Match report and highlights as Micky van de Ven's finish sends Tottenham top of the Premier League with 1-0 win at Luton; Yves Bissouma is sent off for second bookable offence following blatant dive; Tottenham have registered 20 points from their opening eight Premier League games
Saturday 7 October 2023 20:04, UK
Ange Postecoglou continued his scintillating start as Tottenham manager as Micky van de Ven's instinctive finish secured a narrow 1-0 win over Luton at Kenilworth Road.
Yves Bissouma was sent off in the first half following two bookable offences, the second of which was an appalling dive not missed by referee John Brooks, but Spurs held on - and have now collected six wins and two draws from eight league games under Postecoglou.
Victory against Everton last month broke Luton's winless run, but they were beaten 2-1 by Burnley on Tuesday, and they are lingering just above the relegation zone having now won only one of their eight Premier League matches, during which time they have scored just six goals.
The win for Spurs sends them to the top of the table at least until Sunday's game between Manchester City and Arsenal.
When asked about how Tottenham have surprised onlookers with their season start, Postecoglou said: "I don't like talking about the past as I feel it's unfair. I've said from day one, I like winning. I love it. I get the team to play the way I want and try to create an environment that breeds success.
"I've gone into this with an open mind, and the results have been there so far, but it doesn't change where I think we are in terms of our growth. I don't get driven by the results at this early stage. Everyone we recruited in the summer have had a big impact which has helped, but we have to keep getting that right."
Luton: Kaminski (7), Andersen (6), Lockyer (6), Burke (7), Doughty (6), Mpanzu (6), Nakamba (6), Brown (5), Ogbene (7), Adebayo (5), Morris (6).
Subs: Barkley (n/a), Berry (6), Woodrow (6), Chong (6), Mengi (6).
Tottenham: Vicario (6), Udogie (7), Porro (7), Van de Ven (8), Romero (8), Bissouma (4), Sarr (7), Maddison (8), Kulusevski (6), Richarlison (5), Son (6).
Subs: Skipp (n/a), Hojbjerg (7), Royal (n/a), Davies (n/a), Veliz (n/a).
Man of the match: James Maddison.
The fallout from Spurs' controversial 2-1 win over Liverpool last weekend rumbled on for far too long after Jurgen Klopp suggested on Wednesday a replay would be the right outcome, before he insisted a day later the matter was over for the club. Sporting integrity, the very fabric of the game, was brought into question.
Here, where Luton Town have played their home games since 1905, where Paul Gascoigne once scored for Spurs with his dancing feet, football prevailed.
Luton made three changes for the visit of Tottenham, with centre-back Reece Burke fit enough to start.
Burke was only on the bench for Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Burnley after a slight hamstring injury but started alongside Mads Andersen and Elijah Adebayo, with Teden Mengi, Amari’i Bell and Issa Kabore dropping out of the starting line-up.
Tottenham remained unchanged following last weekend’s controversial win over Liverpool, with captain Heung-Min Son and James Maddison fit to start.
Spurs boss Ange Postecoglou was able to recall Eric Dier, Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil to the bench after all three were absent from the last matchday squad.
Tottenham should have scored twice inside the opening five minutes, and both times through Richarlison. The Brazilian, with two goals in 34 Premier League appearances for Spurs, somehow lifted over from underneath the crossbar from Dejan Kulusevski's cross before firing straight at the legs of Thomas Kaminski.
Kaminski was then beaten after Heung-Min Son found Pedro Porro inside the box but the full-back was off target. Postecoglou looked on dumbfounded by his side's poor finishing, which continued when Son cut inside and curled over.
Luton would ride the early Spurs storm and warm to their task. The Hatters had the ball in the net through Tom Lockyer as he stooped to anticipate the bounce off the post from Elijah Adebayo's hooked shot but referee John Brooks correctly spotted a foul on Cristian Romero in the build-up.
Brooks needed no replay either to see a clear act of simulation from Bissouma, already on a booking, which swung the momentum Luton's way. The dive itself was a shocker, all the more incomprehensible given his earlier yellow for a professional foul on Chiedozie Ogbene.
"He's been brilliant for us this year, but he made a mistake," said Postecoglou. "These things happen in football."
