LONDON: Magnificent Harry Kane maintained Tottenham’s late chase for a place in next season’s Europa League with two fine goals in a 3-0 win over a fast-fading Leicester team now in serious danger of missing out on the Champions League.
Kane’s total of 17 league goals is remarkable, considering that he was absent between January 1 and the lockdown because of a serious hamstring injury. His tally of 203 club goals have come in 351 appearances in all competitions with 187 of them for Tottenham.
The chase for European places had been partially simplified by Manchester City’s successful appeal against a UEFA suspension.
The top four clubs will enter the group stage of the Champions League and City’s earlier success in the League Cup means the clubs finishing fifth and sixth in the table will enter the Europa League along with the FA Cup winners. But if the cup-winners finish in the top four then seventh place will provide entry into the Europa League qualifiers.
Prospects for both clubs were complicated further by the remaining fixtures. Leicester’s concluding match on next Sunday’s last day will be at home to European-slot rivals Manchester United.
Rival managers Jose Mourinho and Brendan Rodgers knew each other well. Rodgers had been youth then reserve team manager at Chelsea during Mourinho’s first, titles-winning spell at Stamford Bridge.
Spurs made a perfect start after only five minutes. They broke sharply out of defence, Heung-min Son cut in from the left and his right-foot shot was deflected beyond keeper Kasper Schmeichel by defender James Justin.
Leicester responded with spirit and Jamie Vardy forced a good save from Hugo Lloris. Foxes’ pressure left themselves vulnerable to Spurs on the counter-attack. Only a superb save from Schmeichel prevented Son from extending Spurs’ lead then Harry Kane struck twice in three minutes shortly before half-time.
** Relegation-threatened Watford have sacked manager Nigel Pearson after Friday’s 3:1 defeat by West Ham. Their survival depends on results in their last two games at home to Manchester City on Tuesday then away to Arsenal.
In December Pearson became Watford’s third manager of the season after Javi Gracia and Quique Sánchez Flores. Haydn Mullins, the under-23s’ coach, and goalkeeper-coach Graham Stack have been placed in temporary charge.