DON’T make Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham angry.
Though pretty much everyone, barring their opponents, would like them when they’re angry, given how thrilling a watch this turned out to be. Wind-up merchant Neal Maupay had incensed the Aussie’s Spurs team by cheekily nicking James Maddison’s dart-throwing routine to celebrate his surprise opener.
The Frenchman, along with his Bees team-mates and their time-wasting antics, proceeded to frustrate the life out of the home side and their fans as they took a 1-0 lead into the break.
Postecoglou acted swiftly by making two half-time subs – and his pumped-up side came out seeking vengeance in the second period. Retribution came in double-quick time as, first, attacking full-back Destiny Udogie blasted in a leveller.
Then, one minute and 12 seconds later, subtapped home Timo Werner’s cross to complete the turnaround. He celebrated it by throwing imaginary , as did Richarlison when the Brazilian made it 3-1 seven minutes later, to give Maupay and Co a taste of their own medicine.
Honestly, you had not seen so much arrows-related needle since Theand Barney had a shoving match in the 2013 World semi-final. It made for great entertainment for all those in attendance, which included boss Gareth Southgate.
And there was more madcap action to come as Udogie somehow slipped while attempting a passback, giving it straight towho made it two goals in as many games since returning from his eight-month ban.
Southgate witnessed Maddison’s first start since damaging ankle ligaments in that bonkers 4-1 home defeat to Chelsea on November 6.
You remember the one, where Spurs went down to nine men but still kept on attacking. Maddison showed straight away what his side had been missing with his grace and composure on the ball.
But it was Brentford who carried the most threat in the first half and after Mads Roerslev had a goal ruled out for offside, they took a shock lead with 15 minutes played.
Toney hared into the box and fired across, who could only parry it into Maupay’s path.
The ex-Brighton man bundled the loose ball home, via a deflection off, before chucking those make-believe arrows with Toney right in front of the incensed home fans.
Maddison appeared to let him know what he thought about it later in the half as the pair exchanged words. Maupay has made a career of being a nuisance up top and he appeared to be winding up anyone and everyone with a Spurs loyalty inside the ground with his antics.
At one point,showed he had enough of it as he angrily shoved the Frenchman to the floor, earning both players bookings. Brentford were slowing the game down at every opportunity and it was working.
Postecoglou knew he had to act and did so by introducing Johnson and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at the break.
The tempo went up dramatically and within three minutes Spurs were level as Udogie motored up the pitch, exchanged passes with Werner, had a shot blocked and then fired home the rebound.
Frank’s men barely had time to react when it was 2-1, just 72 seconds later, as Werner ran down the left wing and put the ball on a plate for a grateful Johnson to tap home.
The 22-year-old – who Brentford tried to buy fromin the before he eventually joined Spurs on day – gave it back to the opponents with his celebration. But the £47.5million buy will also have known just how much he needed that goal, from a personal perspective, after a ropey few weeks.
Richarlison then hit his seventh goal in as many league games – continuing his turnaround in form under Postecoglou – as he snaffled up Maddison’s blocked shot and then did the darts too. This being Postecoglou’s Spurs, the thrill-ride was not over as Toney rattled in after Udogie’s gaffe.
Spurs survived a late scare – thanks to Vicario denying Shandon Baptiste – to move into the top four, hoping some late discomfort to returning hero Maddison was just cramp.