Harry Kane hit the winner as Tottenham claimed their first victory since Antonio Conte’s departure, beating top-six rivals Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 in a feisty contest on Saturday.
Kane found the net with a deflected effort with 11 minutes remaining after Son Heung-min’s stunning goal – his 100th in the Premier League – was canceled out by Lewis Dunk’s header.
Roberto De Zerbi joined interim Spurs boss Cristiano Stellini in being sent to the stands during the heated affair, with the visitors denied a goal in both halves for handball offences.
Tottenham’s win keeps them three points behind fourth-placed Manchester United in the race for Champions League qualification, with Brighton seven points further adrift after a frustrating loss.
Tottenham took the lead in spectacular fashion with their first try of the game, Son getting inside to whip a 25-yard effort past Jason Steele and into the top right corner.
Kaoru Mitoma had no chance to equalise, as he was penalized for handball before volleying into the bottom right corner, before Hugo Lloris produced two excellent saves to keep out Alexis Mac Allister’s long-range effort and push Moises Caicedo’s drive onto the post.
However, Brighton’s pressure finally told after 34 minutes when Dunk headed home Solly March’s corner.
Brighton thought they were leading when Danny Welbeck’s second-half strike deflected off Mac Allister and beyond Lloris, but a VAR review found the ball had hit the midfielder’s hand.
De Zerbi and Stellini, who engaged in an animated exchange before kick-off, saw red after a break on the touchline on the hour mark as a tense affair threatened to erupt.
Both sides wasted chances as they chased a decisive winner to stay in the hunt for the top four and it was Spurs who got one when Kane’s powerful finish deflected into the top left corner to break Brighton hearts.
Tottenham player ratings (3-4-3)
GK: Hugo Lloris – 6/10 – Sharp stops to deny Mac Allister and Caicedo.
CB: Cristian Romero – 6/10 – Charged out of the back three to press Brighton’s midfield with contrasting results.
CB: Eric Dier – 5/10 – Did make some booming defensive clearances but was also pretty errant positionally.
CB: Clement Lenglet – 6/10 – Dependable and didn’t get exposed in any one-v-one situations.
RWB: Pedro Porro – 6/10 – Lots of attacking intent and managed to come out of his tangle with Mitoma without too many bruises.
CM: Oliver Skipp – 6/10 – Showed some much-needed drive on the ball.
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 5/10 – Had some real horror-show moments on the edge of his own box. Exuded nervous energy and was all over the place – not in a good way – yet ended up assisting Kane’s winner.
LWB: Ivan Perisic – 6/10 – Lacked final product, ballooning the ball into the stands from good positions. Did get an assist for Son’s goal.
RF: Dejan Kulusevski – 6/10 – Looked strong running with the ball when in stride. Faded before being subbed.
ST: Harry Kane – 7/10 – Was not at his influential best but arrived on the scene to put Spurs ahead late on.
LF: Son Heung-min – 7/10 – Shuffled past Veltman and curled a beauty into the far corner to bring up 100 Premier League goals.
Arnaut Danjuma (78′ for Kulusevski) – 6/10 – On shortly before Spurs’ second and helped see the win out.
Pape Matar Sarr (86′ for Skipp) – N/A
Japhet Tanganga (90′ for Perisic) – N/A
Cristian Stellini – 6/10 – Didn’t appear to be overly involved in the staff’s Royal Rumble but was still dismissed. Tried a few different things but Spurs had little control at any point.
Brighton player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: Jason Steele – 6/10 – Not called into action very often. Good stop to deny Perisic.
RB: Joel Veltman – 5/10 – Gave Son a little too much space to get a shot away early on. Otherwise dependable.
CB: Lewis Dunk – 7/10 – Climb highest unmarked to nod in Brighton’s equaliser and handled Kane pretty well throughout the afternoon.
CB: Levi Colwill – 6/10 – Another solid outing for the Chelsea loanee.
LB: Pervis Estupinan – 6/10 – Had space and time early on. One of a number of players to struggle with the grass at the stadium.
CM: Pascal Gross – 6/10 – Kept things ticking over for Brighton with sharp passing triangles.
CM: Moises Caicedo – 7/10 – The most domineering player in midfield, mopping up loose balls and giving Hojbjerg nightmares. Just lost his cool at important moments.
RW: Solly March – 6/10 – Curled in the corner for Dunk to head in. Not many shooting opportunities.
AM: Alexis Mac Allister – 6/10 – Brought a good save from Lloris but faded a little bit as the game went on.
LW: Kaoru Mitoma – 6/10 – Had a goal disallowed for handball and a good penalty appeal waved away. Some close moments here and there but a disappointing afternoon.
ST: Danny Welbeck – 6/10 – Had a goal disallowed in the second half after it hit Mac Allister’s arm. Industrious and involved in Brighton’s build-up without end product.
Evan Ferguson (66′ for Welbeck) – 5/10
Adam Webster (69′ for Colwill) – 6/10
Julio Enciso (85′ for Veltman) – N/A
Roberto De Zerbi – 3/10 – Was looking for a scrap with Stellini early on and eventually got sent off for his role in the pitchside scuffle. Brighton were competitive throughout and some bad referee decisions didn’t help, but De Zerbi also needs to be a lot calmer.