Tottenham vs Burnley match report: Dele Alli and Danny Rose hit home to overturn early deficit at White Hart Lane

Tottenham Hotspur 2 Burnley 1: Spurs were punished for a sloppy start but goals from Alli and Rose ensured the home side claimed all three points

Jack Pitt-Brooke
at White Hart Lane
Sunday 18 December 2016 18:48
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Danny Rose celebrates scoring Tottenham's second to hand the north London club all three points
Danny Rose celebrates scoring Tottenham's second to hand the north London club all three points

Has any player improved more in 2016 than Danny Rose? He started the year fighting for his position with Ben Davies and is now ending it as comfortably the best left-back in the country. This afternoon at White Hart Lane he delivered his best ever performance for Spurs, tearing into Burnley and winning the game with explosive power, with 19 minutes left.

This win, their fourth in a row at home in the league, keeps Spurs fifth, one point behind Arsenal and Liverpool. Like their defeat of Hull City on Wednesday, it owed everything to Rose and Kyle Walker, the two full-backs who are currently Spurs’ best two players. If anyone else has improved as much this year as Rose then it is Walker, and the pair who sliced through Hull on Wednesday, playing as wing-backs, did the same to Burnley today, playing in a four.

Walker was good and set up Dele Alli’s first equaliser, but Rose was even better. Spurs were just starting to get frustrated before his winner, as the minutes ticked away and Tottenham failed to make their dominance count. This was a very one-sided contest but one that was skewed by Ashley Barnes bundling Burnley ahead in the first half.

Tottenham's players congratulate Rose on his goal

Before and after that goal it was all Tottenham, who dominated possession, peppered Tom Heaton with shots and, on another day, could have scored five or six. Mauricio Pochettino bemoaned the fact that they did not kill the game in the first 15 minutes. Alli, Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen all missed good chances before Spurs dropped their tempo and were punished by conceding a sloppy goal.

That goal could have thrown Spurs’ focus but to their credit they continued to come at Burnley until they finally scored. Walker, in nearly as good form as Rose himself, drove down the right and crossed low. Burnley failed to wake up and Alli was free to tap in.

Dele Alli scored Tottenham's equaliser

Having equalised before the interval, the atmosphere for the second half was positive as Eriksen forced Tom Heaton into two more saves. But Spurs needed something more which was why Pochettino turned to Moussa Sissoko. His first meaningful action was a high, late tackle on Stephen Ward. Sean Dyche said that it was “impossible” that he was booked, rather than sent off.

Sissoko’s second serious action, to Dyche’s disbelief, was to storm down the pitch on the counter-attack and lay the ball to his left to Rose. Taking a touch, Rose thumped the ball so hard at the near post that Heaton could not get anywhere near it. It was a goal that Rose deserved for his tireless work all afternoon, and a lead Spurs deserved for being by far the better team.

For Burnley there was only frustration that they could not hold onto a lead which they had earned through their first-half work. They came here with a simple plan: fight hard, keep it tight, take their chances, and that is what they did. They were happy to let Spurs have the ball, trusting that they could still be dangerous with it when they did have it.

There has been a defensive slackness about Spurs this season, especially when Toby Alderweireld was missing, as he was here, following a back spasm in training. Burnley sensed that and with almost their first real touch of the ball, they nearly scored. Stephen Ward broke down the left, crossed, and Hugo Lloris had to react brilliantly to keep out Andre Gray’s shot.

Ashley Barnes sends the ball past Hugo Lloris to hand Burnley the lead

That should have been Spurs warned but they did not wake up and soon enough Burnley’s keenness punished them. Harry Winks overcomplicated and lost the ball, Scott Arfield drove into the box, George Boyd was allowed to spin and shoot and the ball fell, easily enough, to Ashley Barnes, who did the necessary.

From that point on Burnley did exactly what they were expected to do. They defended hard, wasted time and did not keep the ball for any longer than they needed to. Their only attacking threat was Andre Gray running in behind, and he might have won penalties with a bit of luck out of Eric Dier and Walker. Dyche was less unhappy with those decisions than he was with the failure to send off Sissoko, the moment which made for Spurs’ crucial win.

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