- Tottenham have acquired a knack of winning games late on and never giving up
- James Maddison hailed Spurs’ ‘character and mentality’ to beat Brighton late on
- Ivan Toney is yet to repay his debt to Brentford – will the Bees’ star man help keep them up as a parting gift? Listen to the It’s All Kicking Off podcast
James Maddison did not have the energy to sprint for the goal celebrations as Tottenham claimed another late victory but he could savour the feeling as he flopped on to the turf.
‘We seem to do that a lot, don’t we? I’m dying for a comfortable 3-0 win,’ said Maddison after Spurs came from behind to clinch victory over Brighton, with a 96th-minute goal by Brennan Johnson.
It was a third stoppage-time winner in 11 Premier League home games under Ange Postecoglou, all scored when kicking towards 17,500 fans in the huge South Stand.
Earlier this season, they forced a 96th-minute own goal against nine-man Liverpool and scored twice in added time against Sheffield United to turn defeat into victory in the 100th minute.
‘There’s a beauty to winning late,’ said Maddison. ‘Scoring goals at the death like that, and having to show real character and mentality to keep going at the end of games. It’s a wonderful feeling.’
Brennan Johnson’s stoppage-time winner against Brighton was Spurs’ third in 11 games
Ange Postecoglou insisted that ‘the clock and scoreboard shouldn’t dictate how you play’
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Postecoglou would agree. His team are not immune from conceding late goals, including an equaliser at Everton on their previous outing, but a commitment to keep pushing forward and a refusal to play safe even if it might mean getting caught out is central to his philosophy.
To see tangible evidence that it can bring rewards is important, even if the Spurs boss was not entirely happy with the performance against Brighton.
‘The clock and scoreboard shouldn’t dictate how you play,’ said Postecoglou. ‘You should always be looking for goals irrespective of whether you’re winning 1-0 or losing 1-0.
‘Sometimes that feels counter-intuitive when you’re winning 1-0 but it helps in games when you’re chasing the game. You don’t have to change anything. There’s no instructions from me. The players know what we do. If you’re trying to become a dominant team that wins games of football, I’d rather err on that side than trying to protect things you have.’
It helps, of course, if you have quality options on the bench. Postecoglou demands his team play relentlessly at high intensity. Maddison played through to the final whistle for the first time since his return from injury and was on his last legs as he played his part in the build-up to Johnson’s goal. Son Heung-min, who sprinted down the left and delivered a perfect cross, and Johnson who applied the finish at the back post, however, were relatively fresh. They came on in the 62nd minute, after Pape Matar Sarr had cancelled out Pascal Gross’s first-half penalty.
When Spurs struck late against Sheffield United in September, Postecoglou had been able to send on fresh attacking quality in the shape of Johnson, Richarlison and Ivan Perisic.
James Maddison celebrated the ‘real beauty to winning late’ and the ‘wonderful feeling’
Against Liverpool, it was probably more to do with the fatigue of the visitors, who had long been down to nine men when Joel Matip sliced into his own goal. In an era of five substitutions and 100-minute games, the bench is crucial. And injuries and international call-ups have denied Postecoglou the luxury in recent weeks.
Others can say the same, including Brighton, who play according to the same principles as Tottenham. They have Kaoru Mitoma and Ansu Fati back but are without top scorer Joao Pedro. Roberto de Zerbi is expected back on the training ground today. De Zerbi missed Saturday’s game as he served a touchline ban and watched from home in Italy after dental surgery.
Source: Daily Mail