Dele and VAR ensured Tottenham avoid full-blown crisis against Hornets

first_imgDELE ALLI and the helping hand of VAR ensured Tottenham have avoided a full-blown crisis – at least for now.There were only four minutes left at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and it looked like it was going to be a case of complete panic stations here in this part of north London.8 Dele Alli slid in Tottenham’s late equaliser as they drew to WatfordCredit: Reuters8 The England star caused confusion over whether he handled the ball in the build-upCredit: Rex Features8 The strike initially appeared to be chalked off when the big screen incorrectly stated ‘no goal’Credit: AFP or licensors8 Dele Alli then clashed with a number of incensed Watford players after the goal was awardedCredit: ReutersBasement side Watford, without a win yet in the Premier League, were leading thanks to Abdoulaye Doucoure’s first-half strike and defending heroically for their lives despite the injury to star striker Danny Welbeck.Knives were already being sharped. Boos from the home stands had already greeted an insipid first-half display.A third successive embarrassing defeat would have represented arguably the worst patch – and biggest test of – Mauricio Pochettino’s five-and-a-half-years.And then in the closing stages, Alli cleverly fired home to turn the jeers into cheers and end the rot of doom and gloom.There were calls for handball but the referees in Stockley Park allowed the equaliser – which is perhaps one of the most important goals of Alli’s Spurs career.Yes, it might be extravasation to say that but defeat to the Hornets, following heavy losses to Bayern Munich and Brighton, would have suggested there is something rotten going on behind-the-scenes.In his programme notes, Pochettino had called on his players to recover and respond from the previous two defeats, in which they had shipped 10 goals in 180 minutes.Tottenham’s line-up included seven changes from the Brighton debacle but the majority of them were for injuries with playmaker Christian Eriksen out with a dead leg.The Hornets made two changes with Craig Dawson replacing the injured Sebastian Prodl in central defence while Nathaniel Chalobah took the place of Andre Gray in midfield.Watford’s awful start to the season could be explained by the long-term absence of talisman Troy Deeney. He is the one man whom, when the going gets tough, defiantly fires up the side to get rough. And there is little he can do while watching from the stands.8 Abdoulaye Doucoure stunned the home side early on to give Watford a share of the pointsCredit: AFP or licensors8 Danny Welbeck lasted just four minutes before succumbing to injuryCredit: PA:Press AssociationIn his absence, Danny Welbeck was seen as the man to lead the line and fire them to safety. But his involvement here lasted just FOUR MINUTES.About 90 seconds into this third Premier League start for Watford, the former Arsenal man fell to the floor clutching his right hamstring and then hobbled off, cursing his luck once more.It was the worst start imaginable for the visitors.Either Welbeck had not warmed-up properly or was never fit to play anyhow.Questions, serious questions, needed to be asked to the Watford hierarchy and medical staff about his involvement.However, in a strange way, his appearance galvanised Watford because minutes later they took the lead, taking advantage of Tottenham’s momentarily switching off at the back.Captain Craig Cathcart played an ambitious 50-yard ball to the right flank and Daryl Janmaat controlled the cross as it sailed over the head of Tottenham left-back Danny Rose.Janmaat played it first time into the penalty area and there was the alert Doucoure, racing ahead of nearest marker Toby Alderweireld, to sweep home past goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga for his first goal since April.It was Watford’s fifth Prem goal this season. And the corner of Watford fans could not believe their luck. “How s*** must you be,” they sang with gusto, “we’re winning away.”For Tottenham, it was the first time they had conceded inside the opening 10 minutes in consecutive Prem matches for almost five years.The tension from the home side was palpable and understandable. Not again, they were thinking. Surely it wasn’t going to get this (italics) bad.Any apprehension in the stands turned to anger on 16 minutes when the Spurs fans screamed for a penalty. Rose was upended by Roberto Pereyra but the referee Christopher Kavanagh quickly waved away the complaints and VAR agreed it was a fair challenge.At the other end, Watford had their own penalty drama on 37 minutes.Gerard Deulofeu, brought on for Welbeck, was brought down by Vertonghen, and Watford demanded the penalty.VAR was consulted and though the Spurs did NOT touch the ball as it travelled over the byline, the original decision of a goal kick remained. A very lucky escape for Spurs.Tottenham fans made their feelings known at half-time with a loud chorus of boos. Poch responded by bringing on Heung-min Son for Davinson Sanchez.And the South Korean could have scored within four minutes of his cameo but his shot thundered off the crossbar. Son also thought he was going to get a penalty after a tangle with Cathcart but nothing came of it.Nothing seemed to be going Tottenham’s way until the final minutes when goalkeeper Ben Foster collided with his own player Kiko Femenia, and Alli rolled the ball into the net from six yards.A VAR check concluded it was a goal even though it had bounced off the top of his right arm. There were also calls that Harry Kane had blatantly pushed one of the Watford players in the build-up.There was confusion, however, when the ref blew for a goal but the TV screen in the stadium announced: “NO GOAL.”Most Read in FootballTHROUGH ITRobbie Keane reveals Claudine’s father was ’50-50’ in coronavirus battleTOP SELLERGavin Whelan has gone from League of Ireland to David Beckham’s InstagramExclusiveRIYAD RAIDMan City’s Riyad Mahrez has three luxury watches stolen in £500,000 raidPicturedAN EYEFULMeet Playboy model and football agent Anamaria Prodan bidding to buy her own clubI SAW ROORodallega saw Rooney ‘drinking like madman’ & Gerrard ‘on bar dancing shirtless’NEXT STEPJonny Hayes set to move to English Championship having been let go by CelticNaturally tempers flared. In the dugout, from Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, and then on the pitch with Alli booked for his role in a brief melee as he argued with Tom Cleverley.For Watford, there was natural sympathy that they had missed out on that precious first win despite exceptional defending from their centre-backs.For Tottenham, a reminder that improvements will be required, particularly when they visit Anfield next Sunday.8 Mauricio Pochettino feels the pressure as Tottenham struggled at home to WatfordCredit: AFP or licensors8 Basement club Hornets had also seen VAR refuse to award them a first-half penaltyCredit: ReutersSpurs chiefs worry axing Mauricio Pochettino will benefit their rivals as Man Utd and Real Madrid circlelast_img read more