EPL

The pain of football – Ange Postecoglou says Spurs need to accept Wolves loss

By Sports Desk November 11, 2023

Ange Postecoglou insists Tottenham must accept the pain of defeat after Wolves’ stunning late show.

Pablo Sarabia and Mario Lemina scored in stoppage time to cap an astonishing finish, seal a 2-1 win and deny Spurs top spot in the Premier League.

Brennan Johnson’s first Tottenham goal had given them an early lead and they were set to move two points clear at the summit despite riding their luck for much of the game.

But, instead, Spurs have suffered successive defeats following Monday’s 4-1 loss to Chelsea.

Postecoglou said: “It’s part of the pain of football when things happen in those circumstances. You’ve just got to take it. I can’t fault the players’ effort or their commitment. It was always going to be a tough game.

“We started well but we could have been a little bit more positive and aggressive with the ball. I’ve got to temper that with the fact we have had so many changes and we’re not going to get the same, especially when three of your back four are almost starting for the first time.

“We’ve had a particularly settled line-up. You could see they were feeling it towards the end. For the most part Wolves didn’t have many big chances but at the end they scored. Wolves were able to lift themselves, particularly with the crowd behind them.

“The character and commitment was there, don’t dismiss that. The guys have played their first game of the year and you are changing three of the back four so it’s fairly disruptive. There are plenty of positives to take.”

Johnson gave Spurs, without injured pair James Maddison and Micky van de Ven until January, a third-minute lead when he turned in Pedro Porro’s cross from close range but, from then, Wolves took control.

Their tenacity and determination left Tottenham struggling but the hosts’ final ball let them down.

It took until nine minutes into the second half for a clear chance but, when it came, Hwang Hee-Chan scuffed wide with just Guglielmo Vicario to beat.

Tottenham looked like they would hang on, even going close to a second when Jose Sa turned Giovani Lo Celso’s shot over, before Wolves finally found the breakthrough.

Substitute Sarabia, on the pitch for just two minutes, levelled when he collected Matheus Cunha’s neat pass and smashed a volley past Vicario.

It was a deserved leveller but Wolves wanted more and got it in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Tommy Doyle’s quick free-kick sent Sarabia away and he picked out Lemina, running from deep, to poke the ball into the bottom corner.

Boss Gary O’Neil said: “It was the most proud I have been of a group I have coached, to produce what they produced against a top side.

“I would have been very proud of the group even if the game had finished 1-0 to Tottenham. I spoke to the boys at half-time, that the scoreline was irrelevant. We were the better side, don’t let the scoreline dictate how you feel.

“I try to make the team resemble me but I was never good enough to produce a performance like that.

“To be 12 weeks in, we’re ahead of where we expected to be. There was a lot of noise around the place about how much of a struggle it might be but we’ve beaten Man City and Spurs, the top two, early on in the transition. We’re ahead of the curve.”

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