Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City put some pressure on leaders Chelsea after both claimed wins yesterday.
Harry Kane scored twice as Spurs held off a late rally to beat Everton 3-2, keeping them second, seven points behind Chelsea, who play at West Ham today.
City won 2-0 at bottom side Sunderland in the late match through goals by Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane to go third, one point behind Spurs.
At White Hart Lane, Kane, who is now the league’s leading goalscorer with 19, had opportunities to complete what would have been his fourth hat-trick in 10 games and was disappointed to miss out.
“I wanted that third goal and I had chances which I should have scored,” Kane said.
“It would have been another match ball but I’m delighted with the win.
“We played very well today and controlled the game and then all of a sudden it was a nervy end. It’s an important win, we should have won by more but it’s another step closer to the top of the table.
“We want West Ham to win against Chelsea tomorrow, we don’t normally say that.”
Tottenham were cruising at the hour-mark thanks to Kane’s double, the first a cracker from more than 25 yards out.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Everton with nine minutes to go but Dele Alli restored Spurs’ two-goal advantage in injury time.
Enner Valencia still had time to grab a second goal for Everton but it was not enough to prevent defeat, leaving them still seventh.
The win was manager Mauricio Pochettino’s 100th in English football but the Argentinian was more pleased with what was a record ninth straight home win for the club in the Premier League.
“It is a fantastic achievement for the group,” he said. “We feel very proud. We make history with this group, they are good players and it is only the start of good things in the future.
“It is very good to play in front of our fans, the atmosphere is great and we can feel that. We are in a very good position here.”
Everton manager Ronald Koeman admitted his side were second-best on the day.
“It was emotional until the last second,” he said. “We started really well and made it tough for Tottenham to create space between the lines. But our mistakes were punished.
“At least we showed good character. We had a good reaction but overall Tottenham were the stronger team.”
City regained third spot from Liverpool after they eased to victory at bottom side Sunderland.
Jermain Defoe hit the post for Sunderland early on before Aguero tapped in City’s opener three minutes before half-time. Sane doubled their lead just before the hour to keep Pep Guardiola’s side in touch and keep alive their outside title chances.
Tottenham will be there if Chelsea slip, says coach Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur struck another blow in the battle for a top-four finish but manager Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to concede the Premier League title race to Chelsea after a 3-2 win over Everton yesterday.
With Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side showing no signs of slipping up, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United appear to be scrapping for second, third and fourth with nearly a third of the season remaining.
Yet there was a steely look in Pochettino’s eye after Tottenham recorded a ninth victory in their last 12 league games thanks to a brace from in-form striker Harry Kane.
A ninth successive home league win closed the gap on Chelsea to seven points before they play West Ham United today.
Asked if he believed second-placed Tottenham could still catch their west London rivals, Pochettino told reporters: “The most important thing is to have the belief on the pitch. And today I think we showed that.
“We need to be there. It’s not up to us, but it is up to us to be there if Chelsea fail. Today was an important three points for us to keep us second in the table.”
The Argentine celebrated wildly as Tottenham’s goals went in and berated his team at times too - a sign of the high standards he has set since arriving from Southampton in 2014.
He was delighted with his team’s performance though and believes the squad he has assembled can give the club some long-awaited silverware - they have only the 2008 League Cup title to show for the last decade.
“It is a fantastic achievement for the group. We feel very proud. We can make history with this group, they are good players and it is only the start of good things in the future,” said Pochettino, whose name is being linked with the Barcelona job after Luis Enrique said he would not be there next season.
Certainly if Tottenham retain the services of the likes of Kane, and Dele Alli who scored their third goal, the future looks bright for the north London club.
“Harry feels fresh because he does double training sessions a lot, he takes care of himself,” Pochettino said. “He was upset afterwards because he didn’t get a hat-trick. That’s a great mentality. He is one of the best strikers.”
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