Impressive Spurs turn on heat

South Korea international Son Heung Min side-footing home his second goal and Tottenham's fourth in the 54th minute to complete the rout of Watford. The second- placed team's sixth straight league victory took them to 68 points from 31 games.
South Korea international Son Heung Min side-footing home his second goal and Tottenham's fourth in the 54th minute to complete the rout of Watford. The second- placed team's sixth straight league victory took them to 68 points from 31 games.PHOTO: REUTERS

Son's double, strikes by Alli and Dier ensure they are ready to take advantage should Chelsea slip up

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Tottenham Hotspur 4 Watford 0


LONDON • Tottenham Hotspur's traditional, daring swagger is intact. But is it too late?

They may be only on the edge of greatness but a tenacious presence behind Chelsea - the gap at the top of the Premier League reduced at least for a few hours to four points - is still sufficient to keep the Premier League title race alive.

Although Watford started brightly at White Hart Lane yesterday, once Dele Alli drove home the 33rd-minute opener, Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was able to enjoy a fine afternoon.

Additional, lovely strikes by Eric Dier and a double from the quite outstanding Son Heung Min ended the contest 4-0 with relative ease.

Perhaps the deficit will not be bridged, with only seven games remaining, but another three precious points against an under-strength Watford keep this Tottenham surge on track with increasing fascination.

Chelsea were set to kick off at Bournemouth later (12.30am Singapore time), mindful of their lead having been clipped to four points - arguably leaving potential for Spurs, and possibly some concern for Blues manager Antonio Conte.

As Tottenham aimed to take advantage of the early kick-off, Harry Kane was in contention for a starting place after a near-miraculous recovery from ankle ligament damage.

But Pochettino opted to keep the striker on the bench, with Vincent Janssen up front charged to deliver the required potency.

Hugo Lloris, the captain, was back in goal, but Victor Wanyama had to settle for a substitute berth because of doubts over a back injury.

Janssen has struggled to make his mark since arriving in a £17 million (S$29.6 million) move from AZ Alkmaar and it quickly became clear his luck was not about to change.

The Dutchman squandered three good first-half chances before Alli finally set Spurs on their way. The midfielder capped a sweeping move with an outstanding finish.

The second goal came six minutes later, when Eric Dier latched on to a loose ball after Son's shot had been blocked and powered a half-volley past Heurelho Gomes from the edge of the area.

Just before the break, Son clipped in a wonderful third goal to extinguish Watford's hopes.

Christian Eriksen deftly supplied the South Korean playmaker before Son swept home brilliantly with his left foot from 20 metres.

If the three first-half goals had a high-class hallmark, so did the fourth as Pochettino's men began the second half in a similar brisk manner. Son made a side-footed finish from 10m look easy, from Kieran Trippier's winding cross from the right, with Eriksen starting the move.

With Spurs cruising now, there was time to introduce Kane, the 24-goal sorcerer replacing Janssen.

Watford looked like a team disjointed long before the end - while Spurs could have added another with Son unlucky not to net a hat-trick, lifting an angled 83rd-minute volley against the bar.

A confident Kane did likewise with the last kick, from a rangy set piece.

Pochettino knows his men have done all they can for now. "Many things impressed me, we played really well," he said. "We played with good energy and we were very clear in the way in which we tried to win. The team deserve full credit because the energy was fantastic.

"We're second and the gap now is four but Chelsea have one game more to play. We will try to win and be ready for Chelsea."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'Impressive Spurs turn on heat'. Print Edition | Subscribe