Tottenham simply 'perfect'

Dele Alli celebrating after scoring Tottenham's first goal against Manchester United on Sunday at White Hart Lane. Spurs won 3-0 for their first home victory over United in the league since a 3-1 success in May 2001.
Dele Alli celebrating after scoring Tottenham's first goal against Manchester United on Sunday at White Hart Lane. Spurs won 3-0 for their first home victory over United in the league since a 3-1 success in May 2001. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pochettino hails his players' display after three rapid-fire goals end United hoodoo

LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said that his side had produced the "perfect" second-half performance after a late rally saw them crush Manchester United 3-0 on Sunday.

From the 70th minute, Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela struck three times in less than six minutes at White Hart Lane to give Spurs a win that trimmed Premier League leaders Leicester City's advantage back to seven points.

It was Spurs' first home victory over United in the league since a 3-1 success in May 2001 and Pochettino could not hide his admiration for his players' display.

"The performance was perfect in the second half," he told Sky Sports.

"We are very pleased. Full credit to the players. It was a fantastic job. Beating Manchester United 3-0, you have to be happy.

"In the first half, both teams were fighting a lot and it was not clear who had the power to manage the game, but in the second half we dominated better and started to find space to create chances."

There were no shots on target before the half-time whistle. But Spurs ripped United's right flank apart in the second half.

Pochettino's players showed their quick thinking when Timothy Fosu-Mensah limped off with a knee injury after 65 minutes.

The Dutch full-back had proved a redoubtable barrier, but his departure opened the door for Spurs. Spurs poured down that flank as Matteo Darmian failed to settle in.

Christian Eriksen, found on the left by Harry Kane, crossed for Alli, who had timed his run to elude the sluggish Daley Blind and strike the ball past David de Gea. It was Alli's ninth goal in his 50th appearance of the season for club and country, on the eve of his 20th birthday.

When the hapless Darmian was then booked for a foul on Kane, Lamela lifted in the free kick, and Alderweireld rose above Marcos Rojo to steer his header past de Gea.

Darmian was then caught out again, as Danny Rose drilled in a cross that Lamela swept in.

Pochettino revealed that he missed Lamela's goal because he was in the toilet. But he is determined not to miss out on the title, even if, with five games of the season left, Leicester remain overwhelming favourites.

"We believe and still fight, the motivation is big and massive," said the Argentinian.

Kick-off was delayed by 30 minutes after the United team bus got stuck in traffic and the visitors' attempt to break into the Champions League places is also behind schedule as they now trail fourth-placed Manchester City by four points.

With United's loss, Leicester clinched a place in the Champions League for the first time.

"Every team can lose to everybody, so we are still in the race," insisted United manager Louis van Gaal, after watching his side muster just one shot on target.

"Of course when you lose a game you have to close the gap again and that is more difficult."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2016, with the headline 'Tottenham simply 'perfect''. Print Edition | Subscribe