Share Alli scored his first league goal in 17 months and Harry Kane got his long-awaited return from his extended summer break as Tottenham maintained their 100% start to the season at Wolves.
Alli’s penalty in the ninth minute proved to be enough to separate the sides in a breathless meeting at Molineux.
Roared by an enthusiastic crowd, the Wolves were unlucky not to get away with a point.
The dangerous Adama Traore wasted the best of a series of chances for the hosts as he was sent through by Ruben Neves, only to shoot directly at Hugo Lloris.
However, Tottenham could rightly argue that they could have won with more.
Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa made four excellent saves in the second half, including one to deny Kane a comeback goal.
It was a day to remember for new Spurs boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was a hugely popular figure in his four years as Wolves boss before leaving in the summer. Now it looks like he is bringing some stability back to a club that appeared in chaos the last few months.
All the noise around Kane has obscured the positive work Nuno has done since his Spurs arrival after their lengthy search for Jose Mourinho’s replacement.
One of the Portuguese’s tactical tweaks involves pushing Alli into a slightly deeper role than he is used to.
A 25-year-old star in England in 2018, the 25-year-old has slipped far down Gareth Southgate’s list of options since then.
He seems to have benefited from both a new manager and a summer vacation.
After a decent opening day contribution to the memorable victory against Manchester City, Alli was heavily involved in Molineux and took advantage of the cover from the defensive midfield duo Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp.
There is also nothing wrong with his confidence as Alli was the man brought down by Sa as he ran into Sergio Reguilon’s play through before calmly rolling the penalty down into the bottom corner.
The gap between Alli’s last two top-flight goals covered exactly that between full stadiums at stake, as his previous performance at Burnley was in the weekend before the lockdown in March 2020.
Kane is welcome back
When he went to the visiting fans to applaud them at the last whistle before giving his manager a big hug, Kane must have been quietly pleased with how the afternoon had gone.
The same supporters had reacted to the sight of Kane being removed and ready for action by serenading him with ‘he is one of our own’, which was in stark contrast to the previous weekend when it appeared that there was a schism between them and their club’s highest paid player.
Wolves fans were less charitable.
After bowing to the English skipper as he left the Tottenham team coach 80 minutes before kick-off, they mocked him – and their opponents – with a series of songs that were a reminder of how ruthless supporters can be.
He becomes a ‘Manc in the morning’ and ‘he wants to play for a big club’ were two of the pure examples – and there were many others who were not.
After all the debate about his future, fuel that he provided in his interview before Euro 2020, just getting back on track will come as a kind of relief for Kane.
He would have enjoyed the experience even more if Sa had not denied his efforts up close 10 minutes from time.
When he shouted encouragement from the bench before his arrival and was selflessly booked for wasting time near the end, he at least proved that he has Tottenham’s best at heart.
Work to do for the Wolves
The result means that Wolves have lost their first two league games for the first time since 2003, which is not the way new manager Bruno Lage wanted to start his reign.
Although Traore was a threat, there was a lack of strikers, especially Francisco Trincao was flattering to deceive.
Striker Raul Jimenez does not appear to be hesitant after breaking his skull last November, but expected new arrivals between now and the transfer deadline may be necessary if the club are to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle.
Wolves are next in action against Manchester United, also at Molineux, on Sunday 29 August (16:30 BST).
Tottenham entertain Watford the same day (14: 00BST). Before then, they are trying to topple a 1-0 deficit in the first stage against Portuguese Pacos de Ferreira in the Europa Conference League play-offs on Thursday 26 August (19:45 BST).
- 1Malheiro de Sa
- 27SaïssReplaced forFabio Silvaon 84 ‘minutes
- 22Nelson Semedo
- 28João MoutinhoReplaced forDendonckeron 72 ‘minutes
- 11Triple axReplaced forAït-Nourion 84 ‘minutes
- 9JimenezBooked after 57 minutes
- 2How far
- 17Fabio Silva
- 25HandsBooked after 38 minutes
- 6D Sánchez
- 5HøjbjergBooked after 85 minutes
- 29skipBooked in 44 minutes
- 27Lucas MouraReplaced forCelsoon 67 ‘minutes
- 7Son Heung-MinReplaced forsleighon 72 ‘minutesReserved in 90 minutes
- 23Mountain wineReplaced forFlashingon 90 + 1 ‘minutes
- 19R Sessegnon
Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1.
Second half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) receives a yellow card.
Change, Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Winks replaces Steven Bergwijn.
Attempt saved. Min.27, ‘failed chance, kick of Fábio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is in the center of the area. Assisted by Rúben Neves with a cross.
Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Steven Bergwijn.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Nélson Semedo.
Attempt blocked. Right-footed shot by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur) blocked from the center of the box. Assisted by Harry Kane.
Attempt blocked. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Adama Traoré with a cross.
Attempt blocked. Rayan Aït-Nouri (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Rúben Neves.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Fábio Silva (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur).
Attempt saved. A header from Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur) from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Giovani Lo Celso with a cross.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Marçal.
Error from Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in his own half.
Shift, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Fábio Silva replaces Romain Saïss.
Shift, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rayan Aït-Nouri replaces Trincão.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by José Sá.
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