Soccer

Brennan Johnson sends Spurs fourth after dramatic winner against Brighton

Pape Sarr had cancelled out Pascal Gross’ opener from the spot.

Brennan Johnson, right, celebrates scoring Tottenham’s winner against Brighton
Brennan Johnson, right, celebrates scoring Tottenham's winner against Brighton Brennan Johnson, right, celebrates scoring Tottenham’s winner against Brighton (John Walton/PA)

Brennan Johnson struck the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time to fire Tottenham into the top four after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Brighton.

Spurs looked to have lost more ground after they dropped points at Everton last weekend but Ange Postecoglou’s second-half substitutes did the trick.

Pascal Gross’ 17th-minute penalty had given Brighton a half-time lead in the absence of boss Roberto De Zerbi, who was recovering at home after invasive dental surgery this week.

The points looked set to be shared after Pape Sarr levelled for Tottenham in the 61st minute only for Son Heung-min, back again after Asian Cup duty, to tee up fellow substitute Johnson deep into stoppage time to earn a vital victory.

Brighton assistant Andrea Maldera patrolled the touchline in De Zerbi’s absence and should have watched his team take the lead inside 60 seconds.

Danny Welbeck won back possession from Micky van de Ven by the halfway line and dribbled into the area but Guglielmo Vicario clawed away his shot.

Spurs continued to be sloppy in possession and it was no surprise when Brighton took the lead in the 17th minute.

Gross tackled Rodrigo Bentancur and the ball worked its way to Welbeck, who was caught on the ankle by Van de Ven inside the penalty area.

Without the injured Joao Pedro, Gross took on spot-kick duties and sent Vicario the wrong way for his fifth goal of the season.

Postecoglou’s side did mount a response with Richarlison impressively denied by Jason Steele after a fine through ball by James Maddison, who himself curled wide from 18 yards soon after.

In between had been a flair-up between Cristian Romero and Adam Lallana, which referee Sam Barrott was happy to wave on despite protestations by the Brighton midfielder.

The Seagulls almost doubled their lead prior to the half-hour mark when Bentancur again lost possession but Kaoru Mitoma – back from Asian Cup duty – had a poked effort tipped wide by Vicario from a tight angle.

Spurs did finally start to click in attack towards the end of the first 45, with Richarlison flicking wide from a Timo Werner cross and Dejan Kulusevski forcing Steele into a low save.

Richarlison also squandered a promising position ahead of half-time with Maddison free to his left to ensure it remained 1-0 to Brighton at the break.

Tottenham maintained their momentum after the restart with a Maddison free-kick saved before Werner’s mazy run ended with his shot deflected wide.

It started three corners in quick succession for Spurs but after they failed to make the most of them Postecoglou turned to his bench.

Yves Bissouma, Johnson and Son were all ready to come on when the equaliser did arrive with 61 minutes played.

Kulusevski was the architect with a wonderful through ball releasing Sarr and while his cross was deflected onto the post by Lewis Dunk, the Senegal midfielder was on hand to curl home with his left foot to make it 1-1.

Postecoglou made his triple change immediately after but it failed to have the desired impact aside from Son teeing up Johnson for a snapshot straight at Steele.

Brighton were now in the ascendancy and should have gone back ahead with 14 minutes left when Mitoma got in behind Porro but Welbeck arrowed his cutback past the post.

A minute later and Van de Ven had to throw himself in the way of Facundo Buonanotte’s strike before Spurs had penalty appeals for a handball by Dunk turned away.

Hopes of a late goal were raised when six minutes were added on and with seconds left Richarlison played in Son, who crossed for Johnson to slam home a dramatic late winner.