Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino praised his side’s “massive” win as they beat Watford to move closer to securing qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Goals from Dele Alli and Harry Kane gave fourth-placed Spurs a scrappy victory at Wembley Stadium that took them five points clear of Chelsea with only three matches to play.
“It was a game we had to win and we won, so I’m happy about that,” said Pochettino. “Maybe the performance was not great, but the most important thing is to get the three points.
“This is massive. It puts us in a very good position fighting for the top four and that is the objective for the rest of the season.”
Spurs capitalised on an error from Hornets goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis as Christian Eriksen set up Alli and the England midfielder scored from 12 yards out.
Kane doubled Spurs’ lead early in the second half from Kieran Trippier’s pull-back and Jan Vertonghen later headed against the post.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris denied Andre Gray and Richarlison, with the Brazilian also shooting over from six yards out.
The visitors are still not guaranteed Premier League safety and this defeat extended their winless run to seven matches.
Kane v Salah for the Golden Boot
It was a welcome goal for Kane, who had only scored twice in his previous eight games, with one of those efforts – the winner at Stoke on 7 April – controversially awarded to him by the Premier League goals accreditation panel after he claimed Eriksen’s free-kick had touched his shoulder before going in.
Nevertheless, there was no doubt about Kane’s 27th league goal of the season – his 38th in all competitions – in the 49th minute when he steered in Trippier’s pass.
That goal means Kane is four behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, who has 31, as the England centre-forward aims to win the Golden Boot – awarded to the Premier League’s leading goalscorer – for the third successive season.
Kane had earlier wasted two chances, with a weak side-footed effort directed at Karnezis, and another opportunity slipping away with a heavy touch when collecting a pass from Son Heung-min.
With England manager Gareth Southgate watching on, Kane had further chances to add to his tally but failed to connect with the rebound after Vertonghen’s header hit the post and then had a goal ruled out when he was offside, moving too early from the Belgium defender’s pass.
Gracia and Watford’s poor run goes on
Watford’s disappointing end to the season continues. They are 13th, but only six points above Southampton in 18th, who have three games left to play.
The Hornets’ biggest problem has been in front of goal; they have scored nine times in 13 matches under Javi Gracia. Four of those goals came in one game – a memorable 4-1 win over Chelsea on 5 February.
Andre Gray, with four goals in 31 matches since an £18.5m move from Burnley last August, should have done better with a low strike that was comfortably saved.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris also produced a fine one-handed save to deny Richarlison, who later wasted a glorious chance when he blasted over from six yards out after substitute Troy Deeney’s knockdown. In injury-time, Lloris secured another clean sheet for him with a fine save to block Andre Carillo’s powerful strike.
Watford sacked former boss Marco Silva in January with the club 10th in the table, but on a run of only one win in 11 games after the Portuguese coach had been repeatedly linked with the managerial position at Everton.
Gracia led Watford to an initial upturn in form, with 10 points from his first five league games, although they have picked up two points from seven matches since then.
A finish of 13th two seasons ago did not keep Quique Sanchez Flores in his job, nor was 17th enough last season to save Walter Mazzarri, and Gracia’s future at the club is looking insecure after only 13 games in charge.
The Hornets’ last two games are at home against Newcastle on Saturday, 5 May before an away game at FA Cup finalists Manchester United on the final day of the season and Watford need two points to mathematically guarantee their Premier League status.
Spurs keep scoring run going – the stats
- Tottenham have scored in each of their past 23 Premier League games, their longest scoring run in the top flight since April 1987 (26 games).
- Watford have gone seven Premier League away games without scoring (drew one, lost six), since Andre Gray found the net against Manchester City on 2 January.
- Harry Kane made his 150th appearance in the Premier League. In those games Kane has netted 105 goals; only Alan Shearer managed more in his first 150 in the competition (121).
- Christian Eriksen has been directly involved in nine goals in his past eight games in all competitions (five goals, four assists).
- Eriksen (10 goals, 10 assists) is the third Spurs player to register 10-plus goals and 10-plus assists in a single Premier League season, after Jurgen Klinsmann in 1994-95 and Emmanuel Adebayor in 2011-12.
- Dele Alli has been involved in seven goals in his past seven games for Spurs in all competitions (five goals, two 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 Heurelho Gomes and Orestis Karnezis).
- Kieran Trippier has notched one goal and five assists in his six top-flight appearances against Watford.
Man of the match – Kieran Trippier (Tottenham)
‘There was tension in the stadium’ – analysis
Former Tottenham and England midfielder Jermaine Jenas on BBC Radio 5 live
It was job done for Tottenham, but it wasn’t the most vintage performance. There was a lot of tension in the stadium and that transmitted to the players.
There were a few dodgy touches and passing was not on the money. They got three points, which is the most important thing.
They had Chelsea slowly creeping up on them too, so they now have an opportunity to start looking upwards rather than behind them.
Watford are a bunch of individuals; they get broken down too easily. Without that togetherness, they leak goals. In midfield, they are either brilliant or shocking, and those inconsistencies are baffling fans.
‘Lloris was great’ – what they said
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told BBC Sport: “Hugo Lloris showed he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he was great.”
On Harry Kane, Pochettino added: “He is working hard to try to recover his real performance. For him to score 105 goals in 150 games is very good.
“He is chasing [Mohamed Salah] but the most important thing is to score goals for the team.”
Watford manager Javi Gracia told BBC Sport: “I think we had a good performance.
“We created many chances in the first half, we did not score and Tottenham with their first chance scored. It was very tough after that to try to get the points.”