Tottenham 3-1 Nottingham Forest: Spurs back in top four thanks to defenders

News Desk
Micky van de Ven celebrates a goal for Tottenham against Nottingham Forest
Micky van de Ven celebrates against Forest

Tottenham took control of the top-four race after second-half goals by defenders Micky van de Ven and Pedro Porro downed relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest 3-1.

After Aston Villa dropped points at home to Brentford on Saturday, Spurs knew a victory would send them fourth on goal difference and with a game in hand, but Chris Wood’s first-half strike ensured it was level at the break.

Murillo’s own-goal put Tottenham ahead, although they were perhaps fortunate to still have 11 players on the pitch for the second half after James Maddison caught Ryan Yates off-the-ball towards the end of the first 45.

Maddison avoided punishment and helped the hosts claim a crucial win as they struck twice in five second-half minutes via fine finishes by Van de Ven and Porro to fire Ange Postecoglou’s team above their Champions League rivals.

This game was originally scheduled for Monday night but moved forward due to a planned train strike and in the early hours of Sunday morning a man was stabbed to death near the stadium.

Despite roads around the ground being closed due to a police investigation, the fixture went ahead and it represented Nuno Espirito Santo’s first return to Tottenham since he was sacked in 2021.

Nuno’s ill-fated spell only lasted 17 matches but he almost had a wonder goal to celebrate in the 11th minute.

Forest centre-back Murillo produced the most outrageous effort from almost 70 yards with Guglielmo Vicario off his line and the Spurs goalkeeper could only watch on nervously as the ball sailed a few inches wide.

Murillo did find the net four minutes later but it was his own as Tottenham went ahead.

The hosts moved the ball out to the left where Timo Werner produced a dangerous cross, which Murillo miscued past Matz Sels.

It was nearly 2-0 when Werner worked a yard of space and his centre found Brennan Johnson, but the former Forest attacker was denied by a brilliant close-range stop from Sels.

That proved crucial when Wood scored for a fourth consecutive match after 27 minutes.

Neco Williams and Anthony Elanga combined down the right before the latter crossed in for Wood, who drilled through the legs of Porro to make it 1-1. It made it 24 out of 31 Spurs games this season in which both teams have scored – 77% courtesy of our Premier League tables.

Only Luton with 78% have had goals from both teams in a higher percentage of their games in the Premier League so far this season – you won’t get much better information than that if looking for btts tips.

Wood should have doubled his tally seven minutes after equalising when Vicario denied Yates and he was first to the loose ball, but Forest’s top goalscorer smashed his close-range effort against the post.

An action-packed opening 45 ended with Maddison lucky to escape punishment after he delivered an off-the-ball whack into the stomach of Yates, who went down and called for VAR to intervene.

Referee Simon Hooper decided to just speak with the pair as it stayed level at the break.

Postecoglou had seen enough and made a double substitution at half-time, which almost immediately worked but a 25-yard curler from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was tipped over by Sels.

Wood had his blushes sparred by the offside flag moments later when he inexplicably headed wide from a Williams cross.

The match had taken on an end-to-end feel now but it was Tottenham who seized the momentum with two goals in the space of five minutes.

Both were from unlikely sources with Van de Ven blasting home from the edge of the penalty area for his first goal at Spurs’ home ground in the 53rd minute.

Soon after full-back Porro rivalled his fellow defender for finish of the night with a sweet half-volley after excellent work by Maddison, who skipped away down the left and had his cross flicked on by Bentancur for Porro to fire home.

Son Heung-min hit the post late on but it mattered little as Tottenham moved up to fourth, while Forest stay 17th.