Christian Eriksen helps Tottenham Hotspur pop Premier League cherry at Wembley with vital success over AFC Bournemouth
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Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1 AFC Bournemouth 0
Christian Eriksen’s 47th minute goal gave Tottenham Hotspur a much-needed Premier League victory at Wembley Stadium on what was a tense afternoon in Brent.
AFC Bournemouth frustrated Spurs for long periods under the arch and had some very good chances, but found Hugo Lloris in top form.
With Tottenham’s usually reliable forward Harry Kane enduring a rare quiet day, it was Eriksen who was the hero.
The Dane continued his own purple patch with his seventh goal in his last 10 outings for club and country to break the Lilywhites duck in the league at the national stadium after draws with Burnley and Swansea City plus the opening day defeat to Chelsea.
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It was two weeks since Spurs last played and thrashed Huddersfield Town 4-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium and Pochettino made one change from that match with Ben Davies missing out due to illness and Heung-min Son coming in.
With the Welshman unavailable, Tottenham played a 4-2-3-1 formation with Jan Vertonghen moving to left-back.
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Kieran Trippier was on the opposite flank and making his 50th appearance for the club, while Son was part of a three behind Harry Kane.
Eddie Howe made two changes from the side which drew 0-0 with Leicester City last time out on September 30.
Former Spurs striker Jermain Defoe dropped to the bench alongside Marc Pugh and Steve Cook and Dan Gosling came into the starting XI.
This was the start of a crucial period for Spurs with games to come against Real Madrid, Liverpool, West Ham United and Manchester United over the next fortnight.
Including this match, five of Tottenham’s next seven were in Brent under the arch too, so it was vital Pochettino’s men registered their first Premier League win at Wembley this afternoon.
Vertonghen, at left-back, was heavily involved from the off and it was his cross which caused some break panic in the 10th minute, but Asmir Begovic catched comfortably.
Three minutes later and Harry Winks, fresh from his England debut, headed into Dele Alli’s path and he put Eriksen through, but the Dane’s touch was heavy and Steve Cook cleared.
Spurs had started with a good tempo, however, and Alli saw a shot blocked moments later before Winks won the first corner of the game.
The set-piece routine was smart with Trippier picking out Eriksen at the back post and he drilled the ball towards the six-yard area, where Alli back heeled over from close range.
It was an encouraging moment, but not a sign of things to come, as the Cherries enjoyed a purple patch at Wembley soon after.
Tottenham were cut open in the 18th minute when Josh King held off Sanchez well before finding Adam Smith on the right.
Smith, a former Spurs youngster, cut back for Junior Stanislas on the edge and his effort was deflected behind by the hosts’ Columbian defender.
Bournemouth initially appealed for a penalty, but referee Robert Madley correctly awarded a corner after the ball hit Sanchez’s chest.
Although Howe’s team couldn’t do a lot from their first corner, they managed to keep the ball alive and win another.
From the second set-piece, Stanislas’ delivery deflected off Eric Dier and Lloris made an outstanding reflex save down at his feet before Alli cleared to Lewis Cook, but he could only fire over on the edge of the area.
Spurs, after a fairly bright start, had been given two let-offs, which clearly boosted the visitors spirits.
With the atmosphere at Wembley subdued, and Bournemouth fans joking it was like the Emirates, Tottenham tried to get on with their task of opening the scoring.
Kane, who had been almost anonymous before the 27th minute, suddenly sprung into action and won a foul on the right which saw Steve Cook pick up the first booking of the game.
Eriksen’s delivery found Alli, yet he couldn’t flick towards goal and the Dane blazed over with his second effort.
For Bournemouth, it was a job well done at the half an hour mark with the crowd growing restless and nerves creeping into Tottenham’s play.
A lovely flick by Eriksen gave Kane a sight of goal in the 33rd minute, but his strike hit the ground and Begovic easily parried wide.
Trippier’s resulting corner found Toby Alderweireld inside the area, yet he could only head over from 10-yards and another decent opening had been wasted.
With the Cherries currently enjoying their trip to the capital, Pochettino swapped Son and Eriksen, though it had little effect on proceedings at Wembley.
Frustration was increasingly creeping into the hosts play and at the break, it remained goalless with Tottenham not testing Begovic anywhere near enough.
