Tottenham ended a run of three straight defeats by scoring in each half and holding on for a 2-1 victory at Brighton.
Spurs dominated possession in heavy rain in East Sussex and Harry Kane broke the deadlock in a first half of few chances, drilling in a penalty after a Glenn Murray handball.
The visitors ensured there would be no repeat of their Champions League collapse at Inter Milan in midweek when substitute Erik Lamela scored their second, sweeping in a Danny Rose cross from 12 yards.
Anthony Knockaert pulled one back in stoppage time but Brighton were unable to salvage a third straight Premier League draw.
Low-risk strategy pays off for Spurs
Given the conditions and their recent form, it was hardly surprising to see Spurs gain early control of the game and play with a low-risk strategy.
At half-time they had enjoyed 78.6% possession with a passing accuracy of 92.4% – although few of those passes were telling balls into the final third.
While that led to a half as drab as the weather, Spurs were comfortable before the break without looking like they would carve open the hosts’ defence.
Kane’s penalty was one of only two shots on target in the first half. The other was from a Kieran Trippier corner, when Toby Alderweireld’s near-post header was deflected and keeper Mat Ryan saved acrobatically to his left.
The game opened up after the interval, with Brighton enjoying a brief spell of pressure, but Spurs continued to monopolise possession.
Lamela spread the play to the recalled Lucas Moura, who found Rose down the left before Lamela got on the end of a low cross to ease any Tottenham nerves.
Spurs have shown they can play more expansively than this, but after league defeats by Watford and Liverpool, boss Mauricio Pochettino will be happy to leave that for another day.
Misery for Murray and Brighton
Although Brighton have tended to take the game to the opposition this season, they were starved of possession early on and lost Dale Stephens, arguably their most accomplished ball player, to injury on 21 minutes.
While the pace of Knockaert out wide provided some encouragement, his delivery was wayward and Murray’s error handed Spurs the chance to go in front.
Boos rang around the Amex Stadium at half-time but Brighton can have few complaints about the penalty decision.
Murray’s arm was raised and was not protecting his face, but was stretched to his right. It was also unnecessary because Davy Propper, the man next to Murray in the wall, was bracing himself to block Trippier’s shot with his head.
With Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm both injured for Spurs, Albion ought to have tested the inexperienced third-choice goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga more.
Brighton won their second corner on 63 minutes, which was cleared as far as Solly March, whose shot deflected just over the crossbar, while Shane Duffy had a goal disallowed for offside.
But Brighton’s best chance of an equaliser came and went as Beram Kayal found Knockaert, who cut inside the returning Alderweireld only to hit a tame effort too close to Gazzaniga.
And although Knockaert did score from a late break after being released by Duffy’s long ball, he and his Brighton team-mates will have to produce better finishing than his even later effort – again easy for Gazzaniga – if the Seagulls are to take points off the Champions League teams on a regular basis.
Man of the match – Danny Rose (Tottenham)
Kane goes level with Defoe – the stats
- Harry Kane netted his 143rd goal for Tottenham in all competitions, drawing level with Jermain Defoe as the club’s joint-fifth top scorer.
- Spurs have only failed to score in one of their last 17 Premier League away games (0-1 v West Brom in May).
- Brighton have only won one of their last 10 games against Tottenham in all competitions (drawn two, lost seven) – that win was a home victory in April 1983.
- Brighton suffered a home league defeat for the first time since March (0-2 v Leicester).
- Anthony Knockaert has been directly involved in four goals in his last five Premier League games (one goal, three assists), as many as he managed in his previous 43 games in the competition.
Brighton travel to Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday, 29 September (15:00 BST), while Tottenham host Watford in the EFL Cup on Wednesday (20:00) before visiting Huddersfield in the league on Saturday (15:00).