Tottenham defence implodes, forwards run out of ideas vs. Wolves
Tottenham's winning run was ended and their Premier League title challenge dented as they threw away a half-time lead to lose 3-1 to Wolves at Wembley.
Spurs had won their previous four matches in all competitions -- triumphing 6-2 and 5-0 in the most recent two -- and it looked as if that run would continue when they took the lead through Harry Kane, who broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute with a sensational 25-yard strike.
However, Mauricio Pochettino's men were unable to hold their advantage, and a jaded second-half display was punished in the final 20 minutes as Willy Boly, Raul Jimenez and Helder Costa all scored for the away side.
Kane's strike was glorious, but otherwise there was little to cheer for Spurs' fans.
With leaders Liverpool facing Arsenal and Manchester City in their next two matches, there was an opportunity for Tottenham to increase the pressure against Wolves today and Cardiff on New Year's Day, so this slip-up has come at an unfortunate time.
Pochettino has picked the likes of Kane, Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen and Moussa Sissoko throughout the festive period, and they seemed to run out of energy. The worry is that reliance on a select group of players will continue to undermine Spurs' efforts during the second half of the season.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Pochettino has been hampered by injuries, especially in central midfield, and few would have complained about his team selection when it was announced, nor when Kane made it 1-0, but the warning signs were clear before Wolves equalised.
Pochettino seemed powerless to prevent what followed and only made one substitution. Granted, his only attacking options in reserve were Lucas Moura, whom he did introduce, and the out-of-favour Georges-Kevin Nkoduou.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Hugo Lloris, 5 -- Wolves only had four shots on target and three of them beat the French international.
DF Kieran Trippier, 4 -- He won two important headers as Ivan Cavaleiro attacked crosses from Adama Traore, but offered little going forward and repeatedly gave the ball away to aid Wolves' comeback; one loose pass resulted in the visitors' third goal.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 7 -- He played quite well, having made a shaky return from injury at Everton, and won an important tackle when Cavaleiro got in behind the defence. Sanchez cannot really be blamed for Wolves' goals.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 6 -- Could not keep Wolves out as the pressure increased; Jimenez shot between his legs to score the visitors' second goal.
DF Ben Davies, 5 -- Had a shaky start, surviving a handball appeal and getting booked for a late tackle on Matt Doherty, while Adama Traore got outside him a few times. Davies' lack of pace was also an issue at the other end of the pitch and he never even tried to beat Doherty.
MF Harry Winks, 5 -- Dictated play in the first half but lost his influence in the second period and Costa got in behind him to score Wolves' third goal.
MF Moussa Sissoko, 5 -- Looked tired, which is understandable given this was his seventh successive start. An early bang on the leg would not have helped either.
MF Christian Eriksen, 5 -- Helped Spurs to dominate possession in the first half and hit the bar from 25 yards but disappeared after the interval.
MF Dele Alli, 5 -- Tackled back diligently but struggled to make an impact on the ball and his decision-making was questionable. Withdrawn in the 68th minute.
MF Son Heung-Min, 6 -- Posed a threat in the first half, particularly when his 25-yard strike fizzed past the angle of post and crossbar, but a peripheral figure in the second half.
FW Harry Kane, 7 -- Gave his side the breakthrough with an individual moment of magic, finding the top corner from 25 yards with his weaker left foot, but that was the only real highlight and he was later booked for diving.
MF Lucas Moura, 5 -- Replaced Alli but offered little.