Gareth Bale scored his first goal since returning to Tottenham as Jose Mourinho's side bounced back from their Europa League disappointment with a 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Spurs suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp on Thursday and Mourinho demonstrated his dissatisfaction with that result by making nine changes for the visit of Graham Potter's side, with Bale demoted to the substitutes' bench and Dele Alli dropped from the squad altogether.
Mourinho's new-look starting XI went ahead with a 13th-minute penalty from Harry Kane before Tariq Lamptey's first senior goal pulled Brighton level shortly before the hour mark.
Bale came off the bench to head home in the 73rd minute, though, to help Tottenham move up to second place, two points behind leaders Liverpool. The Seagulls, meanwhile, remain in 16th having won just once so far this season.
7y 166d – Gareth Bale has scored his first Tottenham goal in 7 years & 166 days, last doing so on his farewell appearance for the club vs Sunderland back in May 2013. He scored exactly 200 seconds after entering the pitch. Yardage. pic.twitter.com/IJxGooyUgI— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 1, 2020
Tottenham were rewarded for a bright start with their early spot-kick after a VAR review determined Adam Lallana's clumsy jump into the back of Kane had taken place just inside the penalty area.
Kane kept his focus to slam home his 149th Premier League goal for the club.
Brighton responded well to that early setback but struggled to break down Tottenham's defence, Potter's side ultimately ending the first half without a shot on target.
The Seagulls pulled level shortly before the hour mark when Lamptey slotted into Hugo Lloris' bottom-right corner from 10 yards, the goal eventually given after referee Graham Scott had undertaken a lengthy pitchside video review to assess if there had been a foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the build-up.
Erik Lamela then struck the right-hand post with a low drive from distance before Kane hit the opposite upright after a corner had fallen kindly to him.
Those misses were soon forgotten about when Bale scored his first Premier League goal since May 2013, just three minutes after being introduced for Lamela.
The Wales international found space in the area to meet his former Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Reguilon's cross from the left with a thumping header from eight yards to seal all three points for his side.
What does it mean? Spurs just do enough against spirited Seagulls
It was not always pretty against a determined Brighton outfit, who enjoyed 56.3 per cent of possession, but securing a return to winning ways after their dismal Europa League showing in midweek is what will concern Mourinho the most.
Tottenham have now lost just one of their last 13 Premier League games and with Bale back amongst the goals, the Portuguese might just allow himself to start thinking about a title tilt.
Hojbjerg dominates the midfield battle
Bale gets the headlines but Hojbjerg's contribution in midfield cannot be overlooked. The former Southampton man completed more successful passes than any of his team-mates (50) and gained possession eight times - a joint team-high with Moussa Sissoko.
Sluggish showing from Ndombele
There have been signs this season that Tanguy Ndombele is adapting to life in the Premier League, but this performance was reminiscent of last term's underwhelming displays. The 23-year-old completed just 16 successful passes and lost possession on 11 occasions before he was replaced by Giovani Lo Celso in the 64th minute.
Key Opta stats
- Tottenham, with 14 points from seven games, sit second in the Premier League table for the first time since February 2019 under Mauricio Pochettino.
- Thanks to his opener, Tottenham's Kane has moved into the top 10 all-time Premier League goals list, notching his 149th strike to move level with Les Ferdinand.
- Only the current bottom three sides (Sheffield United, Fulham, Burnley) have lost more games in the Premier League this season than Brighton (4), whilst only league leaders Liverpool (15) have shipped more goals than the Seagulls (14).
- Of the 12 players to have taken at least 25 Premier League spot-kicks, only Matt Le Tissier (96 per cent) and Thierry Henry (92 per cent) have a higher penalty conversion rate than Spurs striker Kane (88 per cent, 22/25).
- Pascal Gross, who set up Lamptey for the equaliser, has now assisted 16 Premier League goals for Brighton, double that of any other player at the club.