Gareth Bale’s first goal since re-signing for Tottenham helped his side beat Brighton to go second in the Premier League table.
In an action-packed game, Harry Kane put Spurs ahead from the penalty spot, his 149th Premier League goal, after a video assistant referee check deemed Adam Lallana had fouled the England captain.
Tariq Lamptey scored a controversial equaliser, the exciting 20-year-old sweeping home after Solly March appeared to foul Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the build-up.
Referee Graham Scott consulted the pitchside monitor before allowing the goal to stand, much to Tottenham’s disbelief, before substitute Bale had the final say.
The Wales forward powered home a cross by Sergio Reguilon past debutant Brighton keeper Robert Sanchez, his first Spurs goal since May 2013.
Bale to the rescue
Bale celebrated his first Spurs goal in seven years and 166 days as though he had won the Champions League again, wheeling away to celebrate with his jubilant team-mates.
Jose Mourinho turned the clock back in an attempt to get his Tottenham tenure moving into the future when he brought Bale back to the club he left in 2013 for Real Madrid.
Bale was derided in Spain as more golfer than footballer after being marginalised by coach Zinedine Zidane but he played a key role as Spurs climbed two points behind leaders Liverpool.
Mourinho demanded a reaction following his side’s surprise Europa League defeat at Royal Antwerp on Thursday, a game in which he made four changes at half-time.
He got one although his side were made to battle hard against Brighton, who cancelled out Kane’s opener in highly contentious circumstances before Bale stole the headlines.
Erik Lamela hit the post and Kane missed a great chance from close range to score his landmark 150th top-flight goal, yet this was not vintage Spurs.
But for the second successive league game they dug deep to come away with three points.
Lamptey again catches the eye
Brighton played without a recognised striker, with leading scorer Neal Maupay left out of the 18.
In addition, the visitors gave a debut to keeper Sanchez, whose last competitive match was against Rotherham United for Rochdale in League One last season.
But Graham Potter’s side played some good football and in Lamptey, who was a bundle of energy, they have one of the most exceptional young talents in the Premier League.
His first career goal came from a pass by Pascal Gross, who has now assisted 16 Premier League goals for Brighton, double that of any other player at the club.
The worry for Potter is his side are not winning enough games.
Despite enjoying more possession than Spurs, it is now one victory in seven league matches.
‘Tottenham fans love Gareth’ – what they said
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho, speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “It wasn’t a surprise because I knew Brighton were a very good team with a very good coach. They created lots of difficulties but we had a very good reaction after they equalised.”
On Brighton’s controversial equaliser: “I have to try and stay away from this. I don’t know what to say.”
On Gareth Bale’s winner: “We were in need of a goal and I’ve been telling you for a couple of weeks that Bale is improving. I know he doesn’t have 90 minutes of Premier League in his legs.
“The good thing with him is he is very intelligent, very experienced and very Tottenham. He understands.
“We are using the Europa League matches to improve his condition and today he scored a winning goal, which is a great feeling for the team. It’s also a great feeling for the fans because Tottenham fans love Gareth.”
Kane breaks into all-time top 10 – the stats
- Harry Kane has moved into the top-10 all-time Premier League goals list, notching his 149th strike to move level with Les Ferdinand.
- Only the bottom three sides have lost more games in the Premier League this season than Brighton (four).
- Tottenham (14 points) end the day as high as second in the Premier League table for the first time since February 2019 under Mauricio Pochettino.
- Of the 12 players to have taken at least 25 Premier League penalties, only Matt Le Tissier (96%) and Thierry Henry (92%) have a higher penalty conversion rate than Harry Kane (88%, 22/25).
Tottenham are off to Bulgaria to face Ludogorets in the Europa League on Thursday (17:55 GMT), while Brighton are back in action on Friday at home to Burnley in the Premier League (17:30 GMT).
Brighton & Hove Albion
- 3ReguilónBooked at 39mins
- 11LamelaSubstituted forBaleat 70′minutes
- 28NdombeleBooked at 7minsSubstituted forLo Celsoat 64′minutes
- 7Son Heung-MinSubstituted forDaviesat 85′minutes
- 18Lo Celso
- 27Lucas Moura
- 33BurnBooked at 45mins
- 2LampteySubstituted forMac Allisterat 79′minutes
- 20MarchSubstituted forBernardoat 65′minutes
- 11TrossardSubstituted forWelbeckat 74′minutes
- 10Mac Allister
Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 1.
Joël Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur).
Foul by Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton and Hove Albion).
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Offside, Brighton and Hove Albion. Robert Sánchez tries a through ball, but Dan Burn is caught offside.
Yves Bissouma (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur).
Attempt missed. Giovani Lo Celso (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Gareth Bale.
Attempt saved. Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Pascal Groß.
Hand ball by Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Ben Davies replaces Son Heung-Min.
Adam Webster (Brighton and Hove Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur).
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Alexis Mac Allister replaces Tariq Lamptey because of an injury.
Substitution, Brighton and Hove Albion. Danny Welbeck replaces Leandro Trossard.
Goal! Tottenham Hotspur 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 1. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Sergio Reguilón with a cross.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box. Assisted by Gareth Bale following a corner.
Attempt missed. Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Giovani Lo Celso with a cross following a corner.