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Player ratings as 10-man Spurs hold on at City Ground


Tottenham Hotspur piled the pressure on Steve Cooper with a 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest on Friday night.

Spurs dominated possession but seldom had control of the match on a testing evening at the City Ground, with Ange Postecoglou’s men digging in deep to secure the three points.

Cooper’s Forest have now lost five of their last six and are slowly sliding towards the relegation zone, sitting five points clear of the bottom three.

How the game unfolded

Tottenham went close to taking the lead just three minutes in when Dejan Kulusevski picked out the run of Son Heung-min in behind, but his close-range effort was denied by the leg of Matt Turner.

Forest were intent to sit in deep and hit Spurs on the counter, with Anthony Elanga first to test Guglielmo Vicario. The Italian stood tall to deny the Swede after round the visitors’ backline, and though a late offside flag went up, replays suggested Elanga may have timed his run to perfection.

Turner came to Forest’s rescue again when former teammate Brennan Johnson poked a shot towards goal, only for the American to get down and palm his improvised effort behind. From the resulting corner, Ben Davies headed narrowly over.

Spurs were under the cosh for much of the first half, but took the lead just before the break when Richarlison leapt high to nod in a perfectly whipped Kulusevski cross.

After the break, Forest threatened following a set piece as Elanga was able to turn and find Willy Boly free at the far side of the 18-yard box, but the defender lost his composure and fired over.

Just before the hour mark, Forest had the ball in the net. Neco Williams’ cross was diverted in from six yards by Elanga, but the goal was ruled out for offside after a VAR check.

Back down the other end, a last-ditch block from Orel Mangala ensured that Kulusevski couldn’t double Tottenham’s lead, while Son’s strike on the end of a low Pedro Porro cross was denied by Turner.

But Turner was unable to keep out Kulusevski’s powerful shot moments later after the American’s skewed clearance was intercepted by Spurs’ number 21, thundering in at the near post with his weaker right foot.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, Forest were handed a lifeline when Tottenham were reduced to ten men, with Yves Bissouma receiving his marching orders after a VAR check for a dangerous challenge.

Turner this time got a strong hand behind a Kulusevski drive towards the near post as the game opened up in the late stages.

Vicario made an unbelievable save with his left leg to keep out a towering Harry Toffolo header as Forest threw everything at Spurs in search of a goal of their own.

Another heroic Forest block – this time from Murillo – ensured Tottenham didn’t move out of sight when Porro fired at goal.

Forest’s final chance saw Williams lash an effort off the post and out off the helpless Vicario as Spurs held on to take the points.

Matt Turner

Turner had a questionable evening / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

GK: Matt Turner – 3/10 – Tottenham’s lead became unassailable when Turner flapped at Kulusevski’s strike midway through the second half, giving the ball away seconds earlier.

CB: Willy Boly – 5/10 – Defended well for the most part but was crucially beaten to Kulusevski’s cross by Richarlison just before the break.

CB: Murillo – 5/10 – Used his recovery pace well to blunt Tottenham’s pacy attack at times.

CB: Moussa Niakhate – 5/10 – A menace with his long throw-ins. Endured a fascinating battle with Porro.

RM: Neco Williams – 6/10 – Galloped up and down the pitch making tackles and trying to find a way through.

CM: Ryan Yates – 5/10 – Somehow spared a booking despite making four cynical fouls and asking for the referee to caution Sarr. Forest needed his energy to play the way they did.

CM: Orel Mangala – 6/10 – Swept up play a little more gracefully than his bullish teammates.

CM: Cheikhou Kouyate – 5/10 – Bundled about into challenges though was unable to get a proper foothold in the game.

LM: Harry Toffolo – 5/10 – Nearly came up with a goal at the death but was denied by the long legs of Vicario.

CF: Morgan Gibbs-White – 5/10 – Failed to use his talent to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

CF: Anthony Elanga – 5/10 – Likewise clearly had bundles of ability but couldn’t effectively use it.

Substitutes

SUB: Chris Wood (68′ for Boly) – 5/10

SUB: Danilo (68′ for Kouyate) – 5/10

SUB: Callum Hudson-Odoi (83′ for Mangala) – 5/10

Subs not used: Odisseas Vlachodimos (GK), Gonzalo Montiel, Andrew Omobamidele, Ola Aina, Nicolas Dominguez, Divock Origi

Manager

Steve Cooper – 5/10 – Forest’s players and supporters are still evidently behind Cooper, but they need to start producing results again.

Dejan Kulusevski

The man of the moment / James Baylis – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Guglielmo Vicario – 8/10 – Produced some stunning saves to preserve a clean sheet. £17m looking more and more of a bargain every week.

RB: Pedro Porro – 6/10 – Not as useful in attack this week but ensured that Elanga and Gibbs-White couldn’t get to the byline so easily.

CB: Cristian Romero – 7/10 – A much calmer performance from the Argentine this week. Silky smooth with the ball at his feet.

CB: Ben Davies – 8/10 – Tottenham are in dire need of a new centre-back, but Davies is quickly proving he still has a part to play moving forward.

LB: Destiny Udogie – 6/10 – Defended well and with confidence despite walking a tightrope on a yellow card for much of the game.

CM: Pape Matar Sarr – 6/10 – Nowhere near as elegant with the ball as last week but Spurs needed his work rate to get over the line.

CM: Yves Bissouma – 1/10 – Sloppy on the ball, lacked discipline off it. Put his teammates under immense pressure with another daft red card.

RM: Brennan Johnson – 6/10 – Withdrawn with a concussion during the first half. Gave Toffolo some problems with his pace prior to his substitution.

AM: Dejan Kulusevski – 9/10 – Stepping up in the absence of James Maddison. Deserving of his goal and stunning assist.

LM: Son Heung-min – 6/10 – Spurned a couple of decent openings but worked ever so hard for the cause.

CF: Richarlison – 8/10 – Another all-round display up front for the Brazilian number nine, scoring his third goal in the space of a week. Sacrificed for Hojbjerg after Bissouma’s red card.

Substitutes

CONCUSSION SUB: Oliver Skipp (32′ for Johnson) – 5/10 – Obviously not suited to playing as a number ten.

SUB: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (72′ for Richarlison) – 7/10

SUB: Emerson Royal (88′ for Son) – N/A

SUB: Alejo Veliz (90′ for Kulusevski) – N/A

Subs not used: Fraser Forster (GK), Alfie Dorrington, Eric Dier, Bryan Gil, Jamie Donley

Manager

Ange Postecoglou – 7/10 – Tottenham were uncomfortable for long periods of the game but rarely allowed Forest a clear sight at goal.

Player of the match – Dejan Kulusevski (Tottenham Hotspur)



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