LONDON: Harry Winks proved an unlikely Tottenham Hotspur hero with a last-gasp winner in his side’s 2-1 Premier League victory at lowly Fulham late last night after a nightmare afternoon for Fernando Llorente.
With Tottenham talisman Harry Kane absent injured, Spanish striker Llorente was handed a rare league start.
He made an impression too, clumsily gifting Fulham a 14th-minute lead with an own goal. Llorente also spurned two gilt-edged chances as Spurs suffered from the absence of Kane and South Korean Son Heung-min.
Thankfully for Llorente, Dele Alli equalised in the 51st minute and, just when it looked like third-placed Tottenham would draw for the first time in the league this season, Winks stooped to head the winner in the last seconds of stoppage time.
It was England midfielder Winks’s first goal for Tottenham in just over two years and a crucial one as his side opened up a four-point gap on fourth-placed Chelsea and restored their seven-point lead over Arsenal and Manchester United.
In the early kick-off yesterday, Manchester City barely got out of second gear as they easily beat bottom club Huddersfield Town to close the gap on Premier League leaders Liverpool to four points.
Danilo’s deflected shot gave City the lead in an opening half in which they were not at their sharpest.
That goal took City’s goal tally to 100 in all competitions this season - making them the only club in Europe’s top five leagues to reach that total.
“It was a blur, I can’t remember what happened, it was a great moment and a win that we needed,” Winks said.
“It has been too long (since I last scored), we needed to bounce back after United, we knew it would be a tough game, we had to try and dig in and do our best and we got lucky and got the three points.”
For Fulham it was a heart-breaking defeat after they had belied their lowly position to cause Tottenham problems.
Manager Claudio Ranieri was left to rue the naivety of his side who have now conceded 51 league goals this season - seven more than any other club.
He was especially disappointed that Tottenham’s winner originated from a Fulham free kick at the other end.
“With one minute at the end we have a free kick and put it in the box, why? Take it to the corner,” said the Italian, whose side remain deep in relegation trouble seven points behind 17th-placed Newcastle United.
With so much negativity about Tottenham’s prospects without top scorer Kane, who could be missing until March with an ankle injury, it was a chance for Llorente to prove his worth.
But he endured a difficult day.
In the 14th minute he was back to defend a corner but when Jean Michael Seri swung it in Llorente inadvertently poked it into his own goal attempting a clearance.
Almost immediately he had a chance to make up for it when Jan Vertonghen curled in an inviting ball but Llorente headed powerfully straight at fellow Spaniard Sergio Rico.