Erik Lamela flaunted outrageous quality and foolishness. An audacious "rabona” goal was produced for Tottenham's opener in the first half against Arsenal. However, the Argentine received two bookings in seven minutes after the break, with the red coming after swinging his arm recklessly. By that time Arsenal had already turned the north London derby around with Martin Odegaard scoring just before halftime and Alexandre Lacazette adding a goal from the penalty spot in the 64th minute to seal a 2-1 win.
This was a defeat more damaging for top four-chasing Tottenham than transformational for Arsenal in the Premier League standings with Mikel Arteta's side in 10th place. "The spirit that we showed throughout the game was incredible,” Arteta said, "going 1-0 down after the way we were playing was really disappointing and probably the worst-case scenario for us to play against a team like Spurs. But we reacted with a lot of personality.”
Tottenham still has hopes of grabbing one of the four Champions League spots, but Jose Mourinho's side didn't seize on Chelsea dropping points in a draw on Saturday, falling six points behind fourth place while still having a game in hand. "Defending bad, no intensity, no pressing,” Mourinho said. "Even in terms of creating attacking football, some important players were hiding.”
The setbacks for Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium started when Son Heung-min pulled up clutching his left hamstring and he walked off down the tunnel in the 19th. "Muscular is always not easy,” Mourinho said of the injury. "That's football - it's the accumulation of matches.”
Lamela was summoned as the replacement and he lit up the derby by scoring with the maneuver known as a "rabona.” Lamela moved his left foot around the back of his right ankle and cleverly poked a shot in the net in the 33rd minute. It was a moment of slick quality that seemed to come so casually for Lamela.
Sergio Reguilon's face showed how stunned even the Tottenham teammates were, with his mouth open in awe and shock and his hands around his head after the goal went in. Arsenal had completely controlled the game until that point but the hosts did level just before halftime when Odegaard scored for the first time in the league since joining on loan from Real Madrid in January.
The Norwegian flicked in a cross from Kieran Tierney between the legs of Toby Alderweireld and the shot took a slight deflection off the Tottenham center back. Arsenal completed the turnaround after Lacazette was knocked into by Davinson Sanchez after a miskicked shot, winning a penalty that he converted in the 64th. "I don’t want to call it a penalty,” Mourinho said sarcastically, "because it’s an offense to penalties.”
Usually, it would have been captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on penalty duty but he was dropped to the bench and didn't come on for breaching disciplinary rules. "These things happen," Arteta said. "We move forward. Let’s enjoy the victory tonight and let’s dedicate it to our fans.”
However, it was Tottenham's disciplinary issues that cost the team, and the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced empty stadium meant there was no heated derby atmosphere to blame. Lamela was booked for fouling Thomas Partey in the 69th but didn't curb his conduct. He received a second yellow card seven minutes later after swinging his right arm in Tierney's face, seeing red for the first time in almost eight years at Tottenham.
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