Wolves dealt a huge blow to Tottenham’s title aspirations with a shock 3-1 Premier League victory on Saturday.
A 5-0 Boxing Day win over Bournemouth lifted Spurs above Manchester City into second but it was their failure to put this match to bed while they were on top that ultimately cost them at Wembley.
Harry Kane gave the home side the lead with a wonderful strike midway through the first half and Spurs – after scoring 11 goals in their last two matches – might have expected to kick on and subject Wolves to another hammering.
But the home side could not add to their tally despite dominating possession and Wolves produced a stunning second-half revival, with Raul Jimenez and Helder Costa finding the net after Willy Boly had equalised with the visitors’ first shot on target, ending Spurs’ five-match winning run in the league.
Pochettino’s side have looked capable of scoring with every attack of late and, after Dele Alli sent an effort harmlessly over from the edge of the area, they drew a superb save from Patricio with a bending Christian Eriksen strike from 20 yards.
The opener arrived in the 22nd minute, when Kane curled a wonderful left-footed effort beyond the Portuguese keeper from outside the box, although Wolves will feel aggrieved that play was not stopped for a potential foul on Ivan Cavaleiro in the build-up.
Goalscoring opportunities were a rarity early in the second half but the match started to threaten an unlikely twist 20 minutes in, when Cavaleiro was sent clean through on goal only to be chased down and dispossessed by the backtracking Davinson Sanchez.
That opening came during a period of Wolves pressure, causing the nerves to jangle for Spurs.
Those nerves proved well-founded when Boly headed home from a Joao Moutinho corner in the 72nd minute and Jimenez then squeezed a finish inside Lloris’ right-hand post to leave Pochettino’s men stunned.
And things got worse for Spurs before the final whistle, with Costa curling a neat finish around Lloris three minute from time to complete a memorable triumph for Wolves, who climb to seventh in the Premier League.
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 29, 2018
What does it mean? Damaging defeat for Spurs
Spurs have been touted as realistic title challengers in recent weeks and their thumping victories over Everton and Bournemouth only enhanced that view. But a home defeat to Wolves undoes some of the hard work that put them in the mix and this could be a result they come to rue at the end of the season.
The introduction of Moutinho in place of Leander Dendoncker in the 68th minute coincided almost perfectly with the start of Wolves’ second-half upturn. The Portugal international provided the assist for Boly’s equaliser and gave Wolves a much-needed calm head in the middle of the park, with the visitors having been exposed on the counter-attack on a number of occasions prior to his arrival.
Not to M-BE for Harry
Kane may not have been able to inspire a result to match his awarding of an MBE in the New Year honours, but he did at least produce a finish befitting of the occasion. The England striker cut in from the right-hand side of the box and bent home a delightful strike with his less favoured left boot, but it was not enough to earn the win on a costly afternoon for Spurs.
Key Opta stats:
1 – This was Mauricio Pochettino’s first ever Premier League defeat against a newly-promoted side while in charge of Spurs – he was unbeaten in 27 such meetings before today (W25 D2). Stunned. pic.twitter.com/AZKsVLkc1j
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 29, 2018
– Wolves recorded their first Premier League win over Spurs since February 2010 (1-0 under Mick McCarthy), having gone winless in their previous five meetings in the competition (D2 L3).
– This was only the third time that Spurs have lost a Premier League home game by 2+ goals under Mauricio Pochettino – the other two were against Liverpool (0-3 in August 2014) and Manchester City (1-3 in April 2018).
– Spurs suffered a Premier League home defeat after opening the scoring for the first time since May 2016 (1-2 v Southampton).
– Wolves have only lost two of their seven Premier League games against ‘big six’ opponents this season (W2 D3 L2), managing to avoid defeat in each of their three away games (W1 D2).
– 47% of Spurs’ goals in the Premier League this season have been scored in the month of December (20/43).
– Wolves striker Raul Jimenez has been directly involved in 10 of the team’s 23 goals in the Premier League this season (six goals and four assists).
– Spurs striker Harry Kane has had a hand in 12 goals in his last 12 Premier League appearances against newly-promoted teams (11 goals and one assist).
Spurs will want to get their campaign back on track at Cardiff City on New Year’s Day, while Wolves begin 2019 at home to Crystal Palace.