit of Brighton.

Son suffered Asian Cup disappointment with South Korea on Tuesday as they lost 2-0 to Jordan at the semi-final stage.

The South Korea skipper cut a dejected figure at full-time, but was quickly back on a plane to the UK and trained on Friday to make himself available for Spurs’ fixture with Brighton.

Postecoglou said: “It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him be like that.

“He was very, very disappointed with Korea’s exit because they haven’t won it for quite a while and after they got past Australia, when you get to the semi-final stage, you feel so close.

“But anyone who watched the tournament (knows) he gave everything for his nation and didn’t leave anyone questioning his commitment to his country.

“He was spent by the end of it but I spoke to him not long after it and he was keen to come back, get amongst the boys again. He was keen to come back here.

“It didn’t surprise me that he wanted to train straight away and be available. That’s why he is the person he is.”

The return of 12-goal Son is the latest boost for Tottenham, who had Pape Sarr involved at Everton and will have Yves Bissouma available for this weekend’s clash with his old club.

Bissouma endured a mixed Africa Cup of Nations campaign with Mali after he struggled with illness, but Postecoglou provided an update on his fitness.

He explained: “Yves had a slight form of malaria before the tournament started, but it cleared up after the tournament started. He had no issues after that.”

Manor Solomon (knee) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) are the only players on the treatment table at Tottenham, but ex-Fulham attacker Solomon could return by the end of February.

Postecoglou is excited to have his options in midfield and attack boosted ahead of the final three months of the season.

Spurs start a run of three consecutive home matches when Brighton visit, but the away side will be without manager Roberto De Zerbi, who has a touchline ban to serve following his third yellow card of the campaign in last weekend’s win over Crystal Palace.

“It’s disappointing that Roberto won’t be there because I’ve got a lot of time for him and a great respect for him,” Postecoglou added.

“It’s the existence we have as managers these days. I think I’m one card away from sitting in the stands, so I shouldn’t cast judgement on others.

“So disappointed he won’t be on the touchline but hopefully I’ll get to say hello to him at some point.”

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