Alli, Kane on target as Spurs boost Champions League hopes

Published May 2, 2018
LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen (second R) heads at goal during the English Premier League match against Watford at Wembley Stadium.—AFP
LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen (second R) heads at goal during the English Premier League match against Watford at Wembley Stadium.—AFP

LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur’s England duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli fired them to a comfortable 2-0 win over mid-table Watford that cemented their place in the top four at Wembley on Monday.

The win put fourth-placed Spurs five points clear of Chelsea with three games remaining and within a point of Liverpool, who have two matches left, in the race for Champions League spots.

Tottenham took the lead after 16 minutes when Watford keeper Orestis Karnezis spilled a cross from Kieran Trippier and Christian Eriksen scooped the ball to Alli who had the simple task of stroking the ball home from near the penalty spot.

Kane put Spurs two goals ahead in the 48th when he tucked away a cross from the right by Trippier and they almost had a third when Jan Vertonghen hit the post with a late header.

“Maybe it wasn’t the greatest performance but the aim is to win... it will be a successful season if we finish in the top four. To be in the Champions League will be a massive thing,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told a news conference.

Tottenham have 71 points ahead of London rivals Chelsea on 66, both from 35 games, while third-placed Liverpool have 72 from 36. Liverpool play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Chelsea looked like they would not be qualifying for the Champions League after losing to Tottenham at home on April 1, but have won their last three games to stay in contention in fifth place.

“They were creeping up on our backs so now we can look forward,” Kane said. “It was important just to get the job done and ease that pressure.”

Although Spurs ran out comfortable winners against Watford in front of England manager Gareth Southgate, they had France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to thank for some fine first-half saves.

After taking the early lead through Alli, the home side were almost made to pay for a sloppy pass by Eric Dier after 26 minutes that was intercepted by Etienne Capoue who fed Andre Gray but his low drive was saved by the diving Lloris.

The Spurs keeper was called on again twice before halftime when he made a fine save to deny Richarlison and came rushing out of goal to make a well-timed tackle on Abdoulaye Doucoure.

“We conceded a few chances but Hugo Lloris showed fantastic skill and that’s why he’s one of the best keepers in the world,” added Pochettino whose side kept a clean sheet for the first time in six league games thanks mainly to the France international.

Tottenham, whose play had been untidy at times in the opening period, tightened up after the break and it was their talisman Kane who eased any remaining jitters with his 27th league goal of the season behind Liverpool’s Mo Salah on 31.

Overhauling Salah looks a tough job, but Kane finished last season with eight goals in his final three games and he is hoping for a repeat, despite looking sluggish in recent performances.

“I would have liked to play better over the last few games but the whole team would have liked to do that,” Kane said. “I feel good, I feel sharp. I probably could have scored a couple more today. I’m looking forward to the last three games.

“Last year was an unbelievable end, but we’ll see what happens. In my mind, I’m just trying to get to that 30-goal mark.”

Current standings

(Tabulated under played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, total):

Manchester City 35 30 3 2 102 26 93

Manchester United 35 24 5 6 67 27 77

Liverpool 36 20 12 4 80 37 72

Tottenham Hotspur 35 21 8 6 68 31 71

Chelsea 35 20 6 9 60 34 66

Arsenal 35 17 6 12 67 48 57

Burnley 36 14 12 10 35 32 54

Everton 36 13 9 14 42 54 48

Leicester City 35 11 11 13 49 52 44

Newcastle United 35 11 8 16 35 44 41

Crystal Palace 36 9 11 16 41 54 38

AFC Bournemouth 36 9 11 16 42 60 38

Watford 36 10 8 18 42 62 38

Brighton Hove 35 8 13 14 32 47 37

West Ham United 35 8 11 16 43 67 35

Huddersfield Town 35 9 8 18 27 56 35

Swansea City 35 8 9 18 27 52 33

Southampton 35 6 14 15 35 54 32

Stoke City 36 6 12 18 32 65 30

West Bromwich 36 5 13 18 30 54 28

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2018

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