Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino refused to conceal the importance of victory after his side boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four by brushing aside struggling Swansea.
Former Swans striker Fernando Llorente netted his first league goal for Spurs, despite appearing to be offside, while maximum points were sealed at a sodden Liberty Stadium by Dele Alli in the closing stages.
The win ensured Spurs leapfrogged north London rivals Arsenal into fifth place and they can close the gap on fourth-placed Liverpool to a solitary point by beating West Ham in their game in hand on Thursday.
“When you don’t kill games sometimes you pay and one thing can change everything so we were anxious to score the second,” said Pochettino. “It [Alli’s clinching strike] was late in the game but we felt happiness and the three points was massive.
“The first half was so difficult to play football. The weather was horrible but we dominated and tried to play football. We did enough to go in winning. Overall I think we were better and deserved the three points.”
Spurs were further heartened by the return of midfielder Victor Wanyama, who made his first appearance as a substitute since August after being sidelined with a knee injury.
“It’s important he’s back after a lot of months,” added Pochettino. “It gives us more options to play and he was very important for us last season.”
Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal, meanwhile, was buoyed by his team’s grit despite them failing to build on Saturday’s win at Watford. They remain bottom of the league, four points adrift of safety.
“What I’ve seen is that I have a team with character and quality,” he said. “They are brave and they fight for the points with discipline. I am a happy coach with my team. We can achieve points.”
Tottenham entered the clash on a 14-match unbeaten run against Swansea, but had failed to score against the Welsh outfit at Wembley earlier this season despite having 28 shots.
There were no such concerns here as Spurs surged into a 12th-minute lead and inevitably it was Llorente, who marked his first Premier League start for Spurs by powering home a header from Christian Eriksen’s inswinging free-kick.
There was an overriding sense of fluency during Tottenham’s first-half showing, albeit the visitors were unable to fashion many clear-cut chances, only for that to dissipate in the opening exchanges of the second period as Swansea retaliated.
Substitute Luciano Narsingh, Swansea’s match-winner against Watford, tested Hugo Lloris at his near post shortly after the hour mark, while defender Mike van der Hoorn’s deflected header struck the post.
But a leveller was not forthcoming –Swansea have failed to score in 12 of their 22 league games this term – and Alli settled matters late on at the second attempt, stabbing high into the net after being freed by a pass from substitute Harry Kane.