Postecoglou immediately plugged the gap with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg introduced at the restart - and just seven minutes into the second half, Van de Ven nudged Spurs in front. Following a third corner, James Maddison wriggled free from Alfie Doughty to set up the Dutchman for his first Premier League goal from close range.
Moments earlier, Adebayo had glaringly missed an easier chance for Luton at the far post following more good work from Ogbene. Spurs now had something to hold onto, and it briefly silenced the partisan Kenilworth Road crowd, but they were soon roaring their team on and Doughty dragged wide soon after the opener.
Morris tested Guglielmo Vicario minutes later and, although Porro sent an effort just past the post for Tottenham in the 62nd minute, Luton started to build momentum. Jacob Brown headed over before substitute Cauley Woodrow had a weak shot saved.
A deflected effort wide by Doughty was the final warning sign for Postecoglou, who introduced Emerson Royal and Oliver Skipp for Son and Maddison with 14 minutes left but Spurs held on to go top.
Luton's 33.4 per cent possession was the lowest figure by a home side in a Premier League game in which the opposition had received a red card since Aston Villa against Chelsea in May 2021 (28.8 per cent).
Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou:
"It was two different halves. We played some great football in the first half and should have been two or three up. Obviously, the red card changed the game but the lads handled it so well and we were always a threat going the other way. The sheer will and effort was there from the players."
On Romero's performance: "He makes the rest of the defence feel like they belong. Micky was outstanding today and dealt with a lot of long balls. He's got outstanding physical qualities but he's maturing. But working with Cristian, I can see he's an outstanding defender. He shows ridiculous bravery and he stays calm."
Lionel Messi has called him the best defender in the world. "He's a good judge," responded Postecoglou.
Luton boss Rob Edwards:
"I've been told it [Lockyer's disallowed goal] was the correct decision but not by my staff, but they didn't come raging into the dressing room to tell me it should have stood. It was ridiculous that due to two injuries we were then down to nine men for a short period.
"I feel like we've left points out there today. We didn't come out the traps the first 10-12 minutes but after that we started to execute what we wanted to do and we were in the game.
"The dynamic changed because of the sending off and it was an opportunity for us to be more aggressive. We predicted their change, so we changed our shape to go to a back three and we had a huge opportunity, a massive chance, which we didn't take, and we've been punished for.
"We huffed and puffed and had a couple of other big moments which we didn't take. They're an elite team, which means that even when they're down to 10 men it's hard. They were well organised, but we're competing in every game.
"We were well beaten against Brighton and Chelsea earlier in the season, but since then we've shown a lot of good qualities, we've put teams under pressure but we've not collected enough points to show from it. We need to learn quickly and ensure our mentality is right at every single moment."
Sky Sports' Ben Grounds at Kenilworth Road:
"The Tottenham players, in their all-grey changed strip, stood and applauded their fans in the Oak Road Stand at the final whistle. In many respects, Spurs had been off-colour for large spells of this frenetic encounter. But they found a way of winning, as they have done already on numerous occasions this term.
"At home to Sheffield United and last weekend against Liverpool, they celebrated dramatic late wins. Even on the road, they have come from behind at Brentford, Burnley and Arsenal to claim points.
"It can no longer be viewed as a fluke, but a trend under the charismatic Postecoglou. This should have been far more routine than it panned out given Richarlison's glaring early sitter which sparked a contest among the Tottenham players for worst misses of the season so far.
"Such profligacy will get punished against better sides, but it was only after Bissouma's senseless dismissal for a blatant dive in front of referee Brooks, that we saw the streetwise Spurs which has them among the early-season pace-setters.
"Prior to this round of fixtures, 10 teams had faced fewer shots and attempts on target against than Tottenham - and here Luton had 12 of their own - but with Maddison in the side, even down to 10, there is always a chance.
"It was his quick-thinking which earned all three points, and from that moment, Postecoglou set his side up to manage the remaining minutes expertly. Gary Neville claimed Tottenham are not title contenders, but the evidence against the viewpoint is becoming increasingly compelling."
All seven of Maddison's goal involvements for Tottenham in the Premier League this season have been away from home (2 goals, 5 assists). Indeed, he's the first player for the club in the competition whose first five assists have all come on the road.
Tottenham return to action after the international break with a Premier League match against Fulham at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday October 23, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; kick-off 8pm.
Luton are facing a league trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday October 21; kick-off 3pm.