Tottenham won their first Premier League game of 2020 by beating bottom-of-the-table Norwich at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Spurs had gone three league games without scoring this year before Dele Alli struck just before half-time, turning in Serge Aurier’s cross.
But Norwich hit back when Ryan Sessegnon brought down Max Aarons inside the box and Teemu Pukki fired the spot-kick beyond Hugo Lloris, who made his return after three months out with a dislocated shoulder.
Buoyed by that goal, the Canaries took the game to their opponents as they looked to snatch what would have been an unexpected but priceless win in their battle against the drop.
Todd Cantwell’s cross was cut out with Pukki lurking unmarked inside the box before Cantwell lashed well over from the edge of the box.
And Tottenham got their second in the closing stages when Alli’s deflected cross looped to the far post, where Son Heung-min was on hand to nod in.
Victory – Tottenham’s first in the Premier League since beating Brighton on Boxing Day – means Jose Mourinho’s side move up to sixth.
Norwich, meanwhile, remain bottom and six points adrift of safety.
Alli ends Spurs’ long wait
The absence of the injured Harry Kane as the focal point of Tottenham’s attacks has been telling, with Spurs having failed to score in the Premier League this year going into the game.
And, for more than 30 minutes, the home side once again looked destined to draw a blank.
Tottenham’s build-up play was ponderous and on the few occasions they did manage to find gaps in the Norwich defence the chances were wasted, as Erik Lamela fired straight at Tim Krul and Son Heung-min drove into the sidenetting.
But, seven minutes before half-time, Alli provided the one moment of quality to break the deadlock. After 398 minutes and 48 shots, Spurs had finally scored their first goal of 2020.
The home side have the joint worst record for clean sheets in the Premier League – level on three with opponents Norwich – so a one-goal lead was always likely to leave Spurs fans nervous.
And their worries would prove founded as Norwich equalised with 20 minutes remaining, Pukki’s penalty – his 11th goal of the season – looking to have done enough to earn the battling Canaries a hard-fought draw.
But Son, aided by a touch of fortune with the wicked deflection from Alli’s cross, got the winner with 11 minutes to go and ensured Tottenham took three points that just about keeps them in the hunt for the top four.
It was not a great performance by Tottenham but they got the goal and the win, while a big positive was the return of goalkeeper Lloris. The France international had been out since dislocating his elbow against Brighton on 5 October and was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI for this game.
Lloris was largely untested and perhaps should have done better for Pukki’s penalty having guessed the right way, but it will have been pleasing for Tottenham fans and Mourinho to see him come through the 90 minutes unscathed.
Attention switches to the FA Cup for both these clubs. Tottenham travel to Southampton on Saturday, 25 January (15:00 GMT), while Norwich are at Burnley at the same time.
More to follow.