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Second-half goals from defenders Micky van de Ven and Pedro Porro moved Tottenham into the top four after a 3-1 home win over struggling Nottingham Forest.

Ange Postecoglou’s side were fortunate to be level at the break but produced a sharp second-half performance to strengthen their hopes of Champions League football as they moved above Aston Villa into fourth on goal difference.

But speaking in his post-match press conference, Postecoglou said: “I couldn’t care less about the race for fourth, mate. What I care about is the way the team progresses.”

Player ratings

Tottenham: Vicario (7); Porro (8), Romero (7), Van de Ven (8), Udogie (7); Bissouma (6), Sarr (6); Johnson (6), Maddison (7), Werner (7); Son (7).

Subs used: Hojbjerg (7), Bentancur (7), Lo Celso (6), Kulusevski (6), Scarlett (n/a).

Nott’m Forest: Sels (7); Williams (6), Omobamidele (6), Murillo (6), Aina (6); Yates (6), Danilo (6); Elanga (7), Gibbs-White (6), Hudson-Odoi (6); Wood (7).

Subs used: Origi (6), Dominguez (6), Reyna (n/a), Sangare (n/a), Montiel (n/a).

Player of the match: Micky van de Ven.

Spurs took a 15th-minute lead through a Murillo own goal after the defender had nearly scored a spectacular opener from inside his own half just minutes earlier.

But the home side were pegged back when Chris Wood levelled in the 27th minute, and then they should have been behind seven minutes later as the Forest striker hit the post from just two yards out.

Spurs took advantage of that huge miss as they restored their lead early in the second half through Van de Ven’s thunderous strike (52).

Porro then gave Spurs a two-goal lead six minutes later with a powerful finish at the back post to end Forest’s three-game unbeaten run and leave them outside of the relegation zone on goal difference ahead of 18th-placed Luton.

How Spurs strengthened their Champions League hopes

There were some doubts ahead of kick-off whether the game would go ahead after police opened a murder investigation following a stabbing near the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium just before 6am on Sunday morning.

But Spurs confirmed the fixture, which had already been brought forward from Monday due to travel disruption in London, remained on nearly four hours before the 6pm kick-off.

Team news

  • Tottenham made one change from midweek draw at West Ham with midfielder Pape Sarr replacing Rodrigo Bentancur, who dropped to the bench.
  • Nottingham Forest were unchanged from Tuesday’s 3-1 home win over Fulham.

Tottenham began the game brightly, but it was Forest who nearly took a spectacular 11th-minute lead when defender Murillo attempted a shot from well inside his own half that looped over Spurs goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario and went just wide.

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Murillo’s absurd effort from own half almost catches Spurs out!

Four minutes later, Murillo went from nearly a hero to complete zero as he turned into his own net from a Timo Werner cross to give Spurs the lead.

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Unfortunate Murillo turns Werner cross into own net

A dominant Tottenham pushed for a second as Forest goalkeeper Matz Sels did superbly to deny ex-Forest forward Brennan Johnson from close range in the 24th minute.

But three minutes later Forest punished a wide open Spurs defence as Anthony Elanga burst down the right to cut back for Wood, who fired home to score for a fourth consecutive Premier League game.

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Chris Wood slams home as Forest level against Spurs on counter!

With Spurs rocked and Forest buoyed, Wood should have had a second in the 34th minute but the striker missed a glorious chance as he smashed a two-yard rebound from Ryan Yates’ saved shot against the post.

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Incredible miss as Chris Wood smashes post from two yards out!

Spurs’ frustration showed when Maddison escaped punishment for an off-the-ball whack into the stomach of Yates, who went down but VAR did not intervene.

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Roy Keane was not convinced that Tottenham’s James Maddison’s clash with Nottingham Forest’s Ryan Yates warranted a red card.

Spurs were fortunate to go in level at the break and are yet to have a home half-time lead in 2024.

Postecoglou responded with a half-time double substitution as Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were brought on, and the latter nearly made an instant impact as his deflected shot from distance was tipped over by Sels.

Spurs’ fast start to the second half was rewarded in the 52nd minute when Van de Ven hammered in from just inside the box for a memorable first home goal for the club.

