Tottenham win as Ange Postecoglou able to use most powerful weapon for first time

Depth: Ange Postecoglou can change the game significantly from the bench (REUTERS)
Depth: Ange Postecoglou can change the game significantly from the bench (REUTERS)

Heung-min Son's return to Tottenham was the difference in their last-gasp 2-1 win over Brighton, the South Korean setting up fellow substitute Brennan Johnson for the winning goal in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time.

Son's brilliant cross to the far post - where Johnson finished emphatically into the roof of the net - completed Spurs' comeback after Pape Sarr's goal on the hour had cancelled out Pascal Gross' first-half penalty.

Son's decisive comeback will go down as the story of the game, as well as Ange Postecoglou's successful use of his bench, underlining the newfound depth in this Spurs squad now that their best players have returned from injury and internationals.

Son, Johnson and Yves Bissouma were all introduced in a triple change immediately after Sarr's well-taken equaliser, having been readied to come on before the Senegal midfielder finished from a tight angle after his initial cross was turned onto the post.

Pape Sarr equalised from a tight angle (Action Images via Reuters)
Pape Sarr equalised from a tight angle (Action Images via Reuters)

It felt like a big moment in the game and maybe in Spurs season, too. Son was back, and now Postecoglou finally had all his most influential players available at once, leaving Spurs in a good position to kick on in the final half hour of the game and in the final 15 matches of the season.

The odd thing was that the changes initially threatened to completely derail Spurs. Off went Rodrigo Bentancur, Dejan Kulusevski and Timo Werner, and the hosts, who had been in the ascendency since around the half-hour mark, lost both control and their shape.

Perhaps the goal had simply woken up Brighton but it felt deeper than that.

Kulusevski was immediately missed. The Swede had been holding down the right flank since half-time and had the beating of Brighton left-back Pervis Estupinan, but Johnson struggled to get into the game and hold up the ball.

Spurs were so out of kilter in the 20 minutes after the subs, Postecoglou turned again to his bench, instructing two holding midfielders in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp to get ready.

The Australian clearly felt that his side desperately needed to regain a foothold in the middle of the park.

Spurs players celebrate the late winner (REUTERS)
Spurs players celebrate the late winner (REUTERS)

In the end, only Hojbjerg came on and Skipp was sent back to the back to make way for a different sub in Ben Davies, following an injury to Destiny Udogie.

Even with Hojbjerg on for Sarr, Spurs struggled to re-establish their dominance from the start of the second period, and it was Brighton who looked likeliest to deliver a late sucker punch.

Substitute Ansu Fati very nearly provided it, firing just wide of Guglielmo Vicario's far post minutes before the finale.

But then Spurs put together their best counter-attack of the match, James Maddison playing in Richarlison and the Brazilian setting away Son to tear down the left flank in characteristic fashion.

After a string of mixed deliveries from Werner, Son showed how it is done, finding Johnson with a perfectly weighted ball.

Postecoglou's decision to introduce speed and directness in the final third, at the expense of the control provided by Werner and Kulusevski, had paid off at the last. Spurs had been rewarded for the strength of their bench and their perseverance.

It showed the fine margins at this level, though, that on a different day, the Spurs subs might have been the story for very different reasons.