No slips from Spurs as they emphatically sink Stoke to eat into Leicester's lead
Published 18/04/2016 | 22:06
Tottenham cut Leicester's lead at the Barclays Premier League summit to five points as two goals each from Harry Kane and Dele Alli secured a win at Stoke which was as comprehensive as it was timely.
Sunday's fractious draw with West Ham saw Claudio Ranieri's men drop points for the first time since March 1 and Mauricio Pochettino's men capitalised in style at the Britannia Stadium.
Making light work of the pressure and scrutiny, Kane and Alli each netted a brace as Spurs despatched of Europa League hopefuls Stoke 4-0.
"Leicester City, we're coming for you" bellowed the raucous travelling support after Kane's ninth-minute opener, which Christian Eriksen came close to adding to as half-time approached with a strike that rattled the crossbar.
Alli's exceptional flick put the Danish playmaker through and the roles reversed in the 67th minute when the England midfielder collected a stunning pass and coolly lifted the ball over Shay Given.
Kane ensured Alli's miss-of-the-season contender moments later mattered little by slotting home Spurs' third, taking his tally for the season to 24 - one more than rudderless Aston Villa have managed this term.
Alli volleyed home an exceptional fourth late on as Tottenham produced a display which shows Leicester they would be pushed to the end.
It was a result that looked likely from the outset as Given, making his first Premier League start for the club, just two days before he turned 40, prevented Kane turning home a threaded Erik Lamela pass.
The in-form striker would only be denied for a matter of minutes, though. Linking up with Mousa Dembele and collecting the ball on the edge of the box, Kane cut inside and bent home superbly to the delight of the 2,849 travelling fans.
It capped an impressive start by Spurs that Alli was doing his utmost to add to, having an effort blocked, charging down a clearance and firing over from an acute angle in quick succession.
Stoke soon began to up their game but Toby Alderweireld was marshalling the defence impressively, with a fierce Marko Arnautovic strike the first to get through to Hugo Lloris.
The Austria international nodded wide and Bojan fired over before focus turned to referee Neil Swarbrick - replacement for Kevin Friend due to his allegiance to Leicester - during a scrappy period in which Glenn Whelan and Dembele somehow avoided bookings.
Spurs regrouped when play became more fluid, with Kane's fine cross evading Lamela before Dembele came close with a fizzing strike from distance.
Pochettino's men upped the ante as half-time approached and Lamela passed to Alli, whose superb flick put Eriksen through and the Danish playmaker struck the crossbar.
Alli had an effort blocked and Kane struck across the face of goal before the half-time whistle gave Stoke some welcome respite.
Ibrahim Afellay and Arnautovic failed with attempts to level the score early in the second half, which was nine minutes old when Alli blazed over after Eriksen intelligently cushioned the ball.
Lamela saw a near-post effort denied and Alderweireld had penalty appeals ignored after going down under pressure from Ryan Shawcross.
However, Spurs would soon get the goal that gave them breathing space as Eriksen showed wonderful vision to find Alli, with the midfielder showing composure and skill to lift the ball over Given.
Pochettino punched the deck in anger when Alli next went through as composure turned into complacency, rounding the goalkeeper only to strike the post.
That was soon forgotten, though, as Stoke's complaints for offside were rightly ignored and Lamela squared for Kane to direct home.
Mark Hughes' side were now being completely outplayed and things got even worse for them in the 82nd minute, with Eriksen's cross met by an exceptional Alli volley.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"Spurs fans singing "Leicester City, we're coming for you." Just beautiful to hear Leicester mentioned in such a song." - Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) has a foot in both camps having played for the two sides.
Shay Given: 5 (out of 10)
Geoff Cameron: 5
Ryan Shawcross: 5
Philipp Wollscheid: 5
Marc Muniesa: 5
Glenn Whelan: 5
Giannelli Imbula: 5
Xherdan Shaqiri: 5
Marko Arnautovic: 6
Ibrahim Afellay: 6
Bojan Krkic: 5
Joselu (for Shaqiri, 46): 5
Charlie Adam (for Whelan, 76): 5
Hugo Lloris: 6
Kyle Walker: 7
Toby Alderweireld: 8
Jan Vertonghen: 7
Danny Rose: 7
Eric Dier: 7
Mousa Dembele: 8
Erik Lamela: 7
Christian Eriksen: 8
Dele Alli: 8
Harry Kane: 8
Nacer Chadli (for Alli, 84): 6
Ryan Mason (for Dembele, 87): 6
Son Heung-min (for Lamela, 90): 6
Dele Alli. Just beats Harry Kane to the honour on an occasion when so many Tottenham men shone. Only shame was that he did not end up with a hat-trick, as his shot against the post really should have been another goal.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Harry Kane's opener. All four goals were top-quality, but the first, Kane's delightful curling strike, was probably the pick.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
Danny Rose was booed by Stoke fans throughout the match because of an incident that happened during his loan spell in 2012. Ladies and gentlemen, let it go.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino named an unchanged side at the Britannia Stadium and the result tells you it worked. Mousa Dembele, Alli and Christian Eriksen were exceptional in midfield, with Kane leading the line with aplomb. Toby Alderweireld showed just why so many thought he should have been on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist, while Stoke disappointed once again. Potters manager Mark Hughes made four changes for this match, there could be similar next time.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
Manchester City v Stoke (Barclays Premier League, Saturday, April 23)
Tottenham v West Brom (Barclays Premier League, Monday, April 25)
Harry Kane has warned Leicester that Spurs will ensure it is a nervy end to the season.
"What a performance by everyone," he told Sky Sports 1.
"Stoke is a tough place to come, we knew that. To win 4-0 in the manner that we did just shows what kind of team we are.
"We're not going anywhere. We're on their tails and we've just got to keep doing what we're doing."
Mauricio Pochettino added: "I'm very pleased with the performance of our players. They deserve full credit.
"We're still fighting. Our dream is to fight and put pressure on Leicester. That was fantastic today, the performance.
"Maybe today is one of the performances that you feel more proud of because of the character to play with the pressure of trying to catch Leicester."
Stoke boss Mark Hughes admitted the Potters were beaten by the better side.
"You have to acknowledge the position Tottenham are in, and you can understand why because they were an outstanding team tonight," he said.
"They were a little bit quicker to everything, a little bit more powerful and had a little bit more ability in key areas of the field. In the end we found it difficult to cope with the threats they had.
"I'm disappointed with what we produced. Defensively we were a million miles away from where we should have been and good teams will pick you off."