Raúl Jiménez and Hélder Costa stun Spurs as Wolves seal late comeback win

Wolves came from behind to stun Spurs at Wembley, as Raúl Jiménez and Hélder Costa struck late to seal a shock 3-1 win

This was the kind of dramatic collapse that will leave Tottenham wondering if they have the depth and killer mentality to last the distance in the title race. Mauricio Pochettino’s side chose a bad moment to come crashing down to earth after their recent scoring spree and their failure to quash an astonishing comeback from Wolves inspired little confidence in their ability to keep up with Liverpool at the top of the table.

Tottenham struggled to absorb the disappointment after succumbing to a late storm from Nuno Espírito Santo’s fearless side. They were poised to extend their winning run after an early cracker from Harry Kane but their leggy response left much to be desired when Wolves roared back after half-time, prompting Pochettino to accuse his players of assuming that the game was over when they led 1-0.

Unfortunately for Tottenham, Wolves proved far more durable opponents than Bournemouth and Everton after falling behind to Kane’s 18th goal of the season. The visitors played with impressive intensity and enterprise as the game wore on and were threatening long before producing an exhilarating 15-minute flurry that resulted in goals for Willy Boly, Raúl Jiménez and Hélder Costa. This was no smash-and-grab – Wolves, who are up to seventh place, were worthy winners.

“I am very proud,” Nuno said. “It is something we insist on, to show character. We had two different halves. Tottenham had control of the game. They scored a goal and had chances. Then in the second half we tried to go for the game. It was a very good performance.”

Wolves adopted a cautious approach in the opening period and there was an air of edginess as Tottenham attempted to demonstrate their title credentials. Heightened expectations can do funny things to the mind; no wonder Nuno had designs on forcing a tight, frustrating affair.

Tottenham’s response was to adopt a shoot-on-sight policy. Dele Alli and Son Heung-min snatched at efforts and Kieran Trippier fired a free-kick at Rui Patrício. The hosts were in control but they were crying out for a spark of invention, a moment to set the pulse racing.

Up stepped Christian Eriksen, bringing the best out of Patrício with a dipping strike.

Tottenham built up ominous momentum and the breakthrough arrived in the 22nd minute. Ivan Cavaleiro conceded possession, allowing Son to send Kane on a foray down the right. The threat was minimal but Kane is capable of scoring from any situation. The striker, who received an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list, cut inside Boly before using his supposedly weaker left foot to let fly with a superb drive from 25 yards.

More than anything, it was the abruptness of the shot that took the breath away. It was a wonderful exhibition of Kane’s technique and a crushing way for one of the most complete forwards around to puncture the tension.

Yet Wolves summoned greater conviction at the start of the second half, pinning Tottenham back, feeding on the crowd’s growing anxiety. Pochettino’s men were weary on and off the ball. Kane was booked for diving and with Rúben Neves increasingly influential in midfield for Wolves, an equaliser began to feel inevitable. That sense increased when Nuno made an attacking substitution, replacing Leander Dendoncker with the silky João Moutinho.

The question was whether Wolves were capable of fashioning a telling opportunity. With 18 minutes remaining, they produced an emphatic answer. Moutinho delivered a corner from the right and Boly took advantage of slack marking to head past Hugo Lloris.

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Wolves had scored with their first shot on target but Tottenham could have no complaints. Seeing that his opponents were wounded, Nuno urged his players to go in for the kill. “I felt we could keep on going,” he said. “You have to be brave in these situations.”

The tide had turned and the comeback was complete with seven minutes to go, Cavaleiro slipping a pass inside to Jiménez, whose trickling shot from the edge of the area somehow squirmed past Lloris’s late dive.

Wolves craved more. Neves combined with Matt Doherty, who released Costa. The substitute’s precise low shot sent the travelling fans into a state of ecstasy and left Tottenham with some tough questions to ponder.

Contributor

Jacob Steinberg at Wembley

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