Andros Townsend hit a late goal to spare Tottenham Hotspur’s blushes after they’d thrown away a two-goal lead to Toronto FC at BMO Field.
Erik Lamela scored twice in the before the interval, but Andrew Wiedeman pulled one back, before Jordan Hamilton equalised. However, Townsend’s 86th-minute pearler was enough to kill off the Canadians’ hopes of a positive result, and clinch a 3-2 victory.
Spurs had been run close in Seattle on Saturday, when they’d drawn 3-3 with the Sounders, but for a long time there was no such resistance here, as the Ontario outfit looked a way out of their depth until their second-half comeback.
Both line-ups featured players particularly eager to make an impact. For the visitors, Ben Davies made his debut, having only signed for the club four hours earlier, along with Swansea City teammate Michel Vorm. The Reds were captained by Jermain Defoe, who left London earlier this year in search of first-team football – something he has promptly found in Major League Soccer.
Tottenham had a chokehold on the early proceedings, but conjured no concrete evidence of their dominance until the 15th minute. A Roberto Soldado flick and Aaron Lennon fade had both missed the target prior to Chris Konopka holding Lamela’s strike, but the Argentine wasn’t to be denied.
Breaching the right side of Toronto’s back-line, the former Roma man slid the ball beyond the goalkeeper into the corner – hopefully the first sign of improved fortunes after a difficult first year in England.
Though Spurs continued to probe, they eased off, allowing their hosts a spell of possession. The Reds had been looking for a positive result ahead of their crunch clash with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, where they will look to plunder back some points from the sizeable chasm that the Wizards and DC United have forged between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference, but Nelsen’s men were struggling to offer anything in an attacking sense here.
With half-time approaching, the Lilywhites ranked the pressure up once more, and were duly rewarded. The scorer was again Lamela, this time collecting a Soldado pass and lashing past a helpless Konopka.
While Clint Dempsey’s relative anonymity for Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday was a fitting microcosm of his mixed spell at White Hart Lane, Defoe scored 143 for Spurs, and though he appeared desperate to show his old club what they’re missing here, he was hooked.
The home side finally managed their first meaningful attempt on goal in the 57th minute, but Kyle Bekker battered wide, before Harry Kane’s volley met the same fate at the other end.
Then, just as the contest was starting to peter out, Wiedemen slotted in from Danny Lovitz’s through-ball and sparked both teams back into life.
Incredibly, the MLS outfit quickly scored again to level the scores. The goal-scorer turned goal-provider, playing a gorgeous cushioned pass into 18-year-old forward Hamilton, who fired into the net.
Kyle Walker was cutting a frustrated figure, and cleared the near post with an effort from a tight angle, while his England teammate Townsend had a low fizzer blocked by Konopka.
Moments later though, the winger allowed no intervention. Lewis Holtby carried the ball forward, and offloaded to Townsend, who cut inside and effortlessly propelled an arching drive into the top corner.
With no time for a response, the goal earned Mauricio Pochettino his first win as Tottenham manager – a harsh outcome for the MLS play-off chasers, regardless of their slow start.