It took Tottenham Hotspur a while, but Harry Kane’s second-half penalty eventually provided a route past the stubborn Middlesbrough for Spurs as they finished the game 1-0 to ensure that Chelsea still have to watch their back in the race for the title.
Middlesbrough had the first big chance of the game at the White Hart Lane, but Alvaro Negredo failed to keep his header down after some good work on the flanks by Adama Traore. That seemed to have spurred the hosts into life as Son Heung-Min forced a sharp save from Victor Valdes, before Dele Alli failed to find the target from close range after being picked out by Christian Eriksen.
Frustrations were growing among the home support as they saw Toby Alderweireld hit the post and Harry Kane head over the bar. However, just before the hour mark Son won a penalty after being tripped by Bernardo and Kane made no mistake from the spot sending Victor Valdes the wrong way to finally break the deadlock. Marten de Roon spurned a great chance to equalize for Boro in injury time, giving Tottenham their seventh consecutive win at home.
Having watched the Blues open up a 12-point lead at the top of the table earlier in the day, the Lilywhites knew that nothing other than a win would do, and they pulled it off ahead of what will be another important fixture against Liverpool coming up next. Let’s assess how each Tottenham player fared on the evening:
Hugo Lloris – 6/10
Will have been glad to see Negredo miss the target early in the game. Was hardly tested after that and was a spectator for most of the game.
Kyle Walker – 6/10
Was a constant threat on the right side and put in a couple of lovely crosses for Kane to attack. However, seemed to fade out as the match progressed.
Eric Dier – 7/10
The Englishman was a solid presence at the back throughout the game. Made a great tackle on Traore to deny an effort on goal and won almost everything in the air.
Toby Alderweireld – 8/10
Did brilliantly to nullify Negredo’s threat for almost the entirety of the match. Almost got himself on the scoresheet, heading against the post from Christian Eriksen’s corner.
Ben Davies – 6/10
Came in for the injured Danny Rose, the Welshman found the going tough early in the game against Traore, but grew into stature as the game wore on. Not involved heavily in attack.
Moussa Dembele – 7/10
Used possession smartly, sprayed the ball around well and was strong in tackles. Helped Spurs control the game in the middle of the park alongside Wanyama.
Victor Wanyama – 7/10
Another brilliant display from the Kenyan in the midfield. Broke up play and linked with the advanced midfielders well. Made sure Spurs maintained the pressure on Boro with his strong and imposing presence.
Son Heung-Min – 8/10
Was a constant thorn for the Middlesbrough defence with his excellent movement and running. Forced Valdes into a fine save early on. Demanded the ball at every possible opportunity and gave Calum Chambers a torrid time throughout the evening. Won the penalty after drawing a foul from Bernardo. Man of the Match performance.
Dele Alli – 7/10
Missed a chance from close range just eight minutes into the game after being found by Eriksen. However, put that miss behind and put in a bright performance popping up in dangerous positions regularly.
Christian Eriksen – 8/10
Looked up for it from the kick-off, playing in some lovely balls inside the attacking third of the pitch. Tested Valdes from a powerful effort in the second half. Was a livewire each time he got on the ball.
Harry Kane – 7/10
Headed over before putting the ball in the net from an offside position. However, made no mistake from the spot in the second half to score the eventual winner.
Moussa Sissoko – NA
Came on for Son in the 81st minute and caused a few problems to the Boro defence with his pace.
Harry Winks – NA
Replaced Alli with less than two minutes left to play.
Vincent Janssen – NA
Subbed on in the third minute of the added time for Harry Kane.