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Micky van de Ven blasts Tottenham back into the lead with great strike

Then just six minutes later, Tottenham scored their 11th Premier League goal by a defender this season – the joint-most of any side (Arsenal also 11) – when Porro drilled in from Bentancur’s flicked header to the back post.

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Pedro Porro powers home third for Spurs

Porro’s strike gave Spurs complete control as Forest struggled to threaten, while Spurs pushed to improve their goal difference on Villa.

Heung-Min Son came close to doing so late on but Forest goalkeeper superbly saved his shot onto the post as Spurs saw out the game to put them on 60 points – the same tally they finished on last season – and make it a miserable Tottenham return for Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo after his ill-fated four months in charge three years ago.

Ange: Dominant second half got the win

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Tottenham Hotspur head coach Ange Postecoglou says his side will continue to see how far they can push themselves.

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou to Sky Sports:

“Had a little bit of everything, I guess. We started the game well enough and apart from the goal, we had a good grip on it. But when they scored, we lost our way towards the end of the first half and Vic had to make a good save to keep us in it.

“Second half, we were really dominant. There were good contributions from everyone, scored a couple of goals and maybe could’ve scored a few more.

“I don’t care who wins [the Premier League title race], but we’ll be in there fighting for ourselves and seeing how far we can push ourselves for us to build our foundations. Hopefully we’re one of the teams in the title race.”

On half-time subs: “It wasn’t about being happy, we just needed some energy. Three games in a week, I have a luxury now of having a squad, which I didn’t have for a big part of the year so why not utilise them?

“We’ve got a tough run-in, we’re going to need the whole squad so it’s good to have that available.”

Nuno: Maddison should have been sent off for Yates clash

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Nottingham Forest head coach Nuno Espirito Santo says he is surprised VAR didn’t check an incident involving Ryan Yates and James Maddison.

Nottingham Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo told Sky Sports when questioned about Maddison’s off-the-ball incident with Yates:

“For me, it’s clear. There are two moments in the first half we can speak about. That situation, I think it’s a red card. I think Maddison loses his composure and he reacts.

“I’m surprised VAR didn’t saw it and I’m surprised Simon [Hooper] pretended like nothing happened.

“Then the clear chance we had with Chris in the first half that went onto the post. That could change the game.”

On the game: “In the first half, we were playing the game imagined. We performed well, good movements, it is difficult to stop Tottenham, but we managed to control them at least.

“We had good spells and managed to achieve a goal. We had chances.

“The second half was not good. In the beginning, we were too passive to allow the shot and then it becomes very hard. That’s disappointing because we wanted to keep on going. We felt that we could do much better.

“It’s a fight and we’ll keep on fighting. We’re here to fight until the end, the players have the character until the last minute. This gives us confidence.”

Opta stats: Forest’s away struggles continue

  • Since the beginning of last season, Nottingham Forest have won fewer away points (18 – W3 D9 L23) and lost more away games (23) than any other ever-present Premier League team. Forest have lost 27 of their 30 games on the road in the competition against teams starting the day in the top-five (W1 D2).
  • Both teams have scored in each of Tottenham Hotspur’s last 12 home Premier League games (F26 A19) with only Blackpool (17 between August 2010 and April 2011) and Brighton and Hove Albion (May 2023 and December 2023) ever seeing longer such runs in the competition.
  • Chris Wood has scored 12 goals for Nottingham Forest in the Premier League this season, with only Stan Collymore (22 in 1994-95) and Bryan Roy (13 in 1994-95) netting more in a single campaign for the Tricky Trees.
  • Murillo’s own goal was the fifth Tottenham Hotspur have benefitted from in the Premier League this season, the outright most of any side; the Brazilian became the sixth Nottingham Forest player to score an own goal in the competition, after Mark Crossley, Steve Chettle, Colin Cooper, Des Lyttle, and Andrew Omobamidele.

What’s next?

Tottenham’s tricky next four fixtures

  • Newcastle (a) – April 13
  • Arsenal (h) – April 28, live on Sky Sports
  • Chelsea (a) – May 2, live on Sky Sports
  • Liverpool (a) – May 5, live on Sky Sports

Tottenham are back in action on Saturday as they go to Newcastle in the Premier League; kick-off 12.30pm.

Nottingham Forest also play on the same day, hosting Wolves; kick-off 3pm.

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