LONDON: Harry Kane struck twice as Tottenham Hotspur kept their Premier League top four hopes very much alive with a 3-0 demolition of Arsenal in a rambunctious north London derby on Thursday.
Victory for Arsenal at the home of their arch-rivals would have secured their first top-four finish since 2016 and a Champions League place, but they suffered a dismal night.
Kane opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 22nd before Arsenal had Rob Holding sent off for a second yellow card 10 minutes later, both for clumsy fouls on Son Heung-min.
Kane’s diving header made it 2-0 in the 37th minute to send Tottenham’s fans into delirium.
The volume went up another notch immediately after halftime when Son fired a shot past Aaron Ramsdale for his 21st league goal of the season to kill off any hope of an Arsenal fightback.
Tottenham could even have won by more yet despite the celebrations from the home fans they remain fifth and Arsenal are still in the driving seat in the battle for fourth place.
But the gap between them is now only one point with both sides having two games remaining and Tottenham also boast a far superior goal difference.
“We still have two games to go and we have put the pressure on them. We have to focus on ourselves. We play early on Sunday so we need to get a result and see what happens,” Kane, who extended his record goal tally in the north London derby to 13 in 17 games, told Sky Sports.
“We can only control our games. We did our job tonight. We won’t get ahead of ourselves. Tonight was special but our ultimate goal is to get fourth place and we still have work to do.”
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta was furious with both the penalty and red card and launched a scathing attack on referee Paul Tierney.
“If I say what I think I’m suspended for six months. I don’t know how to lie so I prefer not to say what I think,” he said.
“I cannot give my opinion. I think you can read my body language very clearly. I’m not unhappy with my players. I’m proud of my players.
“I want the referees to come in front of the camera and explain his decisions. It’s a shame because such a beautiful game was destroyed today.”
Arsenal face Newcastle United away and Everton at home while Tottenham host Burnley and finish at relegated Norwich City.
With so much riding on the derby and the atmosphere electric, the opening exchanges were unsurprisingly frenetic with neither side able to settle into any kind of rhythm.
But that all changed when Cedric Soares collided with Son as they contested Dejan Kulusevski’s cross in the six-yard box and the contact was enough to convince Tierney to award a penalty.
Arsenal surrounded Tierney to complain angrily, but Kane stepped up to send Aaron Ramsdale the wrong way with a nerveless spot-kick.
Arsenal were shell-shocked and the game shifted decisively in Tottenham’s favour in the 33rd minute.
Eric Dier’s long pass targeted Son and Holding crudely blocked his path with his shoulder, a needless offence that prompted Tierney to send off the defender for his second booking.
Scenting blood, Tottenham doubled their lead four minutes after Holding’s premature exit.
Rodrigo Bentancur flicked on a corner and Kane stooped to head home from virtually on the line.
Eddie Nketiah nearly gave Arsenal a lifeline before halftime when his curled effort forced Hugo Lloris to tip over.
But Arsenal could not cope with Son and Kane. The second half had barely begun when Kane tried to wriggle through and the ball broke for Son to calmly find the corner.
Ramsdale made a superb save to keep out Emerson Royal’s header and Son missed an open goal before being substituted to a rapturous ovation from the Tottenham fans.
Martin Odegaard forced Lloris into a fine save late on but by that time most of the Arsenal fans had seen enough and were on their way home.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022