Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion: Kane and Dele help Spurs survive early scare
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Dele Alli of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates with teammates after scoring his teams second goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 26, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur continued their impressive Boxing Day unbeaten record, bouncing back from the disheartening loss at home to Chelsea on Sunday with a much-needed win against a hard-working Brighton side.

The record, which stems back 16 years to 2003, was under threat for a while after Adam Webster gave the Seagulls the lead with a header from a free-kick, won by controversially by Ezequiel Schelotto.

Spurs, however, deserved their equaliser after the restart in the second half when a defensive clearance cannoned off Lucas Moura into the path of Harry Kane who finished emphatically on the second time of asking.

Spurs grabbed their second of the match in the 72nd minute through another marvellous goal from Dele Alli - the Englishman looking like he is back to his best.

Despite late pressure from the visitors, Spurs hung on to go fifth temporarily - avoiding similar embarrassment they suffered at the hands of Brighton in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Story of the match

The game began at a high tempo, with both sides starting with an intent to attack on the front foot.

Brighton midfielder Steven Alzate was given room on the edge of the area to get his shot away after turning Moussa Sissoko, but the Colombia international dragged his shot wide.

Spurs reacted to the early scare well, with Harry Kane putting a delicious through ball towards the back post with Ryan Sessegnon arriving, but his effort was turned behind for a corner by Schelotto.

Minutes later Sessegnon was involved again when a trademark Toby Alderweireld cross-field diagonal ball reached the feet of the England youth international, but his poor effort struck the post - with the offside flag sparing his blushes.

Brighton's high flying full-backs Schelotto and Bernado then saw Spurs go to a back three with Jan Vertonghen shifting into the left-side of central defence and Sessegnon dropping back to the left wing-back role.

The new change in system almost saw the home side benefit immediately when Kane dispatched Harry Winks' through ball comfortably in the 24th minute - however, VAR's intervention saw the goal ruled out for offside.

The new addition to stadiums showing the infringement and VAR evidence accompanying the decision was a success, calming down the players and fans.

Spurs kept the pressure on the Seagulls defence, with Lucas Moura winning two free-kicks on the edge of the Brighton area in quick succession - both defended well by the away side.

The visitors were making life difficult for Spurs, in particular, midfielders Pascal Gross, Aaron Mooy and Alzate all three combining well in the Spurs half, leaving Jose Mourinho visibly frustrated on the sidelines.

Brighton got their reward for their confident play in the 37th minute after Schelotto won a controversial free-kick off Harry Winks who was yellow-carded for his reaction and will consequently miss the next game.

The resulting free-kick was met by Adam Webster with a venomous header that Gazzaniga had no chance in saving, giving Brighton a 1-0 lead that they would go into half-time with.

Spurs came flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half and deserved their equaliser when talisman Kane found himself unmarked in the box after a defensive clearance cannoned off Lucas into the path of the England captain - whose first shot was saved but he made no mistake with his second.

Kane could have notched his second minutes later in a similar fashion when another defensive clearance cannoned into his path, but his first touch let him down and Brighton keeper Matt Ryan collected the ball comfortably.

The introduction of Giovani Lo Celso for Ryan Sessegnon in the 56th minute was an inspired one - the Argentine providing energy into the Spurs midfield and getting the crowd going with his work rate and dribbling.

The Seagulls may have felt aggrieved 10 minutes later when already yellow-carded Spurs midfielder Winks brought down Gross on the edge of the area - but referee Graham Scott chose to keep his cards in his pocket.

The following free-kick was struck sweetly by German midfielder Gross, but Gazzaniga was equal to it, producing a fantastic save to keep the score level.

Dele Alli gave Spurs the lead in the 72nd minute with a fantastic curling effort into the far corner, assisted by a brilliant knock-down by Serge Aurier after Christian Eriksen, fresh off the bench, found him with a beautiful through ball.

Moments later it could have been three, but Davinson Sanchez was unable to turn the cross beyond Ryan in the Seagulls' goal.

VAR had to check a possible red card for violent conduct from Moussa Sissoko resulting in handbags between a handful of players from both sides, but the Frenchman was given a yellow.

In the closing stages, Brighton upped the tempo and began piling on the pressure, but Spurs looked deadly on the counter - with Kane missing a sitter before Ryan saved fantastically from Dele.

Eriksen then had a glorious chance after Lo Celso sent Sissoko through bearing down on goal; the Frenchman opting to cut back for the Dane, but Alzate blocked brilliantly.

Spurs saw out the game in the end with relative ease and thoroughly deserved the three points - but Brighton again gave a good account of themselves in what has been an impressive season from them.

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