Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (R) celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal, and his second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at White Hart Lane in London, on April 8, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Justin TALLIS
Son Heung-Min struck twice as Tottenham Hotspur maintained the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea with a 4-0 victory against Watford at a sun-soaked White Hart Lane on Saturday.
With Antonio Conte’s side not due to face Bournemouth until later in the day, Spurs made the most of the chance to close the gap at the head of the table to four points with Dele Alli and Eric Dier also on target.
The chances of Tottenham overhauling Chelsea may be slim, but manager Mauricio Pochettino can be satisfied his side are not going to give up the chase.
After recovering from a goal down to win in the final two minutes of the mid-week trip to Swansea City, Spurs did everything that was asked of them against a poor Watford side with little still to play for this season.
All four goals were the result of outstanding finishes that demonstrated the confidence running through Pochettino’s side and in particular Son, who has now scored seven goals in five games.
Three first-half goals put Spurs in control and after Son added a fourth in the 54th minute, the Spurs manager brought on Harry Kane to ease the club’s leading scorer back into action.
Pochettino had sprung a surprise in the build-up to this game by revealing the striker would return to the squad after recovering from an ankle injury ahead of schedule.
The Argentine opted to leave Kane on the bench and hand Vincent Janssen the chance to lead the line.
Janssen has struggled to make his mark since arriving in a £17 million ($21 million, 19.9 million euros) move from AZ Alkmaar and it quickly became clear his luck was not about to change.
The Dutchman spurned three good first-half chances before Alli finally set Spurs on their way.
Janssen’s first opportunity came after just nine minutes when he turned Watford centre-back Craig Cathcart by the penalty spot and shot against the legs of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
If that was unfortunate, Janssen’s second miss was one he would want to forget, with the forward somehow diverting Kieran Trippier’s cross onto the bar from just two yards out.
– Hat-trick eludes Son –
Seconds later, Trippier’s right-wing cross eluded the sliding Janssen by a couple of feet.
Any concerns that Pochettino’s side might struggle to secure the win they needed disappeared in the 33rd minute when Alli capped a sweeping move with an outstanding finish.
The move began on Hugo Lloris’s goal-line, the Spurs goalkeeper remaining calm under pressure to play the ball out to Trippier.
The former Burnley right-back demonstrated similar composure in exchanging passes with Christian Eriksen before finding Mousa Dembele.
The Belgian surged forward and was thrown to the ground by Abdoulaye Doucoure as he moved the ball on to Alli.
Fortunately, referee Anthony Taylor played the advantage and the decision allowed Alli curl a stunning shot over Gomes and into the top-right corner from 25 yards.
The second goal came six minutes later when Dier latched onto a loose ball after Son’s shot had been blocked and powered a half-volley past Gomes from the edge of the area.
Son ensured Spurs reached half-time with the third fine goal of the half a minute before the interval.
A poor clearance by Craig Cathcart was picked up by Eriksen, who found Son, and the South Korea striker was allowed to advance before directing a low left-foot shot inside Gomes’s left-hand post.
Son added his second in the 54th minute when he met another Trippier cross at the far post and volleyed home.
The striker had only himself to blame for his failure to claim a hat-trick, placing a shot wide from Kane’s lay-off and later hitting the bar from Trippier’s cute pass.
Kane also struck the woodwork in stoppage time, his powerful free-kick clipping the bar.