Tottenham passed a character test as they ended their three-match losing run with a hard-fought, 2-1 win at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Spurs had thrown away two second-half leads during their sequence of defeats -- against Watford and Inter Milan, respectively -- and had conceded four goals from set pieces in their previous three games. Sure enough, after taking the lead through a 42nd-minute Harry Kane penalty, they found themselves defending a series of free kicks and corners, with heavyweights Glenn Murray and Lewis Dunk attacking the ball as the rain poured down on the south coast.
But this time, the north Londoners survived and doubled their lead through substitute Erik Lamela, ensuring that Anthony Knockaert's strike was too little, too late.
Spurs showed more grit and determination when high balls came into their box, apart from one occasion when a Dunk goal was ruled out for offside, and there were some encouraging performances from some important players.
Left-back Danny Rose had his best game for some time, while Mousa Dembele controlled affairs confidently in midfield and Kane posed more of a threat than in recent outings.
Spurs still look short of their best in a creative sense. Despite having 79 percent of the first-half possession, they managed only one shot on target before being awarded their penalty when Murray blocked Kieran Trippier's free kick with his arm. They needed that gift.
It also appeared a little too easy for Brighton to create chances when they decided to abandon their defensive formation and look for an equaliser after the break. Spurs were again unable to kill a game they were leading and conceded needlessly late on. It could have finished 2-2 were it not for a late save.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Pochettino's team selection made sense, and although his attempt to combine the powers of Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min didn't really come off, the introduction of Lamela as the game became stretched certainly did.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Paulo Gazzaniga, 6 -- Making only his second appearance for the club, the Argentine made a crucial save when he denied Knockaert at close range with the score 1-0, even if the shot was straight at him. He could do little about Brighton's injury-time goal, but he looked a little unconvincing with high balls and would have faced criticism if Dunk's goal had stood.
DF Kieran Trippier, 5 -- Won the penalty with a free kick but struggled defensively. Brighton got some joy down his side and created their clearest second-half chance when Beram Kayal got in behind him and shrugged off his challenge before freeing Knockaert.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 7 -- Returned to the line-up and helped his side to victory, although Knockaert cut inside him a bit too easily before being denied by Gazzaniga.
DF Jan Vertonghen, 7 -- Made a couple of errors in the first half but defended strongly after the break, both at set pieces and in open play.
DF Danny Rose, 8 -- At fault for the late goal but looks fitter now and made an impact at both ends. The left-back created two good chances with low crosses, the second of them producing Lamela's goal, while he did well to stay with Knockaert and dispossess him when the Frenchman got through on goal at 1-0.
MF Eric Dier, 7 -- His physicality was an asset at set pieces, and it was his forward pass to Lamela that laid the foundation for the Argentine's goal.
MF Mousa Dembele, 8 -- Dominated in midfield. The Belgian used the ball well, repeatedly feeding it between the lines to his attacking team-mates. He protected it well, too, and was aggressive out of possession, covering the ground and making a number of tackles.
MF Son Heung-Min, 6 -- Had a few efforts on goal but found space hard to find. His replacement, Lamela, proved to be more dangerous.
MF Christian Eriksen, 6 -- Found it difficult to unpick a deep-lying and resolute Brighton rearguard but went close with a second-half shot.
MF Lucas Moura, 6 -- Like Son, the Brazilian got few opportunities to run at his opponents and use his pace to full effect. But he kept working and had a hand in the second goal, taking the ball from Lamela and passing it on to the overlapping Rose.
FW Harry Kane, 7 -- Typically clinical from the penalty spot and forced two saves from Mat Ryan late on, while making a bursting run down the right touchline in between. An encouraging display after some quiet outings.
MF Erik Lamela, 8 -- Replaced Son in the 68th minute and doubled Tottenham's lead eight minutes later after a scything run through midfield and a fine finish. His stock is rising after a second goal in three matches.
MF Dele Alli, NR -- Returned from injury with 12 minutes of normal time remaining.