LONDON (Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte praised his side’s ability to “find solutions” as they overcame a resolute Everton for a 2-0 win in the Premier League on Saturday.
A second-half penalty by Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s late effort sealed the points that took Tottenham to 23 points from their opening 10 league games.
It is Tottenham’s best ever points haul after 10 games of a Premier League campaign and they moved to within a point of leaders Arsenal, who play on Sunday.
Yet Spurs have laboured at times this season and were doing so again against Everton until goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s foul on Kane allowed the striker to break the deadlock.
Conte, who racked up his 100th win in English football, showed his tactical nous by tweaking Tottenham’s system when their former Everton forward Richarlison hobbled off early in the second half with the score at 0-0.
The Italian opted to send on an extra midfielder in Yves Bissouma and his decision proved pivotal as Spurs began to dominate the centre of the pitch.
It was the kind of decision with which top managers earn their corn, but Conte preferred to praise his players.
“Despite the difficulty of the game, we are talking about a good opponent and despite the injuries we were able to solve the situation,” Conte said. “That means the players are growing in many aspects. I am very proud of the players.
“(The injury) could have created something negative but we found a right solution to the game. I liked our attitude.”
The one sour note for Tottenham was that injury to Richarlison which will keep him out of the midweek league trip to Manchester United.
“Yeah for sure he’s out against Manchester United. He felt something in his calf and he won’t be available for that game,” Conte told reporters.
“I think he needs a bit of time to recover. It’s a pity because we are talking about a player who gives us a lot of quality but who is also strong and improves our intensity.”
Everton’s record against Tottenham now stands at one win in their last 20 Premier League matches versus the London club.
But things could have been different had Demarai Gray and Amadou Onana not wasted great chances in the opening period.
“In the first half we were really disciplined, didn’t give Spurs the spaces they wanted. We had two great chances and they can be the difference in these games,” Everton manager Frank Lampard said.
“If you take one of these chances you probably don’t lose tonight. There’s no doubt we came out in the second half slightly off it. The penalty is the difference in the game — I thought until then everything we were doing was good.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)