EPL

Son Heung-min nets crucial late winner for Tottenham against Luton

By Sports Desk March 30, 2024

Son Heung-min’s 86th-minute winner helped Tottenham get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track with a 2-1 home victory over Luton.

Luton made the perfect start in north London when Tahith Chong rifled them ahead after three minutes and Rob Edwards’ side threatened to come away with a rare win when Spurs went another first half without a goal.

While Tottenham have now failed to score during the first 45 of seven home games in a row, Ange Postecoglou’s team produced another second-half rally thanks to substitute Brennan Johnson.

Johnson set up Issa Kabore’s 51st-minute own goal and teed up Son four minutes from time to help the hosts bounce back from their Fulham humbling two weeks ago with a much-needed victory.

Luton arrived in the capital buoyed by the fact they moved out of the relegation zone during the international break following Nottingham Forest’s points deduction and they started with a bang.

Only three minutes were on the clock when the visitors broke at pace down the right and after Andros Townsend burst past Yves Bissouma too easily he recycled the ball to Ross Barkley, who teed up Chong for the opener.

Chong’s low finish in off the post was his fifth goal of the season and represented more frustration for Spurs but they should have levelled after 15 minutes.

Dejan Kulusevski’s excellent crossfield pass released Timo Werner, who turned Kabore inside out before he scuffed wide with only Thomas Kaminski to beat.

Five minutes later and Tottenham went close again with captain Son remarkably hitting both posts.

Kulusevski played in Son, who rounded Kaminski but saw his shot hit both uprights after it rolled across the goalline before Pape Sarr’s follow-up strike was cleared off the line by Teden Mengi.

The Hatters were able to impressively regroup and finished the half strongly with Alfie Doughty’s goalbound volley blocked by Pedro Porro.

Boos greeted the half-time whistle and Postecoglou reacted with Johnson introduced for Kulusevski, which had the desired impact.

Not long after Guglielmo Vicario had denied Ross Barkley’s long-range effort, Spurs attacked down the right and Johnson followed up a one-two with Porro with a superb delivery to the back post that Kabore fired into his own net.

Tottenham were in the mood now with Son denied by Kaminski before the Luton goalkeeper clawed away Porro’s deflected cross.

Edwards’ side remained a threat from set-pieces and Vicario had to be alert to thwart a low effort by substitute Jordan Clark before the hosts made a double change with Rodrigo Bentancur and Giovani Lo Celso introduced.

It nearly paid dividends immediately with Werner able to find Lo Celso, who picked out Johnson but his close-range effort was blocked by Kaminski and Doughty cleared with the ball a matter of millimetres away from crossing the goalline.

Spurs would not be denied though and Son grabbed the winner with four minutes left.

A slick counter-attack from Luton’s corner saw Werner race down the left and his cross found Johnson, who teed up Son to score via a deflection for his 15th goal of the season.

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    Daniel Farke admitted the killer instinct of Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics was lacking from his Leeds side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat dealt a blow to their automatic promotion hopes.

    Leeds dominated the Championship encounter at Elland Road but could not turn possession into goals.

    Farke’s side remain third in the table when a win would have seen them seize the initiative from top two Leicester and Ipswich.

    Farke said: “When you face a side like Blackburn with a player like Szmodics, he showed the quality which we didn’t show today and he needed just one chance to score.

    “So many balls went through the box, but you also need to show the quality to put the ball in the net.

    “If you don’t score you have so much more risk. There is also a danger there will be one moment for your opponent and they can score. It’s pretty disappointing and frustrating for us.

    “We didn’t put the ball into the net. If you don’t score, you can’t win the game.”

    Despite his players missing the chance to steal a march on their rivals, Farke refused to put the blame on them.

    He said: “It’s up to me if we don’t score – to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances.

    “It’s up to us in training to work on our efficiency and create more chances. Today we have created more than enough chances to score. I’m not the guy to point the finger at the players when we don’t score.

    “If a team fights to survive and fights against relegation, if they try to annoy us with time wasting and whatever, it’s nothing that I can influence.”

    Szmodics dealt the killer blow with a cool finish eight minutes from time as the visitors went route one.

    Sam Gallagher headed on a long ball from Aynsley Pears before Tyrhys Dolan turned and fed Szmodics and he did the rest with a composed finish past Illan Meslier.

    The Leeds goalkeeper had saved from Szmodics with Blackburn’s only effort of the first period, while Pears had saved from Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts as the home side failed to make their dominance pay.

    Blackburn head coach John Eustace was full of praise for his side.

    He said: “I was very proud of the effort the boys have given me since I came in, it has been outstanding.

    “To come here and play like we did was great. We had a game plan without the ball. I am delighted with the effort and very proud of them.”

    Blackburn bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at Bristol City in midweek and that resilience was what pleased Eustace the most.

    He added: “Wednesday was a bit of a blip. That certainly wasn’t a team that I have been a part of. We have been very difficult to beat.

    “It’s very important that we keep working hard, sticking together. We have three games left and we still need points.”

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  • Sammie Szmodics nets late Blackburn winner as Leeds suffer blow in promotion bid Sammie Szmodics nets late Blackburn winner as Leeds suffer blow in promotion bid

    Sammie Szmodics dealt a crushing blow to Leeds’ automatic promotion hopes as Blackburn claimed a late 1-0 Championship win at Elland Road.

    Defeat stopped the home side going top of the table as Rovers defended for long periods of the game.

    Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts all tested Blackburn goalkeeper Aynsley Pears in a dominant first half for Leeds.

    The home side also had chances after the break but were punished by Szmodics with eight minutes to go.

    Leeds were on the front foot from the off as Joel Piroe’s shot was deflected for a corner.

    Hayden Carter tripped Summerville and his free-kick from a narrow angle was saved by Pears, who also punched away the follow-up shot from Gnonto from the edge of the area.

    The game was being played mostly in Blackburn’s half and Leeds forced two corners in succession with 20 minutes gone – but they were unable to break the deadlock.

    Ethan Ampadu headed a Roberts free-kick off target as Leeds kept up the pressure with nearly half-an-hour on the clock.

    Ilia Gruev missed the best chance so far but his near-post shot from Gnonto’s low ball following a corner did not trouble Pears.

    Roberts was the next to test the Rovers stopper with a curling shot from outside the area which he saved high to his left at the expense of a corner.

    Szmodics forced Illan Meslier into action for the first time from a Blackburn breakaway with the goalkeeper diving low to his left to keep out the shot, five minutes before the break.

    Gruev fired at Pears with the first effort of the second half after Joe Rodon’s vital interception and surging run.

    Gnonto shot wide across the face of goal but with nearly an hour gone, Leeds were still looking for the opening goal.

    Meslier put his side under pressure when his throw went to a Blackburn player but luckily for him when the ball was passed to Joe Rankin-Costello, he fired wide.

    Blackburn sensed a chance and Szmodics crossed low from the right but he could not find a team-mate with the Leeds goal gaping, with Roberts stretching to stop Tyrhys Dolan getting a touch.

    Georginio Rutter’s shot into a crowded area saw Pears dive low to his left then claim the loose ball.

    A cross from Gnonto spun onto the post and then the winger just failed to get a touch to a Dan James cross.

    Substitute Patrick Bamford headed over as Leeds cranked up the pressure and they were made to pay when Szmodics struck the decisive blow, eight minutes from time.

    Sam Gallagher nodded on Pears’ kick, Dolan turned and released his team-mate and Szmodics finished coolly past Meslier.

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