Micky van de Ven’s first goal in English football fired 10-man Tottenham to the Premier League summit with a 1-0 win at Luton.
Spurs entered this fixture following a controversial 2-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend, where Jurgen Klopp’s side were denied a legitimate goal due to a “significant human error” by VAR operator Darren England.
It meant three points for Ange Postecoglou’s team at Kenilworth Road would send them to the summit for at least 24 hours, but they had to work hard for it after Yves Bissouma was sent off in first-half stoppage-time.
Bissouma was booked twice in quick succession by referee John Brooks, the second for simulation, but Van de Ven’s close-range finish in the 52nd minute earned Tottenham a hard-fought win.
This was the first meeting between the clubs since 1992 and the hostile atmosphere was a throwback to that era with even TNT pundits Rio Ferdinand and Peter Crouch booed ahead of kick-off.
Spurs had put seven goals past the other newly-promoted teams this season and should have added to that tally inside 10 minutes.
Richarlison was guilty of fluffing his lines twice, firing off target via his shin with the goal at his mercy from Dejan Kulusevski’s third-minute cross before Thomas Kaminski denied the Brazilian with his feet after James Maddison’s slick through ball 60 seconds later.
Pedro Porro was next to squander an excellent opportunity when Son Heung-min played him through and he fired wide. The Tottenham captain also curled into the stand before Luton started to settle.
Huge cheers greeted the Hatters’ first corner in the 25th minute, although top goalscorer Carlton Morris could only send his header off target following Alfie Doughty’s delivery.
The visitors remained a threat and a driving run by Pape Sarr set up Kulusevski, but Kaminski produced an excellent fingertip save to parry the 18-yard curler wide.
Luton had the ball in the net after 39 minutes but it was immediately ruled out and a VAR check showed Elijah Adebayo had shoved Cristian Romero.
Doughty’s free-kick dropped for Adebayo, who after pushing Romero flicked over Guglielmo Vicario and onto the post where Lockyer headed in, only for it to be disallowed.
The free-kick came from a Bissouma foul on Chiedozie Ogbene and referee Brooks booked the Tottenham midfielder for a professional foul.
A second yellow card followed in first-half stoppage time for simulation when Bissouma went down under close proximity from Marvelous Nakamba, but there was no contact and Brooks correctly sent off the visiting player.
Luton should have taken the lead two minutes after half-time when Ogbene held off Destiny Udogie and crossed in for Adebayo, but he could not steer his effort on target.
The hosts were hit with a sucker-punch in the 52nd minute when Van de Ven opened his account for Tottenham.
After a number of corners in quick succession, it proved third time lucky for Postecoglou’s side when Maddison collected Kulusevski’s short corner and brilliantly spun away from Doughty before he cut back for Van de Ven to slot home from six yards.
It briefly silenced the partisan Kenilworth Road crowd but they were soon roaring their team on and Doughty dragged wide soon after the opener.
Morris tested Vicario minutes later and, although Porro sent an effort just past the post for Tottenham in the 62nd minute, Luton started to build momentum.
Jacob Brown headed over before substitute Cauley Woodrow had a weak shot saved.
A deflected effort wide by Doughty was the final warning sign for Postecoglou, who introduced Emerson Royal and Oliver Skipp for Son and Maddison with 14 minutes left but Spurs held on to go top.