Mauricio Pochettino was left purring after his Tottenham side passed a stern examination of their set-piece defending at Brighton.
Spurs’ shoddy play when defending dead-balls had been a large contributing factor to their three successive defeats, with four of the six goals they conceded in losses to Watford, Liverpool and Inter Milan coming in that fashion.
But they stood firm in shocking conditions on the south coast to earn a 2-1 win, coming through goals from Harry Kane and Erik Lamela, even if they did have to endure some nervy moments in their own penalty area.
“We played against Brighton who for me in the past few weeks are the best team in set-pieces,” Pochettino said. “They are so strong and they work so hard in that aspect.
“I think in the few days previous we worked less but we worked a lot on the video, rather than on the pitch. That showed that it’s all about mentality, be aggressive.
“I think the team were fantastic in the way they defended. Football is organisation. It’s translating the philosophy that you want, it’s mentality, it’s fight, it’s to be available always to give your best.
“The spirit was fantastic and that is what pleased me the most.”
The Argentinian was making just his second start for the club after Michel Vorm picked up an injury, but despite weather conditions that were more like January than September, he stood firm and impressed his boss.
“For me Paulo Gazzaniga was man of the match, he was fantastic, fantastic because the energy that translates to the team and I think his personality, his character,” his compatriot said.
“That is so difficult to play that way, and the condition of the pitch, the weather, windy, it was raining, I think for me he was man of the match.
“Maybe he didn’t make an unbelievable save, but I don’t know who was man of the match, but for me he deserved to be and I said well done to him on the pitch at the end, because the energy and feeling he translated to the team was very calm and relaxed.
“That is the message he sent. That is why I am so happy with him.”
He was robbed of a clean sheet by Anthony Knockaert’s last-gasp strike but the result might have been different had the Frenchman done better with an earlier chance.
His side were trailing 1-0 when he was played in on goal but he tried to be too intricate and shot straight at Gazzaniga.
“I thought it was the right thing to do but the keeper didn’t move – if I had gone either side it would probably have gone in.
“If I scored, it would have been a different game, I feel like we could have got something from the game.”