Jan Vertonghen lashed home a second-half winner as Tottenham
beat Swansea 1-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to move back into
the Champions League positions.
The Belgium center back latched onto a right-wing free kick from
Kyle Walker that evaded a number of visiting defenders and sent a
low shot into the corner in the 75th minute, breaking Swansea’s
stubborn resistance which threatened to frustrate Spurs at White
The victory lifted Andre Villas-Boas’ side above Everton into
fourth position – where Tottenham finished last season – and level
on points with third-place Chelsea.
”The Premier League from third to 10th is so tight,” said
Villas-Boas, remarking on a situation where six points separates
Chelsea from 10th-place Swansea. ”For us, it’s important to break
out from the pack and join the top two (of Manchester United and
There was controversy in stoppage time when Spurs goalkeeper
Hugo Lloris came out to punch away a high ball into the box but
also contrived to knock Michu to the ground as the Swansea forward
went up to challenge.
With Michu worryingly lying prone on the ground, Tottenham
played on and even made its way into the Swansea penalty area
through substitute Andros Townsend – much to the disgust of
visiting defender Chico Flores, who became engaged in a heated
confrontation with Townsend and Walker.
”I was very angry. When you see the way he went down … I
still remember (Patrick) Battiston,” and Swansea coach Michael
Laudrup said, referring to an incident in the 1982 World Cup
semifinals when the France defender was knocked unconscious after
colliding with Germany goalkeeper Harold Schumacher. ”When you
have a possibility of a head injury, you have to stop.
”It’s such a poor decision (by the referee to play on). I would
like an explanation.”
Michu, the league’s joint top scorer, eventually got to his feet
gingerly. The incident also revived memories of the on-field
collapse on the same ground of Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a
cardiac arrest and later had to retire from football.
The negative for Tottenham was the sight of Emmanuel Adebayor
hobbling off five minutes before Vertonghen’s first league goal,
with what Villas-Boas said was a mixture of an ankle injury and
hamstring problem. On the plus side, Scott Parker came on as a
stoppage-time substitute for his first appearance this season,
having been out since the European Championship in the summer with
an Achilles injury.
With Ashley Williams and Flores playing solidly at center back
for Swansea, Tottenham struggled to trouble goalkeeper Gerhard
Tremmel, who was only seriously called in to action in the first
half in saving Walker’s fierce 30-yard shot with his left
Jermain Defoe was left frustrated by seeing a number of
goal-bound shots blocked, but wasted a great chance when one on one
with Tremmel late on – just before the Michu incident.
That opened the possibility of Spurs conceding a late goal –
something they have made a habit of this season, costing the team
valuable points – but they held on.
”We have suffered goals in the last few minutes this season. We
have addressed this as a group in training,” said Villas-Boas,
revealing that he has increased the ”complexity” of training late
in practice sessions to keep his defenders on their toes. ”The
players are conscious of this.”
Swansea could have gone above Tottenham with victory but Nathan
Dyer wasted the Welsh team’s best chance – with the score at 0-0 –
when he failed to get any power behind a header soon after the