Dele Alli caps Spurs fightback to sink Brighton

Dele Alli caps Spurs fightback to sink Brighton
Tottenham’s Lucas Moura fights for the ball with Brighton’s Shane Duffy, left, during the English Premier League soccer match in London on Thursday. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 26 December 2019

Dele Alli caps Spurs fightback to sink Brighton

Dele Alli caps Spurs fightback to sink Brighton
  • Tottenham have won three of their last four league games as they try to climb into the top four

LONDON: Dele Alli got Tottenham back on track as the England midfielder capped a gritty escape act with the late winner in Thursday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton.

Jose Mourinho’s side were in danger of a second successive Premier League defeat when Adam Webster headed Brighton into a shock lead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But Harry Kane equalized after the interval and Alli finished off a flowing Tottenham move in the closing stages to erase the bitter taste of last weekend’s acrimonious London derby loss to Chelsea.

“I’m very happy with second half. I’m not saying players were wrong but we changed bits and that makes a difference,” Mourinho said.

“It’s hard after a defeat to have confidence and we started poorly, it affects the confidence. Brighton have monsters in the air and it affected the self-esteem of our team.

“In the second half the players put all the negative aside and were very strong in their performance.”

Avenging their defeat at Brighton in October, Tottenham, unbeaten in Boxing Day fixtures since 2003, have won three of their last four league games as they try to climb into the top four.

Saluting Alli’s crucial contribution, Mourinho said: “Another goal and another incredible performance and effort. The work rate was absolutely incredible from Dele.

“The little details are more important than what people look at. His attitude and fighting spirit was so good.”

That Chelsea setback was completely overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse of Blues defender Antonio Rudiger by Tottenham fans after his role in Son Heung-min’s red card.

Amid widespread calls for stronger action to stamp out racism in football, Tottenham fans appeared to behave better this time.

Since Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham, no Premier League team had conceded more goals than the 14 his side allowed across all competitions heading into this round of matches.

Those defensive frailties were on display when Steven Alzate lost his marker and forced Paulo Gazzaniga into a sprawling save.

Kane has a knack of scoring on Boxing Day and the Tottenham striker thought he had netted again when he fired home from Winks’ pass, but the goal went to a VAR review and was ruled out by the narrowest of offside decisions.

Brighton made the most of that let-off to take the lead in the 37th minute.

Pascal Gross swung over a free-kick and Webster rose above Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez to plant a powerful header past Gazzaniga for his third goal of the season.

Mourinho must have been furious that Tottenham wilted against such a simple set-piece and his team’s record of one clean-sheet in his nine matches suggests a defender could be high on his January shopping list.

Underlining the urgency to address that problem area, Brighton’s Bernardo forced Gazzaniga to save from a corner moments later to the audible frustration of the Tottenham crowd on a dank, wet day in north London.

Mourinho, standing rain-soaked on the touchline, revealed before the game that his Christmas was ruined by the death of his family’s pet Yorkshire Terrier.

But Kane put a smile back on his manager’s face in the 53rd minute when he seized on a deflection off Lucas Moura after the Brazilian’s determined run.

Drilling a shot that Mat Ryan could only push back out, Kane gobbled up the rebound with a clinical finish for his eighth goals in five Premier League games on Boxing Day.

Kane’s 16th club goal this season was followed by Mourinho making a significant switch when he sent on Christian Eriksen for Harry Winks.

Eriksen made an immediate impact in the 72nd minute when he floated a delicate pass to Serge Aurier who flicked the ball into the path of Alli, who guided a superb lofted finish over Ryan.


Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
Updated 16 January 2021

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community

Saleh’s hiring by Jets source of pride for Muslim community
  • The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the US
  • The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in Detroit

NEW YORK: Robert Saleh has made history that extends far beyond any football field.
The New York Jets’ new head coach has families and community leaders excited in neighborhoods all across the country, celebrating the first known Muslim American to hold that position in the NFL.
That’s a source of great pride for a group that has been generally underrepresented in the league’s on-field leadership roles.
“It’s something that shows the growing diversity of our nation, the inclusion we’re trying to achieve at all levels of our society,” said Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “And I think it’s a very positive sign.”
The 41-year-old Saleh, expected to be formally introduced next week by the Jets, is the son of Lebanese parents and grew up in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to the largest Muslim population in the United States per capita.
“I think he’s just a trailblazer for a lot of coaches who are Muslim, to let them know that they do have a chance to be a head coach,” said Lions offensive lineman Oday Aboushi, a practicing Muslim who has played in the NFL for eight seasons — including his first two with the Jets.
“He shows them you do have a chance to be a defensive coordinator, you do have a chance to grow up and have a job at the professional level,” Aboushi added. “As long as you’re professional and you’re passionate about it like he is, I think a lot of people will look to him as a trailblazer, as far as everyone feeling like they could do it themselves and it’s an attainable dream.”
After Saleh’s college playing career as a tight end at Northern Michigan ended, he got his start in coaching by working as an assistant at Michigan State, Central Michigan and Georgia before being hired as a defensive intern by the Houston Texans in 2005.
Then came stints with Seattle and Jacksonville before Saleh became San Francisco’s defensive coordinator in 2017, helping the 49ers reach the Super Bowl last year with his No. 2-ranked unit. He was a popular candidate among the seven teams looking for a new coach this offseason, and quickly emerged as the favorite for the Jets job.
Saleh, known for his energy on the sideline and being well-liked by players, impressed the Jets during his first remote interview. He was flown in a few days later for an in-person meeting with Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at the team’s facility in Florham Park, New Jersey.
After a two-day visit, Saleh left to meet with Philadelphia for its coaching vacancy — but the Jets knew they found their new coach. The team announced Thursday night the sides reached an agreement in principle.
“As a pioneer in the sports world, Saleh will serve as an inspiration to many young American Muslims,” Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of CAIR’s New Jersey chapter, said in email to The Associated Press. “In addition to the positive impact that he’ll have on Muslims, Saleh’s presence in the field and on the screen will remind the rest of America that Muslims are a part of the fabric of this nation and proudly contribute to society. It’s a step toward tearing down walls and building bridges.
“Welcome to Jersey, brother!”
Ahmed Mohamed, the legal director of CAIR’s New York chapter, congratulated the Jets and Saleh for what he called a “historic hiring in the National Football League.” He’s optimistic it’s a sign of increasing inclusion and recognition of the Muslim community.
“For all the Muslim youth who may be told they don’t belong or can’t do something because of how they pray, we hope that when they see Mr. Saleh on national television, they will say to themselves that anything is possible and will reach for the stars,” Mohamed said in an email to the AP. “We hope Mr. Saleh’s hiring opens the door for other American Muslims in sports.”
Saleh is believed to be the third Arab American to become a head coach in the NFL. He follows Abe Gibron, who led Chicago from 1972-74, and Rich Kotite, who coached the Eagles (1991-94) and Jets (1995-96) — both of whom also had Lebanese roots.
Saleh is also just the fourth active NFL head coach who is a minority, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.
“Robert Saleh has made history on the field and off,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted Friday night. “Now he’s knocking down barriers in our own backyard. Congrats, Coach!”
While Saleh’s focus will be on restoring the Jets to respectability and not necessarily being an inspiration, he has provided a path for others to someday follow.
“Any person in a new job, their first goal is going to be performance in their job,” Hooper said. “But I think a secondary consideration might be being an example to Muslim and Arab American youth around the country, that this kind of inclusion and respect for diversity is possible.
“But I don’t think he got the job because of his ethnic or religious background. He got this job because he’s good at what he does.”