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Spurs v Nottingham Forest, 07.04.24

Thanks again to Declan Mulcahy for his excellent report:-

Sunday 7 April 2024, 6:00pm
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur (1) 3 Nottingham Forest (1) 1

Spurs scorers:-
Murillo, 15 (o.g.)
Van de Ven, 52
Porro, 58

Forest scorer:-
Wood 27

Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1):
13 G Vicario; 23 Pedro Porro, 17 C Romero, 37 M van de Ven, 38 D Udogie; 8 Y Bissouma (5 P-E Hojbjerg 45), 29 P Sarr (30 R Bentancur 45); 22 B Johnson (44 D Scarlett 89), 10 J Maddison (21 D Kulusevski 76), 16 T Werner (18 G Lo Celso 76); 7 H-M Son (c)

Subs not used: 40 B Austin, 12 Emerson Royal, 33 B Davies, 6 R Dragusin

Booked: Werner (25 foul on Elanga), Bentancur (60 foul on Gibbs-White)

Nottingham Forest (4-2-3-1): Nuno Espirito Santo
26 M Sels; 7 N Williams (29 G Montiel 87), 32 A Omobamidele, 40 Murillo, 43 O Aina; 22 R Yates (c) (6 I Sangare 81), 28 Danilo (20 G Reyna 81); 21A Elanga, 10 M Gibbs-White (16 N Dominguez 68), 14 C Hudson-Odoi; 11 C Wood (27 D Origi 68)

Subs not used: 1 M Turner, 15 H Toffolo, 19 M Niakhate, 37 R Ribeiro

Booked: Yates (14 foul on Maddison), Gibbs-White (56 foul on Bentancur), Williams (71 foul on Werner), Danilo (78 foul on Lo Celso)
Captains armband Yates to Williams to ???

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Attendance: 61,098

Referee:- Simon Hooper Assistants:- Adrian Holmes, Simon Long Fourth official:- Thomas Bramall VAR:- Michael Salisbury Assistant VAR:- James Mainwaring.

Spurs down Forest to regain fourth position

Spurs v Nottingham Forest, 07.04.24

A 3-1 win for Spurs at home to Nottingham Forest today, combined with Aston Villa's home draw yesterday against Brentford, means that Spurs are in fourth position in the league table. Both teams have 60 points but Spurs have the better goal difference. Spurs dominated for the first quarter and the second half. Forest did well during the latter part of the first half and could have gone in 2-1 ahead at the interval.

The game was originally scheduled for Monday evening but rearranged for a late kick-off on Sunday because of an expected train strike on Monday. The game was still in doubt on Sunday as local police started a murder investigation for a stabbing near the stadium twelve hours before kick-off. However it was later cleared to take place.

Spurs made one change to the team which started against West Ham United on Tuesday with Sarr replacing Bentancur. Richarlison was injured and Scarlett took his place on the substitutes bench.

Nuno Espirito Santo returned to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since his brief tenure as Spurs manager between July and October 2021. He fielded an unchanged side from the one which beat Fulham 3-1 at home on Tuesday.

Spurs dominated the opening minutes without creating any clear openings. The best opportunity of the initial exchanges fell to Forest after ten minutes. The Forest centre-back Murillo had possession in his own half and noticed that Vicario was maintaining a high line well off his goal line and he tried to lob him. Vicario had to back-pedal and the ball went just wide of the left post.

Ryan Yates, the local-born Forest captain, was keeping a close watch on James Maddison. By the 13th minute he had committed three fouls on Maddison and referee Simon Hooper had had enough and produced a yellow card.

Son set Timo Werner on the left. He sent a dangerous corner into the box where it was deflected into his own net by Murillo. It was the fifth own goal that Spurs have benefitted from during the current Premier League season (the most of any team) and the second in nine days following the one against Luton. There were similarities in that both involved a defender under pressure from a cross diverting the ball into his own goal.

