Potters end Tottenham's Champions League hopes with emphatic win
Published 09/05/2015 | 17:14
Tottenham's Champions League hopes were extinguished in the most embarrassing fashion as they suffered their heaviest defeat to Stoke in 80 years.
Charlie Adam rammed the abuse he received from the travelling fans right back down their throats with a close range header and Steven Nzonzi made it 2-0 before Vlad Chiriches was sent off for a second yellow card.
And Mame Diouf rounded off the very one-sided 3-0 hammering late on.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino will not be looking forward to watching replays of the three goals his team gave away.
They all came as a result of defensive lapses.
Jan Vertonghen nodded the ball right into Adam's path for his goal and a mix-up between Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier meant Nzonzi had the easiest of finishes to round off the win, which means Stoke have equalled last year's total of 50 points with two matches left.
That Stoke are just eight points behind Spurs shows how much the Londoners' form has tailed off towards the end of a long and tiring season. They were simply dreadful at the Britannia Stadium - they were shaky at the back and lacked invention in attack.
They are now mathematically out of the race for the Champions League and a fifth successive season in the Europa League beckons.
In the warm-up the travelling Spurs fans made Adam aware they had not forgotten that he injured Paulinho and former Spurs winger Gareth Bale on two occasions.
Adam had to get used to the abuse early on as he took three corners in front of the way fans in the opening five minutes.
His third corner was cleared to Marc Muniesa, who fired a volley towards goal but Lloris tipped over.
The away fans then gave their support to their old hero Jimmy Greaves, who is recovering from a severe stroke in hospital.
On the pitch, their current star striker Harry Kane drilled a low shot at Jack Butland.
That was the only early chance of note for the visitors. Stoke dominated the game and looked far more threatening, mainly thanks to the nervous Spurs defence.
Dier and Vertonghen - in at left-back for the injured Danny Rose - looked unsure out wide and Chiriches, making just his eighth league start of the season, entered the book for pulling back Jon Walters as he sped away down the right.
The Romanian made amends by clearing the ball moments later after Lloris had spilled Marko Arnautovic's long-range shot.
Federico Fazio had to scramble back to deny the winger after giving the ball away in a dangerous position.
Vertonghen then made an error - but this time it proved costly. He accidentally flicked Diouf's cross into Adam's path and he nodded in from two yards. The Scot cupped his ear as he ran in front of the Spurs fans to celebrate.
Spurs came close to equalising when Muniesa headed Erik Lamela's free-kick on to his own bar, but the Londoners were soon 2-0 down after another defensive calamity.
This time Dier wiped out Lloris as he came for Adam's cross and Nzonzi rolled the ball into the empty net.
Spurs were all over the place at the back. Had Arnautovic and Diouf taken their chances, it could have been worse before half-time.
When Chiriches was dismissed for barging Diouf off the ball after the restart, it was hard to judge whether it was bad news or good for the visitors.
Either the way, the poor Romanian was off and Vertonghen moved to centre-back, with Nabil Bentaleb dropping into left-back.
Stoke sought to press home their numerical advantage and Lloris tipped a curling shot from Adam around the post.
Roberto Soldado and Mousa Dembele came on for Spurs, but they made no impact. Stoke still dominated and they were playing some fantastic free-flowing football.
One such move allowed Ryan Shawcross to square for Walters, but he shot straight at Lloris.
But Diouf had no such trouble, tapping in Arnautovic's late cross to round off a miserable day for Spurs.