Norwich City boss Chris Hughton hails Tottenham midfield masterclass

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen had an eye-catching debut in the 2-0 Premier League win over Norwich C

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen had an eye-catching debut in the 2-0 Premier League win over Norwich City. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Tottenham's mastery of midfield proved painful viewing for Norwich City boss Chris Hughton.

Gylfi Sigurdsson's match-winning brace owed much to the creative urgings of Paulinho and Danish debutant Christian Eriksen. The 21-year-old left a dominant imprint on a one-sided Premier League contest during a 70-minute cameo that was dripping with plenty of future promise.

'I've seen a lot of Eriksen and I think he is going to be a real star,' said Hughton. 'For a lad of 21 he must have something approaching 40 caps for his country and probably 150 league games for Ajax. He is almost an experienced player in that respect.

'You can talk about one player but Paulinho is not bad or when you throw in (Mousa) Dembele and Sigurdsson cutting in from wide areas that is a real tactical dilemma. (Andros) Townsend is another who has really come on and is one who is flourishing.

'It is difficult when you come up against a team like Tottenham with the movement they have got. We found it tough to get to grips with and it is difficult to stop a fair amount of that. If you press too high then they work around that one. If you sit too deep you invite them to have too much possession. You just hope that you have enough good periods of your own on the ball. We didn't on the day, but they have got some super players.'

Hughton struggled to put any positive gloss on a chastening return to his former club.

'We can have no complaints. We were beaten by a very, very good side,' he said. 'Particularly in that first half we needed to show more and strive for our own periods of possession on the ball. We didn't do that well enough. Tottenham are too good a side if you let them have the ball. They can hurt you if you give them that amount of possession.

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'I have to give us some credit for the way we defended over 90 minutes. At 1-0 we are certainly still in the game, but the second was a scrappy one.

'On the balance of play maybe they didn't have so many clear opportunities, but they definitely had a lot of ball in that final third and produced a lot of crosses. I'm disappointed we didn't give them a better game than we did.'

Hughton did feel a sense of grievance Tottenham's French international keeper Hugo Lloris' was yellow-card after clearly punching the ball outside his penalty area in the closing stages. Referee Lee Mason adjudged Lloris' aberration had not denied City a clear goalscoring opportunity, but Hughton felt there was enough parallels with Mark Bunn's dismissal at Sunderland last season to cast doubt on that decision.

'What I am sure of is the goalkeeper's intentions were to play the ball and he knew his momentum would take him out of the box. It is a clear handball,' he said. 'The referee then has to make decisions around that. For me it has to be intentional.

'My thoughts at the time were that he wasn't going to give a red card. I just had a feel. It wasn't a particularly good day for us in that respect as we had two players booked earlier in the game. We always endeavour to speak to the assessor on a regular basis after games and if we were to speak about the referee's performance it would be to them, but that was the only really contentious decision.'