Tottenham crush Stokes 4-0 to put pressure on Leicester


Tottenham produced an outstanding display to thrash Stoke and move five points behind leaders Leicester with four games of the season remaining.

Harry Kane’s sublime curling finish, his 23rd Premier League goal of the season, set them on their way before Christian Eriksen hit the crossbar.

Dele Alli doubled the lead before he hit a post when it was easier to score.

Kane rolled in the third before Alli’s right-foot volley made it 4-0 to wrap up Spurs’ ninth away win of the season.

The result lifted Mauricio Pochettino’s side to 68 points from 34 matches, with Leicester on 73 from the same number of games.

Tottenham’s travelling fans at the Britannia Stadium chanted “Leicester City – we’re coming for you” after Alli’s chip made it 2-0.

Had Spurs lost then Leicester could conceivably have been celebrating the title next Monday, but the visitors were in control from start to finish as they turned on the style on what could be a pivotal day in the race for the title.

After the Foxes’ leading scorer Jamie Vardy was left facing the possibility of an increased ban after being charged with improper conduct by the Football Association, Stoke were blown away by a dynamic and aggressive display as their north London opponents showed no signs of pressure.

Eriksen, who hit the bar at 1-0, was involved in three of the four goals, while Kane has scored more Premier League goals than relegated Aston Villa this season, and Alli is now in double figures.

Leicester’s final four matches are against Swansea (home), Manchester United (away), Everton (home) and Chelsea (away). Tottenham’s remaining fixtures see them face West Brom (home), Chelsea (away), Southampton (home) and Newcastle (away).

Tottenham have the best attack (64 goals) and the best defence (25 conceded) in the Premier League this season and there is a feeling their title charge is gathering momentum at the right time.

After Leicester dropped points against West Ham on Sunday, Kane used Instagram to post a picture of prowling lions waiting to pounce.

It ought to have sent an ominous warning to Stoke’s defenders, who simply could not handle the England striker and his attacking partner Alli.

Kane set Spurs on their way from the edge of the area after Mousa Dembele had breezed past several challenges before Alli’s chip doubled the lead following Eriksen’s delicious pass.

The striker made it 24 top-flight goals after connecting with Erik Lamela’s cross before Alli put the gloss on a rampaging performance, a sweetly-struck volley from Eriksen’s cross.

But it was not all plain sailing for the 20-year-old England midfielder.

At 2-0 he produced an astonishing miss after rounding Shay Given, who was making his Premier League debut for Stoke two days short of his 40th birthday.

From almost point-blank range he rolled the ball against the post instead of into the net – and Pochettino fell to the ground in disbelief before twice punching the surface with his fist.

Yet the evening was to end in smiles for the Argentine after a stellar performance by his team, with the manager later admitting he was a “little embarrassed” by his reaction to Alli’s miss.

One surprising aspect from this game was the lack of contact as players lined up for corners.

On Sunday, Leicester’s controversial 2-2 draw with West Ham featured a contentious decision by referee Jon Moss, who penalised Foxes centre-back Wes Morgan for grappling with Winston Reid.

That prompted widespread debate about players tussling at set-pieces, and it was noticeable that this game was an hour old before there was any kind of contact between opposing players inside the box.

It came when Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross appeared to drag down Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld – but, unlike in Sunday’s game, no penalty was given.

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