Tuesday 11 December 2018

Tottenham overcome nerves to secure Champions League place

Harry Kane got the only goal as they beat Newcastle 1-0.

Harry Kane's goal booked a Champions League place for Tottenham
Harry Kane's goal booked a Champions League place for Tottenham

By Jonathan Veal, Press Association Sport

Tottenham overcame a nervy night at Wembley to book their Champions League place for next season with a 1-0 win over Newcastle.

Harry Kane’s 50th-minute goal, his 28th of the Premier League season, was enough for Spurs after Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Huddersfield.

That means, with one game to play, Mauricio Pochettino’s men are third and four points clear of their London rivals, sealing a third successive year in Europe’s elite club competition.

It is a particularly impressive achievement this year, given the spending power of the other big six teams, but it did not come without tension at Wembley on a night when Newcastle gave them a fright.

Jonjo Shelvey hit the post in the first half while they missed good chances throughout.

One man who does know where the back of the net is, though, is Kane and while he may miss out on the Golden Boot his strike helped seal a much bigger prize for his side.

Spurs have been somewhat stumbling towards the line in recent weeks and if their nerves were jangling beforehand then they were tested to the limit once the action got under way as they were inches away from falling behind in the 14th minute.

A clumsy foul by Moussa Sissoko presented Shelvey with an inviting opportunity 20 yards out in the middle of goal and his free-kick had Hugo Lloris beaten but crashed against the post and went wide.

Newcastle, with nothing left to play for, were anywhere but on the beach and Lloris was called into action soon after when he made a flying save from Jamaal Lascelles’ header while Dwight Gayle was guilty of putting a free header over the crossbar.

The visitors continued to look dangerous but Tottenham found themselves with a fine chance to open the scoring, but Kane uncharacteristically fluffed his lines when through on goal and only Martin Dubravka to beat, kicking at fresh air.

But Kane made up for that miss, and lifted Spurs off their knees five minutes after the restart as he gave his side a priceless lead.

Spurs, who had been booed off at half-time, worked the ball well down the right and Son Heung-min showed neat footwork in the penalty area to tee up Kane, who delightfully found the top corner with a first-time finish.

It was his 28th Premier League goal of the season and it eased the considerable tension inside Wembley.

It also gave Tottenham impetus and they could have been further ahead but Dele Alli could not find the corner, with Dubravka getting down well.

Newcastle were still not playing ball and continued to threaten, with Lloris needing to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Matt Richie, while Jacob Murphy produced a glaring miss after beating Davinson Sanchez.

The tension lifted when news of Chelsea’s result came through, but it was still a nervy ending for the hosts, especially when Danny Rose missed a fine chance to put the game to bed.

In the end, Kane’s goal proved enough and Spurs will be a Champions League side next season.

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