Spurs got the second half underway with the home fans roaring them on and in the 47th minute the breakthrough was finally made.
Tottenham got some luck, but they didn’t care, as Son ran at the Bournemouth back four before squaring for Eriksen.
Simon Francis slide in on the former Ajax playmaker, but the ball rebounded off him and Spurs’ number 23 slotted into the corner.
It was the fortunate break which Tottenham needed and seemed to take the pressure off the team.
Their play was suddenly quicker, with better movement and tempo and Wembley was alive with the home fans singing loud and proud.
Winks saw a cross-cum-shot parried away from goal by Begovic soon after with the hosts firmly on the front foot.
Spurs had the ball in the net again in the 58th minute when Kane headed in Trippier’s cross from the right, but he was correctly adjusted to have been offside.
It was the start of a sustained period of pressure from Pochettino’s men with Begovic called into action twice in quick succession.
Firstly Winks played a wonderful ball into Kane’s path and he let it roll across his body, but Bournemouth’s custodian was on hand to deny the England man.
Alli latched onto the rebound and teed up Kane again, yet Begovic got out quickly blocking his shot and therefore the Cherries survived a big scare in the 62nd minute.
It wasn’t the end of the pressure, however, with Trippier’s corner finding Alli, who knocked down for Kane, but the forward controlled instead of heading towards goal and despite going down under pressure from Nathan Ake, nothing was given.
After pushing for a second goal, it was now the turn of the South Coast side to show what they could do.
King briefly got in behind the home back four, but Vertonghen managed to come across and end the danger before an away corner came to nothing.
With Howe scenting his Cherries may have a chance of taking something from the game, he introduced Jordon Ibe and Defoe with quarter of an hour left.
Moussa Sissoko also came on for Tottenham with Son making way while the home fans serenaded their old forward following his introduction.
The Cherries substitutes were to have an immediate impact with Ibe playing in Defoe and the one-time Spurs forward seeing a shot saved at the near post by Lloris.
It was a major warning sign for Tottenham with 12 minutes left and King headed over seconds later from a cross into the area.
After those brief worrying moments, Spurs’ substitute made his presence felt with good play which resulted in Eriksen unleashing a thunderbolt of a strike, but Begovic was on hand to parry it wide.
Pochettino made another change with five minutes to go, as Fernando Llorente replaced Kane for the final exchanges.
Tottenham almost made it 2-0 three minutes later when Eriksen and Trippier combined on the right and Dier turned beautiful inside the area, but Steve Cook magnificently blocked his shot.
Sissoko was intent on making the most of his chance and embarked on an excellent run in the first of three minutes of stoppage time.
The French winger eventually curled in a cross for Alli, but he could only head wide while under a lot of pressure.
Alli made way moments later to warm applause after looking closer to his best this afternoon with his work rate in particular much better.
There was still time for Tottenham to create another opportunity, although they really failed to make the most of it.
It was Sissoko again who was at the centre of the action, as he won the ball and ran at Begovic’s goal.
With the Cherries committing men forward, Spurs found themselves in a four v one situation, but wasted it.
Sissoko’s pass was overhit and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou’s pace made it look a better ball than it was and he won a foul on the edge of the area after being caught by Begovic.
The Bournemouth goalkeeper picked up a booking for his troubles and then saved Eriksen’s resulting free kick effort before the final whistle was eventually blown.
It handed Tottenham a crucial three points ahead of Tuesday’s tantalising Champions League fixture away to Real Madrid.
The win for Spurs also means they are the first home team to win a league game at Wembley since Leyton Orient beat Southend United 3-1 in 1930.
Pochettino’s men are third in the table after their fifth victory in the Premier League and just three points off Manchester United in second.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Dier, Winks; Eriksen, Alli (Nkoudou 90), Son (Sissoko 75); Kane (Llorente 85).
Unused substitutes: Vorm, Foyth, Aurier, Walker-Peters.
AFC Bournemouth: Begovic; Smith (Defoe 75), Francis, Ake, S.Cook, Daniels; Stanislas (Ibe 75), L.Cook (Mousset 83), Surman, Gosling; King.
Unused substitutes: Boruc, Pugh, Arter, Afobe.