London, April 4
Tottenham Hotspur moved up to fourth in the Premier League in the race for a Champions League position after a goal-spree which saw them win 5-1 against Newcastle. It has put pressure on their arch rivals Arsenal who are also on 54 points but with two games in hand.
Spurs manager Antonio Conte, who joined the club in November, said: “When I arrived it was difficult to believe that we would be in the race for the Champions League because usually when you change manager during the season it means there are difficulties. But now I have seen my team is now in the race because I have seen great improvement.”
He added: “In this race there are other teams that maybe in this moment have an advantage. Arsenal have to play two games. Don’t forget Manchester United. I think now the players understand that this is the right way, they trust me and I trust them. We have eight games (left), eight finals. Every game will be important to get points and continue to dream to finish in the Champions League this season.”
In a five-star performance, Spurs hit back sharply after Newcastle scored first, six minutes before half time from a free-kick by Fabian Schar. But within four minutes Spurs responded with a header from Ben Davis following a corner. With the intensity increasing, there was a flare-up on the stroke of half-time which resulted in Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton and Spurs’ Rodrigo Bentancur receiving the yellow card.
Three minutes after the break Tottenham went into the lead. Harry Kane received the ball 40 yards from goal, beat Dan Burn and sent an out-swinging cross which Heung-Min Son missed but Matt Doherty, on his left, was alert enough to put in a diving header at the back post.
Tottenham went further ahead in the 54th minute with the third goal when Son left-footed a shot past Martin Dubravka from a superb cross from Dejan Kulusevski – on loan from Juventus – who had received a pin-point pass from Kane. The result was then put beyond doubt nine minutes later with Doherty playing a one-two with Kulusevski and passing to Emerson Royal to score his first goal for the club.
Shortly after that Son had a chance for a second goal from a fine pass from Kane but surprisingly, he shot across goal and wide when it seemed easier to score. But it didn’t take long for the fifth goal to come. With six minutes before time, substitute Steven Bergwijn was sent clear by Lucas Moura – also on as substitute – and he completed Tottenham’s tally.
Newcastle manager, Eddie Howe said: “The minute we went behind and chased the game, we changed what we were doing and that played into their hands. These results can happen against quality opposition.”
He added: “It hurts and I’m sure my players feel the same. We got punished by a top-level team. We need to focus on what’s to come, which is an absolute key week for us.”