Tottenham 2-0 Watford: Harry Kane helps strengthen Spurs' hold on Champions League place
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 01/05/18 7:19am
Harry Kane scored in Tottenham's routine 2-0 win over Watford to reopen their five-point cushion over Chelsea in the race for a top-four finish.
Dele Alli's fourth Premier League goal in his last five games gave Spurs the perfect start at Wembley, pouncing on a mistake from Orestis Karnezis to finish from Christian Eriksen's pass (16).
Mauricio Pochettino's side were flat in the first half, but it took just three minutes into the second period for Kane to tuck in Kieran Trippier's cross and take his tally to 38 goals for the season.
Spurs are now a point behind third-placed Liverpool with a game in hand while 13th-placed Watford are six points clear of the relegation zone but still not mathematically assured of safety.
Tottenham: Lloris (7), Trippier (8), Sanchez (7), Vertonghen (8), Davies (6), Dier (6), Dembele (6), Eriksen (7), Alli (6), Son (6), Kane (6)
Subs: Wanyama (6), Sissoko (5), Lamela (n/a)
Watford: Karnezis (4), Mariappa (5), Cathcart (5), Kabasele (5), Holebas (5), Hughes (7), Doucoure (6), Capoue (5), Femenia (5), Gray (6), Richarlison (5)
Subs: Deulofeu (5), Deeney (5), Carrillo (n/a)
Man of the match: Kieran Trippier
In a game which saw the two clubs join forces to back Sky's Ocean Rescue campaign, a goalkeeping error gifted the hosts the advantage.
Karnezis spilled Trippier's cross, presenting the ball straight to Eriksen, whose first-time ball found Alli for a simple tap-in after 16 minutes to ease any nerves among the subdued home supporters.
It means Spurs have scored in 23 successive league games - their best run since the late 80s - but Javi Gracia's side had a golden chance to level 10 minutes later.
Despite losing 2-1 in the last four of the FA Cup last time out, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino kept faith with the same outfield players. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris came back in though after Michel Vorm featured against Manchester United.
As expected, Roberto Pereyra (groin) and Stefano Okaka (unspecified) missed out for Watford, while Troy Deeney dropped to the bench. Kiko Femenia, Andre Gray and Richarlison all came in as replacements as Gracia’s side looked to end their long wait for another away win.
A slack pass from Eric Dier allowed Etienne Capoue to release Andre Gray, but Watford's £18.5m record signing was unable to beat Hugo Lloris with his snap-shot low down to the keeper's right.
It was the type of chance Watford had to take on a night when Spurs dominated, and Heung-Min Son was then unfortunate not to win a penalty when going down under a challenge from Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Spurs continued to present chances to their opponents as a delightful touch from Will Hughes found Doucoure on the left of the Tottenham penalty area, but having cut back inside, the pair got in each other's way as Lloris gathered Doucoure's shot at the second attempt.
Watford continued to show their attacking intent on the stroke of half-time as Lloris was forced into a save from Richarlison's drive, but Spurs emerged for the second period with greater urgency and duly doubled their lead.
Kane initially slipped from Son's cross, but he got back up to his feet to convert Trippier's low ball to score his 27th league goal of the campaign, four behind Mohamed Salah in his quest for the Premier League Golden Boot.
Jan Vertonghen came within inches of stretching their lead when his header from Trippier's free-kick struck a post, before Richarlison blazed over from Troy Deeney's knock-down with 20 minutes remaining.
Mauricio Pochettino: "I think it's nice for us because the objective was the three points to allow us to be in a good position in the table. It was a must-win game and so important for us.
"Maybe we didn't play in the way we wanted to play and our performance wasn't great, but the most important thing was the three points tonight."
Javi Gracia: "We conceded cheaply in our box and we weren't able to score the goals in the other box. If you don't have control of the boxes it's difficult to win games.
"I'm focused on the next game and I'll try to improve our position in the Premier League, the best the club has ever got. This is our target and our focus is on the next game against Newcastle."
Man of the match: Kieran Trippier
Spurs were not at their sparkling best, but Trippier was a constant outlet down the right with his delivery instrumental in providing the two key moments.
In setting up Kane's goal, the full-back now has seven league assists to his name - no defender has provided more. Trippier has also notched one goal and five assists in his six top-flight appearances against Watford.
A rare mistake nearly resulted in Deeney grabbing a consolation goal, but the former Burnley full-back repaid the faith shown in him by Pochettino, vindicating his decision to be selected in front of substitute Serge Aurier.
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The right-back overcame an early knock to his foot to produce the cross that caused uncertainty for Spurs’ opener, and his delivery from out on the right caused the Watford defence problems all night, setting up Kane for the second. On this evidence, Gareth Southgate faces a dilemma on whether to persist with playing Kyle Walker as part of a back three.
One slack pass nearly resulted in a Watford equaliser in the first half, and while Will Hughes impressed for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes, Dier showed good discipline to nullify his threat in the second period.
Job done for Alli, as the midfielder ended a run of 10 home league appearances without a goal by profiting from Karnezis’ mistake. Watford’s defence did well to keep Alli on the periphery of the game, but it is a good sign for England if he is still scoring when keeping plenty of energy in reserve.
Kane showed early signs of rustiness as he dragged an effort straight at Karnezis with Trippier better placed for the pass before he failed to control from Alli’s cross. On 33 minutes, Kane ducked under a cross when receiving a call from a Watford defender, but the striker showed his strength in character by flashing in his 27th league goal of the campaign.
- Tottenham have scored in each of their last 23 Premier League games, their longest scoring run in the top-flight since April 1987 (26 games).
- Watford have now gone seven Premier League away games without scoring (D1 L6), since Gray found the back of net against Man City at the Etihad on January 2nd.
- Eriksen has been directly involved in nine goals in his last eight games in all competitions (5 goals, 4 assists).
- Eriksen (10 goals, 10 assists) is the third Spurs player to register 10+ goals and 10+ assists in a single Premier League season, after Jurgen Klinsmann in 94/95 and Emmanuel Adebayor in 11/12.
- Dele Alli has registered seven goal involvements in his last seven games for Spurs in all competitions (5 goals, 2 assists).
- Watford are the only side to have more than one goalkeeper make an error leading to goal this season in the Premier League (two each for Gomes and Karnezis).
Tottenham travel to face a resurgent West Brom at The Hawthorns on Saturday, while Watford host Newcastle at Vicarage Road on the same day.