Tottenham Hotspur 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers (December 2018)

Goalscorers: Harry Kane 22, Wily Boly 72, Raul Jimenez 83, Helder Costa 87

Teams:

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies, Kieran Trippier, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, Dele Alli (Lucas Moura 68), Christian Eriksen, Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Ryan Bennett, Willy Boly, Conor Coady, Matt Doherty, Jonny, Leander Dendoncker (Joao Moutinho 68), Ruben Neves, Adama Traore (Helder Costa 59), Ivan Cavaleiro (Morgan Gibbs-White 85), Raul Jimenez

Referee: Stuart Attwell, Attendance: 46,356

Confidence was sky-high at Tottenham Hotspur as 2018 came to an end. They’d scored 11 goals in their last two Premier League matches, beating Everton 6-2 and AFC Bournemouth 5-0 in stunning attacking displays. Having overtaken Manchester City to become Liverpool FC’s closest challengers, there was genuine belief Mauricio Pochettino’s side could launch a serious title challenge.

Their final game of the calendar year was against a Wolverhampton Wanderers side who had developed a liking for playing the top teams. Wolves had already beaten Chelsea and drawn with Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. They were about to leave Wembley Stadium stunned into disbelief with an incredible second half performance.

As anticipated, it was Spurs who did a lot of the early pressing as they chased a fifth successive league victory. Rui Patricio had to be at his best to tip over a Christian Eriksen goal-bound shot, whilst an in-form Heung-Min Son fired an attempt a fraction wide of the post. However, Harry Kane was about to end another wonderful personal year in-style, giving his team a 22nd minute lead.

Earlier in the morning, Kane had been given an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. He marked the occasion with another delightful goal. He cut inside and from at least 25-yards out, curled a fantastic strike into the back of the net, with Patricio well-beaten. It was another fantastic strike to add to his repertoire, crowing a year which had seen Kane win the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup finals and finish third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

It was a blow for Wolves but they hung on in the contest and then, produced their deadly response in the last 20 minutes. First, central defender Willy Boly leapt highest to meet a corner from substitute Joao Moutinho. His header had enough power to beat Hugo Lloris, despite the Frenchman getting a palm from his glove onto the attempt.

Wolves’ pressure had told and they were finishing the stronger team. With seven minutes remaining, they snatched the lead. Raul Jimenez squeezed a shot in-between Toby Alderweireld’s legs and Lloris couldn’t get down in-time to prevent the Mexican’s precise strike finding the bottom corner.

As Tottenham pushed more men forward, they were punished on the counter-attack. Helder Costa stroked home a third goal with three minutes to go, ensuring there was no way back for the Lilywhites.

It was Tottenham’s fifth league defeat of the season as their title tilt took a real blow here. Wolves would continue to perform well against the elite clubs for the remainder of the 2018-2019 season.

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