THERE are recurring themes to the away wins that are keeping Tottenhamâ€™s Premier League season afloat. This, their third, was sealed, like its predecessors, with a last-minute winner and against 10 men.
Although the contest was ultimately settled by the quality of Christian Eriksenâ€™s finish, its complexion was altered by a flick of a Hull playerâ€™s boot rather than a Tottenham one. It was that of GastÃ³n RamÃrez five minutes into the second period as he kicked out at Jan Vertonghen in a manner reminiscent of David Beckham towards Diego Simeone at the 1998 World Cup.
With RamÃrez, only playing because the hostsâ€™ top scorer, Mohamed DiamÃ©, was suffering from a bout of tendinitis in a knee and who featured for Mauricio Pochettino at Southampton last season, went the home teamâ€™s attacking threat and the Hull manager, Steve Bruce, accused Vertonghen of cheating over his part in the incident. The Belgian had appeared to tread on his opponent amid a tangle of limbs.
â€œThe Barclays Premier League is watched all around the world because of its honesty, so letâ€™s stop this where we constantly see players wanting to get people sent off,â€ said Bruce. â€œIt gave the impetus back to them. Who knows what the outcome would have been with 11 but I am sure we would have stood a better chance. For me, the whole spectacle was ruined because of that incident.
â€œThere is no doubt that RamÃrez has shown petulance; Vertonghen has a little go at him and provokes him and he flicks out. The letter of the law says it is violent conduct. But the reason the Premier League is loved around the world is the honesty of it, the integrity of it and the ferocity of it.â€
Although neutrals might not have agreed with Bruceâ€™s assessment, neither would they necessarily have shared Pochettinoâ€™s opinion that the numerical advantage was not pivotal in his latest comeback win. Before victory at Aston Villa on their last road trip, a Pochettino team had not overturned a deficit during his time in England.
â€œNo, I donâ€™t think it had a big impact,â€ said the Argentinian. â€œAt the beginning of the second half our game was better than Hull. I am sure that at the end it would have been the same result.â€
A side showing six changes â€“ Emmanuel Adebayor was among those to miss out through injury â€“ trailed to their former midfielder Jake Livermoreâ€™s eighth-minute opener. Seizing on a headed clearance from Federico Fazio, Livermore exploited the reluctance of Ben Davies to close him down as he approached the area and guided a precision effort beyond Hugo Llorisâ€™s dive.
But for Lloris the half-time deficit could have been greater, with Robbie Brady denied by a fine reaction save and another stop from RamÃrezâ€™s angled drive resulting in Hatem Ben Arfa curling the rebound wide. At the other end Spurs did not test the returning Allan McGregor until five minutes before the break when Erik Lamelaâ€™s shot was beaten away.
Traffic in the home area increased immeasurably, however, once it became 10 versus 11. Hullâ€™s exercise in stealth had limited Tottenham to Harry Kaneâ€™s equaliser on the hour, turned in instinctively from 10 yards after the elfish Eriksenâ€™s free-kick was redirected into his path via the post and the unwitting McGregorâ€™s sprawling frame.
Hull reshaped, sacrificing the mercurial skills of Ben Arfa and the passing range of the booked Tom Huddlestone. But the dam was cruelly burst as the clock hit the 90-minute mark and Eriksen ghosted across the fringe of the penalty area to bend his shot inside the far post.
To the glass half-fullers among Spurs fans it extended Tottenhamâ€™s happy knack of purloining late points on the road. To the half-empties it is papering over the cracks. But also spare a thought for Hull who have given up seven points in the last 10 minutes of matches and now sit two places above the relegation zone as a consequence.
Man of the match Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) – The Guardian