Spurs fail to tame Wolves and end 2018 with defeat
PUBLISHED: 17:07 29 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:30 29 December 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
Wolverhampton Wanderers failed to read the script as they stunned Spurs with a fine 3-1 win in the Premier League at Wembley Stadium.
It was both club’s last fixture of 2018 and Nuno Espirito Santo’s team ensured they will be the happier when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Harry Kane had given Tottenham Hotspur a half-time led in Brent, but Wolves, who were superb throughout, hit back with goals by Willy Boly, Rual Jimenez and Helder Costa to secure all three points.
Mauricio Pochettino would have been disappointed to see such a successful festive spell end in this manner, especially after appearing to be in control at the break.
Spurs made four changes from the team which thrashed AFC Bournemouth 5-0 earlier this week on Boxing Day.
Juan Foyth, Kyle Walker-Peters, Danny Rose and Lucas Moura dropped to the bench, while Kieran Trippier, Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies and Dele Alli returned.
Toby Alderweireld and Christian Eriksen both started again and the pair brought up milestones in the process.
Alderweireld made his 100th Premier League start and Eriksen made his 250th outing for Tottenham.
Someone who was not involved was Erik Lamela, however, who had a calf injury and there was a place on the bench for Georges-Kevin Nkoudou as a result.
This was Spurs’ final game of 2018 and they picked up where they left off against the Cherries by winning a corner inside a minute.
It was taken short and came for Heung-min Son, but his shot was blocked by an away defender and cleared.
A delay occurred almost straight away after when Leander Dendoncker and Moussa Sissoko had a slight clash, but the pair were able to continue.
Tottenham then created another opportunity when Son was found in space around 25-yards out, but he dragged his effort wide and it remained goalless after 10 minutes.
Pochettino’s team were full of poise and purpose and attacked again with 12 played as Kane dribbled past Ruben Neves and was fouled by Jimenez.
Trippier stepped up to take the free kick just outside the area, but despite getting a shot over the wall, his effort was comfortable for Rui Patricio in the Wolves goal.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who had been praised by Pochettino in the build-up to the game, hit back and threatened for the first time in the 16th minute when Adama Traore’s cross was blocked by Davies for a corner.
Wolves appeared for a penalty and it did hit Davies’ hand, but seemed too close to the defender to be deliberate.
Moments later and Davies was involved again and this time he was penalised when he hauled down Matt Doherty on the edge of the Tottenham area.
Ivan Cavaleiro whipped in the free kick and Ryan Bennett rose tallest, but he headed over and Spurs soon got back on the front foot.
Kane and Son combined in the 18th minute to create an opportunity for Alli, yet he curled off target from outside the area.
Moments later and Eriksen received the ball around 25-yards, following Alli’s lay-off, and let fly, but Patricio got across well to save with one-hand.
Tottenham were pressing and in the 22nd minute the opener did arrive and in some style too!
Harry Winks collided with Cavaleiro and the ball rolled for Son, who quickly passed into Kane’s path.
The England captain had plenty to do, but cut inside Boly and then unleashed a stunning curling effort with his left foot from 25-yards which just about beat Patricio.
It was a wonderful strike and a collector’s item for Kane, who is normally on target from inside the area.
Wolves, to their credit, replied strongly and Spurs defender Sanchez had to slide in to prevent Jimenez getting a shot off on goal with 25 on the clock.
The Lilywhites didn’t need an invitation to shoot before Kane’s opener, but they were trying from all ranges now.
In the 29th minute Winks found Son with a delicious curling pass and the South Korea international dribbled inside and let fly, but saw his dipping effort just fly over.
A slight lull occurred after the latest chance, though Tottenham continued to push for a second goal at Wembley where a decent atmosphere was being created by the away fans and home following.
It was another attendance capped at 51,000, but there were very few empty seats in the first and second tiers.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the first 45 and they went by with little to note as Spurs led by a single goal at the break.
Both sides began the second period sluggishly, although Alderweireld was alert on two occasions to deny the visitors.
Wolves made a change before the hour mark when Costa replaced Traore in the 59th minute.
More substitutions were made nine minutes later as Alli, who had cut a peripheral figure, was replaced by Moura and Joao Moutinho, who nearly signed for Spurs many moons ago, came on for Dendoncker.
Both sets of fans scented a turning of the tide as the game approached the 70-minute mark with the visitors growing in belief.
Pochettino scented the need to change something and was preparing to bring on teen Oliver Skipp, but then Wolves equalised.
Davies headed the ball behind for a corner and with Skipp on the touchline, Moutinho whipped in a corner which was met by the head of Boly and he powered an effort past Lloris – much to the delight of boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
Boly was unmarked and Tottenham, from a position of strength, had chucked away a lead at Wembley.
The Wolves supporters were enjoying their trip to the national stadium and they were beginning to believe they could leave with all three points.
In the 81st minute Kane went down outside the area and appealed for a free kick and while referee Stuart Attwell blew his whistle, it was to give a foul against the Spurs man for simulation – not what he wanted a day after receiving an MBE.
And then even worse occurred for Tottenham as Wolves attacked again and this time they added the required finishing touch.
Cavaleiro, a constant threat in the second half, brought the ball forward and foul Jimenez, who composed himself before curling an effort into the bottom corner with 83 minutes played.
The newly promoted club were leading at Wembley and heading for a famous win, but back came the hosts and they had weak penalty appeals waved away in the 86th minute when Eriksen went down under a slight touch by goalscorer Boly.
Spurs did have a corner, though, but from it they found themselves hit on the counter and they conceded a third.
Trippier gave it away and in a flash the Wanderers had sent Costa through on goal, after he timed his run to beat the offside trap perfectly, and he side-footed past Lloris to secure the points for Nuno Espiritio Santo’s team.
Five minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the 90 and the majority of it was spent with the visitors in possession and the away fans cheering every pass.
When referee Attwell blew for full time, the Wolves supporters celebrated a superb win jubilantly.
It also brings Tottenham’s terrific record against newly promoted clubs to an end. At the start of this match, they were undefeated in 39 matches against newly promoted sides – winning 36 of them – but that is over now.
Spurs will look to recover in quick time for the trip to Cardiff City on New Year’s Day, who are another team to come up from the Championship last season.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris (c); Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Sissoko, Winks; Eriksen, Alli (Moura 68), Son; Kane.
Unused substitutes: Gazzaniga, Rose, Walker-Peters, Foyth, Nkoudou, Skipp.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patricio; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Neves, Dendoncker (Moutinho 68), Otto; Traore (Costa 59) Jimenez, Cavaleiro (Gibbs-White 85).
Unused substitutes: Ruddy, Saiss, Vinagre, Bonatini.