Belfast Telegraph

Tottenham boss Pochettino turns attention to FA Cup clash after making his point

Brighton 1 Tottenham 1

By Ed Elliott

Tottenham's pursuit of Champions League football suffered a minor setback as they squandered a lead to draw 1-1 at Brighton.

Spurs had the chance to move 10 points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea in the battle for a top-four finish and they appeared on course to do so when Harry Kane broke the deadlock early in the second half.

However, Pascal Gross converted a penalty two minutes later to deny them victory and boost the home side's hopes of Premier League survival.

The draw leaves Brighton eight points clear of the relegation zone ahead of an unenviable final four fixtures against seventh-placed Burnley, Manchester United, champions Manchester City and free-scoring Liverpool.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said: "It was a difficult game, the first half was even and the second half we started it really well.

"We scored and in the next section we conceded. In the second half we dominated, created chances but not enough to win the game. The draw is a little bit disappointing because the intention was to get all three.

"We were thinking of giving the team fresh legs because Saturday's game against Manchester City was tough mentally and physically.

"We have a squad good enough to win games. Today was not because we rotated the team. Everyone is ready to play but Brighton was a very difficult opponent and we need to give credit to them."

Gross admitted Brighton were not taking Premier League survival for granted despite reaching 36 points.

He said: "We had a bad period the last few games. We showed that we have good character as a team.

"We know we need more points, we showed great character that we can take points in every game. We do it today, we will see, we keep going."

Gross conceded that Spurs had taken advantage of poor defending when they scored.

He said: "The goal was a very bad mistake from us, a stupid goal."

After their 14-game unbeaten league run was ended by champions Manchester City at the weekend - and with an eye on Saturday's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United at Wembley - Pochettino made six changes to his starting XI.

Defender Toby Alderweireld, who has been struggling with a hamstring problem, made his first Premier League appearance since October as part of the rotation, while England midfielder Dele Alli was left out of the squad completely.

Chris Hughton's Seagulls were culpable of some calamitous defending for the 48th-minute opener.

A poor pass from Gross followed by indecision from Gaetan Bong allowed Heung-Min Son to slip into the box and, after he went down under pressure from Mathew Ryan and Dunk, the ball broke for Kane to sweep home his 26th league strike of the season.

The lead lasted just over two minutes, with the ball in play for less than 20 seconds.

Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo went to ground in the box under a challenge from Serge Aurier and regular penalty taker Glenn Murray, who has missed twice from the spot this season, stepped aside to allow German midfielder Gross to atone for his error by converting into the bottom-left corner.

Belfast Telegraph

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