Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Leicester City
HARRY KANE bagged a brace as Spurs saw off Leicester inside the opening period, enhancing their ambitions of securing a top-six finish
In the great scheme of things, this was of huge significance to both sides. Spurs – beginning to find some consistency under Jose Mourinho – sort the solace of Europa League spot – salvaging an otherwise disappointing campaign, while the Foxes’ continued their assault on a top-four finish, again providing ample evidence of their progress under Brendan Rogers.
Despite the infinite condemnation, the fact remains that Spurs would now hold a place in the top-four, had the league begun when Mourinho took charge: “The numbers, they tell a lot,” the Portuguese chief explained.
“We would be in a Champions League position. The numbers tell us clearly. I don’t believe next season we are going to have similar problems to this season.
“I think that’s impossible. To have these positive feelings about the way the team is playing, the way the team is competing, is also very important, to transfer something that you bring from this season into the beginning of next season.
“So, yes, I’m very optimistic for next season, and I think the players are too. But, we’ve two matches to play and two matches to win if we want to qualify for Europe.”
And it was the Lilywhites who made a swift breakthrough. Heung-Min Son’s right-footed effort deflected wickedly off James Justin, completely wrong-footing Kasper Schmeichel in the Foxes goal. The perfect start from Mourinho and his charges.
Leicester were beaten 4-1 at Bournemouth on their last venture away from the King Power Stadium, and the proverbial ‘wounded animal’ quickly looked to make amends – Jamis Vardy twice blocked as the usually potent frontman sort after an equaliser.
Indeed, Leicester was enjoying the better of the contest. Ayoze Pérez could only look on as Hugo Lloris clawed away his speculative attempt. Meanwhile, Schmeichel displayed great agility to deny Son and Spurs a second. But Tottenham were to strike next. Harry Kane drilled a low, across Schmeichel and just inside the far post – a familiar outcome – the managers’ style justified.
This was ruthless stuff from Tottenham and within four minutes they’d added a third. Kane found himself in a similar position – this time the finish all the more emphatic – Leicester all of a sudden facing a damage limitation exercise.
Kane’s quest for the match ball was thwarted by Justin, while Lloris flicked over Demarai Gray’s fizzing dead-ball effort as opportunities were exchanged after the restart. But again, Spurs were content to concede ground, confident that their ‘safety in numbers’ policy offered security to their ample advantage.
Lloris sprung to his right, keeping out Kelechi Iheanacho fierce late effort. But in truth, Leicester’s toil never looked anywhere near capable of breaching Tottenham’s new-found resolve.
Tottenham Hotspur completes their Premier League campaign on Sunday, July 27 when they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park (4pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Serge Aurier, Davinson Sánchez, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Davies, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks (Oliver Skipp 90+2’), Giovani Lo Celso (Erik Lamela 78’), Lucas Moura (Steven Bergwijn 78’), Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son (Gedson Fernandes 89’) Subs not used: Jan Vertonghen, Ryan Sessegnon, Juan Foyth, Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Japhet Tanganga
Booked: Lucas Moura (foul), Davinson Sánchez (foul)
Goals: James Justin (own-goal) 6’, Harry Kane 36. 40’
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Ryan Bennett (Demarai Gray 46’), Wes Morgan, Jonny Evans, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi (Nampalys Mendy 70’), Youri Tielemans (Dennis Praet 70’), Luke Thomas, Ayoze Pérez (Kelechi Iheanacho 59’), Jamie Vardy, Harvey Barnes (George Hirst 83’) Subs not used: Danny Ward (GK), Hamza Choudhury, Matt James, Darnell Johnson
Booked: Jonny Evans (foul)
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn
Fourth Official: Graham Scott