Johnson strikes late to move Spurs fourth with win over Brighton

Substitute Brennan Johnson scored a dramatic 96th-minute winner to give Tottenham a 2-1 comeback home victory over Brighton to move into the top four.

Johnson slammed home a last-gasp goal which was set up by fellow substitute Heung-Min Son on his first Spurs appearance of 2024 after he returned from the Asian Cup.

Brighton had taken a deserved 17th-minute lead when Micky van de Ven fouled Danny Welbeck inside the box to allow Pascal Gross to score a penalty.

Player ratings

Tottenham: Vicario (7); Porro (6), Romero, (7) Van de Ven (6), Udogie (6); Sarr (8), Bentancur (6); Kulusevski (6), Maddison (6), Werner (6); Richarlison (7).

Subs used: Son (7), Bissouma (6), Johnson (7), Hojbjerg (n/a), Davies (n/a).

Brighton: Steele (7); Lamptey (6), Van Hecke (7), Dunk (6), Estupinan (6); Gross (7), Gilmour (7); Buonanotte (6), Lallana (6), Mitoma (7); Welbeck (6).

Subs used: Fati (6), Ferguson (n/a), Veltman (n/a), Baker-Boaitey (n/a), Baleba (n/a).

Player of the match: Pape Sarr.

But Spurs’ pressure eventually told when Pape Sarr rebounded home a 61st-minute equaliser to ensure Tottenham scored for a 36th consecutive Premier League game – the joint-second longest scoring streak by a side in the competition’s history.

Brighton, who were without boss Roberto De Zerbi with the Italian recovering from “invasive dental surgery”, came close to retaking the lead when substitute Ansu Fati steered wide in the 76th minute.

Tottenham's Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring his side's winner
Tottenham’s Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring his side’s winner

But with seconds remaining Tottenham struck through Johnson to move a point above Aston Villa into fourth, with Unai Emery’s side hosting Manchester United on Sunday, live on Sky Sports.

Brighton’s agonising defeat damages their European qualification hopes as they remain eighth and are 11 points off fifth-placed Villa.

Spurs’ late show breaks Brighton hearts

Team news

  • Spurs captain Heung-Min Son and midfielder Yves Bissouma were both named on the bench after returning from the Asian Cup and Africa Cup of Nations respectively.
  • Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou made two changes from the 2-2 draw at Everton as Pape Sarr and Dejan Kulusevski came in for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Brennan Johnson.
  • Brighton assistant coach Andrea Maldera took charge of the game with boss Roberto De Zerbi suspended and also recovering from what the club called “very invasive dental surgery”.
  • The Seagulls made five changes from the 4-1 home win over Crystal Palace as Kaoru Mitoma started his first game of 2024 after returning from the Asian Cup.

It was always going to be a match that promised drama and goalmouth action and it delivered from the first whistle, with Spurs goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario making a fine save after just 47 seconds to deny Welbeck’s curling effort from inside the box.

Brighton’s fast start was eventually rewarded when Van de Ven clumsily fouled Welbeck inside the box to allow Gross to score a 17th-minute spot-kick.

Pascal Gross gives Brighton 1-0 lead from the penalty spot
Pascal Gross gives Brighton 1-0 lead from the penalty spot

Tottenham responded well with Richarlison’s one-on-one finish superbly stopped by Brighton goalkeeper Jason Steele in the 22nd minute, as James Maddison then bent one wide four minutes later.

The end-to-end encounter then saw Vicario make his second top save as he prevented Kaoru Mitoma’s inventive outside-of-the-boot effort from flying in.

Tottenham pushed for a leveller before half-time but were frustrated as Richarlison put his third shot of the half wide from Timo Werner’s cross, and then Steele denied Dejan Kulusevski moments later.

Spurs continued their pressure on the Brighton goal in the second half as Maddison had a 48th-minute free-kick saved before Werner saw a low shot from outside the box deflect wide.

But the home side’s dominance finally paid off when Kulusevski laid in Sarr whose first-time effort was deflected onto the post before the midfielder rebounded home to bring Spurs level in the 61st minute.

 Pape Matar Sarr celebrates his equaliser
Pape Matar Sarr celebrates his equaliser

Immediately after the equaliser, Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou made a triple change a Son was brought on to a huge reception following his return from the Asian Cup.

The South Korean, who took the captain’s armband from Cristian Romero, nearly made an instant impact as he slipped in Johnson but his low shot was straight at Steele.

Despite Son’s introduction, Brighton took control of the game and came close to retaking the lead twice in the space of a minute as substitute Fati rolled past the far post from Mitoma’s cross before Van de Ven blocked Facundo Buonanotte’s strike just wide.

Brennan Johnson celebrates scoring a late winner for Spurs
Brennan Johnson (right) celebrates scoring a stoppage-time winner for Spurs

But, just as the game looked to be heading for a draw, Richarlison played in Son, who crossed for Johnson to strike a late winner to send the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium into pandemonium.

