Tottenham Hotspur struggled to start another match Sunday, but they were bailed out by a silly sending off. Hull City turned in a great performance, but a rush of blood to the head by Gaston Ramirez cost them, and Spurs walked away from the KC Stadium with a 2-1 win.
Spurs got off to a putrid start, with the hosts all over them. Steve Bruce had publicly challenged his side to do better after a poor performance against Burnley before the international break, and they took the lead just nine minutes into the match.
Former Tottenham midfielder Jake Livermore was the one who put the visitors behind, and in impressive fashion. Jan Vertonghen cleared a long ball away, but only as far as Livermore, who surged forward. Ben Davies attempted to close him down, but couldn't do it fast enough, and Livermore drilled a perfect shot past Hugo Lloris at the far post from 25 yards.
Hull stayed on top through the half-hour mark and should have scored again in the 21st minute. Lloris stopped a shot from Robbie Brady, but Hull recovered the ball and worked it into the box again. A cross-shot hybrid by Gaston Ramirez was tipped to Hatem Ben Arfa, who smashed the ball over the crossbar with a nearly empty net in front of him.
Spurs' first real attack of the match came in the 29th minute, and ended predictably. A cross by Eric Dier was in a good spot for Roberto Soldado to get on the end of and head on target, but inexplicably, he missed it entirely. Not long after, Dier picked up a yellow card, which led to his substitution at halftime.
There was an incident between Ramirez and Christian Eriksen just before halftime that might have led to the match's eventual turning point. Ramirez was incensed that Eriksen wasn't booked for a high boot that made contact with his ankle, and the Hull attacker's temper got the better of him just after the break. In the 50th minute, he kicked out at Vertonghen while down on the ground, and he was rightfully sent off.
Immediately after gaining a man advantage, Spurs started to dominate, and they leveled the match in the 61st minute. A stunning direct free kick by Eriksen hit off the inside of the post, and Harry Kane was in a perfect position to clean up the rebound and score his 11th goal of the season in all competitions.
But even though Spurs were the better side from then until the end of the match, they struggled to find a second goal. Soldado had another very poor miss in the 66th minute and Kane headed wide a couple minutes later. After that, Hull settled in, and it appeared they'd be able to hold on for a point.
Eriksen, however, had other ideas. In the 90th minute, with his team struggling to create anything of note, the Dane surged forward on his own, found a tiny pocket of space and placed a perfect shot past Allan McGregor from 20 yards to steal all three points for Spurs.
Hull City: McGregor, Robertson, Davies, Dawson, Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone (Rosenior 64'), Brady (Quinn 87'), Ramirez (red 50'), Ben Arfa (Meyler 57'), Jelavic
Goals: Livermore (8')
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Davies, Vertonghen, Fazio, Dier (Chiriches 46'), Mason, Dembele (Lennon 59'), Eriksen, Kane, Lamela, Soldado (Paulinho 79')
Goals: Kane (61')
1. Eric Dier is not a right back - NBC commentators Peter Drury and Danny Higginbotham were taking Dier to task for turning down a call-up to England Under-21, where he would have played right back, to stay at Spurs and train at central defense during the international break. As it turns out, Dier might know what he's doing. He's struggled quite a bit at right back this season and had another shocker today, probably because he's played central defense for the entire professional portion of his career. He also happens to be very, very good at it -- better than Federico Fazio and Younes Kaboul on recent evidence. Kyle Walker can't come back soon enough for Spurs.
2. Spurs could really use Jake Livermore right now - Not just for his goal, but for everything. His work rate in both pressing and getting back after an attack. His switches out to the wings. His hard tackling. Basically, Jake Livermore is everything that Tottenham Hotspur's midfield has been lacking since Sandro blew out his knee.
3. Hull were going to win without that red card - Tottenham Hotspur were pretty devoid of attacking ideas in the first 50 minutes of the game, and if it wasn't for Hugo Lloris and some poor finishing by Hull, they would have gone down by three goals. But everything changed when Gaston Ramirez kicked out at Jan Vertonghen, and it's the kind of decision that can (and often times, should) get a player frozen out by his manager. He's suspended for three games, and it'll probably be more than that before he starts again.