LONDON: Harry Kane scored on his return from injury for Tottenham Hotspur but his side fell to a surprise 2-1 defeat at Burnley, which severely dented their Premier League title hopes on Saturday.
Ashley Barnes’ 83rd minute winner for Burnley extended their unbeaten run to eight games and moved them up to 13th place in the league and left Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino fuming at referee Mike Dean over a decision that led to the hosts’ first goal.
But for third-placed Spurs, who trail leaders Manchester City and Liverpool by five points, this may prove to be a loss that leaves them with too much ground to make up.
Burnley took the lead in the 57th minute at Turf Moor with a glancing header by striker Chris Wood from a Dwight McNeil corner, with Pochettino and his Tottenham players arguing that the ball had gone off a Burnley player and it should have been a goal kick.
But eight minutes later Kane, playing his first game since he suffered an ankle injury on Jan. 13, ran on to a quick throw-in from Danny Rose and slipped the ball past Tom Heaton.
At that stage, Tottenham looked poised to push on for a fifth successive league victory.
However, the Clarets, who have been in or around the relegation zone for most of the season, grabbed the winner though when substitute Johann Berg Gudmundsson found Barnes at the back post and the striker fired in his fourth goal in as many games.
It was a bitter blow for third placed Tottenham, who will be eight points off top spot if second placed Liverpool, currently level on points with City, win at Manchester United on Sunday.
In Friday night games, Watford scored five times in a Premier League game for the first time to belt Cardiff City 5-1 while Fulham lost 3-1 at West Ham United to edge closer to the drop.
Cardiff remain a point and a place above the relegation zone after Gerard Deulofeu scored his first hat-trick in England. The former Barcelona winger netted in the 18th minute before netting twice in two minutes around the hour-mark.
Troy Deeney then claimed his first league goals since the start of January either side of Sol Bamba’s consolation for Cardiff as Watford rose to seventh place.
Edging closer toward relegation, Fulham might not get the chance to benefit from video review when it finally arrives in the Premier League next season.
Fulham did see how necessary VAR will be in their loss at West Ham.
West Ham striker Javier Hernandez cancelled out Ryan Babel’s opener by jabbing the ball into the net with his left hand at the far post following a corner in the 29th minute.
“Now football is so fast and you have so many players in the box, for the referee it’s very difficult to watch everything, so VAR could be better,” Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri said. “It’s important in England to have VAR to help the referee.”
West Ham took the lead in the 40th minute when center back Issa Diop headed in another corner. Michail Antonio made certain of the win in stoppage time at the end of the game after he was set up by Marko Arnautovic.
Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham are ninth in the standings, while Fulham are eight points from safety with 11 games remaining.
“It will be a miracle,” Ranieri said. “But we must fight together. If you fight you have one chance, if you don’t you won’t.”
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2019