Sanchez earns Spurs late win at Watford
Davinson Sanchez's 96th-minute header gives Tottenham 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road
Saturday, 1st January — By Dan Carrier
TOTTENHAM 1 (Sanchez 90+6)
ANTONIO Conte made it eight games undefeated since taking charge of Tottenham in this New Year’s Day victory against struggling Watford – but it took an injury-time header from Davinson Sanchez to seal the points.
Speaking after the match at Vicarage Road, Conte was quick to recognise Tottenham’s limitations as they stole a late winner against a team that has lost six on the bounce and yet to keep a clean sheet this season.
He said: “I think at the end it was good to find a way to get three points. In the Southampton game, we were unable to find a way but we created the chances to score today.
“The opponent was well organised defensively with nine or 10 players behind the ball, so it wasn’t easy.
“We found the space to attack and when we find a narrow team like this, we need to improve. I know we have space for improvement and also to improve the quality in the final pass.”
Spurs started quickly, enjoying all of the ball and probing their opponents for weaknesses to exploit. But despite plenty of time, they offered little real threat in the opening exchanges.
On 30 minutes, Harry Kane got a clear sight of goal but his low shot failed to curl enough to come inside the far post. Moments before, Sergio Reguilon had cut inside and tested keeper Daniel Bachmann with a powerful hit.
As Tottenham continued to press, with Emerson Royal afforded acres of space he struggled to make decent use of, Kane took a tumble under the challenge of Craig Cathcart. On another day, he may have earned a penalty.
The second half saw Spurs again lay siege: a Lucas Moura effort from range was well-saved, and then a turn and twist by Kane saw the striker shoot with his left and Bachmann tip the effort over.
But Watford began to sense that Tottenham were not hiding any secret weapons, and, as they began to feel comfortable repelling unimaginative attacks, they started to go toe-to-toe with the visitors.
Joshua King broke on 53, and his superb drive was goal-bound until Hugo Lloris got a whisper of his fingertips to the ball.
Spurs also had to ride their luck. On 81, Joao Pedro dashed clear after a midfield mix-up. Lloris was smart off his line, and met the ball and the player. Referee Rob Jones waved away calls for a penalty – though replays suggested Lloris was very fortunate.
After a delay to the game caused by a fan being taken ill, it was the otherwise quiet Heung-min Son who would eventually make the difference.
The forward shifted to the left after Reguilon was hoiked, and his trickery won a free-kick out wide into the sixth-minute of added time.
Son’s fierce cross into the six-yard box saw Sanchez reach it and the Colombian’s perfect header sealed victory.
The win moves Spurs within two points of fourth spot, with two games in hand – but also highlights how much room there is for improvement.
Watford: Bachmann, Troost-Ekong, Louza (Cleverly, 90+2), King, Masina, Sema (Hernandez, 90+10), Cathcart, Sissoko, Dennis (Pedro, 45), Sierralta, Kucka
Substitutes not used: Angelini, Ngakia, Gosling, Fletcher, Tufan, Morris
Spurs: Lloris, Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Royal, Hojbjerg, Skipp (Winks, 70), Reguilon (Lo Celso, 83), Moura (Gil, 90+1), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Gollini, Doherty, Rodon, Tanganga, Alli, Ndombele