LONDON: Second-placed Tottenham Hotspur kept up the distant chase of Premier League leaders Chelsea with a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Southampton to cut the gap to 10 points on Sunday.
Tottenham coped well without injured 19-goal striker Harry Kane with Christian Eriksen’s superb 14th-minute shot putting them ahead before Dele Alli stroked home a first-half penalty.
James Ward-Prowse pulled a goal back after the break but Tottenham held on for a 10th successive home league victory -- their longest run since they won 14 in a row in 1987.
Tottenham’s 59 points is their best performance after 28 games of a top-flight season since they won the league and FA Cup double in 1960-61.
Impressive as they are, Tottenham’s hopes of reeling in Chelsea look slim although they are seven points above fifth-placed Manchester United and nine ahead of bitter north London rivals Arsenal in the battle for a top-four finish.
“I think it was a great opportunity today,” manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters. “Yes, you will always miss your main striker but what we can do if he is injured is to win the game and score goals. [It] was fantastic to keep our place in the table.”
Earlier, Marouane Fellaini scored his first Premier League goal for 15 months as Manchester United extended their unbeaten run to 18 league games with a 3-1 victory at relegation-threatened Middlesbrough.
Fellaini headed United in front after almost half an hour’s play and Jesse Lingard scored the second just after the hour mark from 20 metres.
Middlesbrough, who fired manager Aitor Karanka on Thursday, dominated the final half-hour and reduced the deficit in the 77th when Gestede took advantage of defensive errors to score from close range.
United held out despite late pressure and added a third in the third minute of injury time when Middlesbrough goalkeeper Victor Valdes a former United player slipped as he was about to make a clearance, allowing Antonio Valencia to walk the ball into the net.
“The game was tough,” Fellaini said. “They pushed and played long balls and are physical. We did it. We did well.”
CHELSEA MARCH ON
Chelsea continued their seemingly irresistible surge towards regaining the title as a late Gary Cahill goal saw them snatch a 2-1 win at Stoke City on Saturday.
After Willian’s free kick put Chelsea ahead, Jonathan Walters equalised from the penalty spot after being nudged by Cahill.
The England defender made amends in the 87th minute with a deserved winner as he smashed in from Cesc Fabregas’s free-kick before Stoke’s Phil Bardsley was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.
Basement club Sunderland were held 0-0 at home to poor travellers Burnley, while third-bottom Hull City were trounced 4-0 by Everton, for whom league-leading scorer Romelu Lukaku scored twice in added time, taking his season’s tally to 21.
Lukaku also set up Everton’s second goal from Enner Valencia after 20-year-old Dominic Calvert-Lewin put the hosts in front on only his sixth league appearance.
Leicester City’s remarkable resurgence under new manager Craig Shakespeare continued with a fourth successive win under his stewardship since Claudio Ranieri’s sacking.
The champions won 3-2 at West Ham United with first-half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy for their first league success away from home all season.
Like Leicester, Crystal Palace eased their worries with a third straight win, 1-0 at home to Watford through Troy Deeney’s own goal, suggesting master escapologist Sam Allardyce can maintain his record of never suffering a Premier League relegation.
After Swansea City’s recent revival under Paul Clement was checked with a 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth in the late game, the bottom five teams are now Sunderland on 20 points, Middlesbrough 22, Hull 24, Swansea 27 and Palace 28.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017