Bissouma, unusually, had three efforts early in the game only one of which troubled the goalkeeper. Werner was a constant threat on the left and set up Johnson whose shot was well-saved by Sels.

Forest started to have more possession. Elanga on the right crossed and Wood equalised with a shot. Van de Ven could perhaps have stopped Elanga and Porro could have done better when confronting Wood before he shot. For the second consecutive game Spurs had opened the scoring in the first half only to be pegged back by their opponents.

The next good opportunity fell to Forest. Aina crossed from the left and Yates hit a shot which brought a diving save from Vicario. The ball rebounded out to Wood on the right. He should have scored as Vicario was still on the ground and the goal was open. However he could only hit the post. Forest supporters will no doubt speculate on what might have been.

Forest had another couple of chances before the half ended. Elanga made a good run but Vicario saved his shot. Gibbs-White set up Elanga and his high cross was tipped over the bar by Vicario.

There was an odd incident shortly before the break. Maddison and Yates had a coming together near the Forest box. Maddison did push Yates but not violently. Yates went down and milked it for all it was worth probably being resentful for the earlier booking. VAR reviewed the incident and correctly decided that no action was required.

Postecoglou responding to Forest's domination in the latter part of the first half replaced both Sarr and Bissouma at half time by Bentancur and Hojbjerg. The changes had a positive effect.

Hojbjerg had an early effort which was saved by Sels. Werner crossed from the left but Bentancur couldn't capitalise on what was a difficult chance. Then van de Ven came forward in an attack. Son set him up on the edge of the box and he scored with a thunderbolt of a shot to the top left corner.

Six minutes later Maddison crossed from the left, Bentancur headed on for Porro to score with another spectacular shot again to the top left corner. On a day when Joe Kinnear died, too late in the day for Spurs to commemorate the event, it seemed appropriate that one of his successors at right back should open his Premier League account for the season with a stunning goal. It was his 42nd shot of the season which is impressive for a full-back.

Spurs had established a winning lead and weren't too troubled for the last 30 minutes.

Gibbs-White and Bentancur had tit-for-tat bookings when each of them fouled the other within a four-minute period. Maddison had a shot which went wide. Hojbjerg slipped which trying to shoot and Sels saved the effort.

With fourteen minutes remaining Kulusevski and Lo Celso replaced Maddison and Werner. Johnson set up Son but Sels palmed his shot onto the post. Hojbjerg made a couple of his trademark misplaced passes to the opposition near the Spurs box but neither troubled Spurs.

Scarlett replaced Johnson with a minute left and both sets of supporters sportingly applauded him off the pitch.

In the end it was a comfortable win which allowed Spurs to overtake Aston Villa in the league table. On paper Spurs position looks stronger as they have a game in hand and a slightly better goal difference. However a closer examination reveals that this may not be the case. Spurs still have to play the three top teams, two at home, one away. Villa have to play two of them one home and one away so that may somewhat offset Spurs game in hand. Both have two winnable games remaining. Each team has two other games Spurs: Newcastle and Chelsea both away; Villa: Chelsea home and Brighton away. It could be that whichever team takes to most points from those two respective games will finish ahead.

It probably won't be decided until after the final set of matches. Both teams can console themselves with the possibility that fifth may well qualify for the Champions League and that on present form they should both finish in the top five.

Postecoglou told Sky Sports on half-time subs: "It wasn't about being happy, we just needed some energy. Three games in a week, I have a luxury now of having a squad, which I didn't have for a big part of the year so why not utilise them? We've got a tough run-in, we're going to need the whole squad so it's good to have that available."

Espirito Santo rather controversially suggested "For me, it's clear. There are two moments in the first half we can speak about. That situation, I think it's a red card. I think Maddison loses his composure and he reacts. I'm surprised VAR didn't saw it and I'm surprised Simon [Hooper] pretended like nothing happened. Then the clear chance we had with Chris in the first half that went onto the post. That could change the game."

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