Ange: Returning players made a difference

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Tottenham head coach Ange Postecoglou was buoyant after the last-gasp win

Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou told Sky Sports:

“Scoring in the last minute you have those mixed feelings of joy and relief. First half, we lacked things but second half was better, we put them under more pressure and played cleaner football and ultimately got the rewards.

“The positive thing is that we had players being able to come on that could make an impact for us, which does make a difference particularly when games are tight if you can bring on some quality and both of those contributions were key.

“Big [to have Son back] because he’s our leader and he’s a world-class player. Before he went away he was the top striker in the league in terms of his goal involvements and his influence so it’s great to get him back.”

Maldera: I was in contact with De Zerbi but we missed him

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Brighton assistant head coach Andrea Maldera explains how Roberto De Zerbi, who missed the game after undergoing dental surgery in Italy, communicated with him

Brighton assistant coach Andrea Maldera told Sky Sports:

“In the first half he [De Zerbi] watched the game. At half-time I spoke with him and he told me something, and in the second half when there were a lot of substitutions he was on the phone to our assistants on the bench. The substitutions were his idea.

“He watched the game from Italy. The communication is sometimes not easy because when you speak to the bench or the phone the football is going on. It’s tough for the players as well because for them it’s not easy.

“Roberto is our leader. It’s okay if he can stay on the bench if he’s suspended but not to stay with us all week is not easy. The players worked it very well and I’m disappointed for them because today they fight a lot. They wanted the result for Roberto but this is football.

“We are disappointed with the result because they deserve to draw, maybe win, but not lose the game.”

Ange’s subs eventually pay off for Spurs

For most of the second half, it looked as though the narrative after this game was going to be how Ange Postecoglou’s substitutions backfired.

The Tottenham manager made a triple change in the 63rd minute, bringing on Son, Johnson and Yves Bissouma moments after Sarr has scored his side’s equaliser.

Spurs were enjoying their best spell of the game – but with the subs came a loss of momentum. Werner’s pace, Kulusevski’s creativity and Rodrigo Bentancur’s control had been lost.

Instead, Brighton regained the upper hand, while Spurs mustered just two shots in the following 30 minutes.

But then the changes paid off. With space to run into after a turnover in possession, Son did what Werner could not during his time on the pitch, executing the perfect pass for an unmarked Johnson to fire into the net.

After producing so little for most of the second half, Postecoglou’s two attacking subs combined to score the winner – Spurs’ fifth in a row at home in the Premier League.

As the delirious celebrations at full-time showed, Postecoglou can do no wrong in the eyes of Spurs’ supporters.
Joe Shread

Risky style finally costs Brighton

Brighton and Hove Albion assistant manager Andrea Maldera during the Premier League match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday February 10, 2024.
Brighton assistant coach Andrea Maldera was in charge at Spurs following the absence of boss Roberto De Zerbi

Roberto De Zerbi may have been back in Italy due to a combination of dental surgery and a touchline ban but the approach of his side in north London was familiar – risky, aggressive and highly entertaining.

Ultimately, that high-stakes approach cost them, with a loss of possession in a dangerous area as they looked to clinch an impressive away win allowing Johnson to deliver a sucker punch deep into injury time.

It’s tempting to conclude that Brighton should have been more cautious. But in fact, Johnson’s winner was the first time they have dropped points in the Premier League this season by conceding in the 75th minute or later.

What’s more, the Seagulls have come from behind to claim draws in the final 15 minutes on four separate occasions.

Brighton’s attacking approach works – just look at the progress they have made under De Zerbi since his arrival in the autumn of 2022. They were on top in the final 30 minutes at Spurs and just as easily could have been celebrating a late win of their own.

But Seagulls fans know by now that, with De Zerbi in charge, there will be the occasional bitter blow along with the thrilling highs.
Joe Shread

Opta stats: Spurs leave it late again

  • Brennan Johnson’s late strike was Tottenham’s third 90th-minute winner in the Premier League this season (also vs Sheffield United and Liverpool), with no side netting more this term (Manchester United also 3).
  • Brighton (20) and Tottenham (19) have both scored and conceded in more different Premier League games than any other sides this season.
  • Brighton have scored three penalty goals against Tottenham this season; it’s the eighth time a team has scored three penalties against an opponent in a single Premier League campaign, with the Spurs the first side to be on the receiving end more than once (also v Leicester in 2020-21).
  • All three of Brennan Johnson’s Premier League goals for Tottenham have put them in the lead. He’s now either scored (2) or assisted (2) a goal in each of his last four home league games for Spurs.

What’s next?

Tottenham return to Premier League action next Saturday when they host Wolves; kick-off 3pm.

Brighton will be live on Sky Sports next weekend when they travel to Sheffield United on Super Sunday; kick-off 2pm.

Sunday 18th February 1:00pm

Kick off 2:00pm

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