Fernando Llorente scored a dramatic late winner as Tottenham Hotspur came from behind to beat Watford at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Trailing to Craig Cathcart’s first-half goal, Spurs worked tirelessly after the interval to find a way back into the game, levelling it up when Heung-Min Son marked his return to the side from international duty with just 10 minutes remaining.
But Spurs weren’t finished there, Llorente rising to the occasion as the spearhead of Spurs attack to head home in the 87th minute and complete the comeback against a tough Watford side.
Son was at the heart of most of Spurs good work in the early stages and went close on nine minutes, curling an effort just wide, before Christian Eriksen’s deflected shot six minutes later had goalkeeper Ben Foster scrambling across to his left to gather. It was fairly one-way traffic for much of the half and Spurs were almost in again on 26 minutes. Llorente produced some superb hold up play from Eriksen’s ball down the right flank, then cut inside and pinged a cross-field pass for Jan Vertonghen bursting forwards but Foster just got there first.
Watford’s first shot in anger came a few minutes later, Gerard Deulofeu’s effort from 20 yards going just a foot wide of the post. Despite barely having a sight of goal in the opening period, Watford took the lead seven minutes before the break. Roberto Pereyra sent a corner in to the edge of the six-yard box, Cathcart jumped with Davinson Sanchez and got the crucial touch to send the ball bouncing over the line with Hugo Lloris stranded and Spurs went in behind at the break.
Spurs made a change at half-time with Lucas replacing Serge Aurier and there was an urgency to their play as they went in search of the equalizer. It should have arrived on 52 minutes when Moussa Sissoko’s dangerous cross was poked goalwards by Llorente, Foster saving his effort, but the Spaniard was alive to the rebound and had the goal gaping in front of him, but unfortunately could only knee the loose ball over the bar. The pressure continued to mount and Foster was there again on 63 minutes, making a smart save with his feet from Eriksen’s low free-kick out on the left and, when Toby Alderwerield clipped the ball back into the danger zone, Llorente headed wide.
Substitute Ben Wilmot then cleared Danny Rose’s low drive off the line while at the other end, Troy Deeney fired into the side-netting on a rare Watford attack. Harry Winks almost caught Foster out with a mis-hit cross from 40 yards out that the keeper had to push over the bar, but the Hornets threatened again, Isaac Success firing wide from just inside the area.
Eventually the equalizer arrived, with just 10 minutes remaining. Lucas played the ball into the area for Llorente, who cut inside the defender with the ball running kindly for Son, who smashed home from 15 yards out. That changed the whole momentum of the match and Spurs were now really ramping up the intensity, although Watford changed their approach as well and were pushing and pressing far more than they had done for most of the second half.
But there was little they could do in the 87th minute when Rose picked the ball up wide on the left and clipped over a cross to the back post which Llorente met, heading back across goal and into the far corner of Foster’s goal. Cue wild celebrations from the player, his team-mates and all the home fans inside Wembley Stadium. The final stages were seen out with a minimum of fuss and Spurs collected what could be three huge points in a week in which Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United all dropped points.
In a game in which Spurs didn’t really create too many chances, the winning goal was such a welcome relief when it came and the defining moment of the match for them.
It hadn’t really been Llorente’s day, missing from close range when he should have scored, but he was there when it mattered, doing what he does best to meet Rose’s cross and head home a crucial winner!
Goals: Spurs – Son 80, Llorente 87; Watford – Cathcart 38.
Yellow cards: Watford – Capoue, Holebas, Success.
Referee: Graham Scott.