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Spurs still in pole position for Europe

ON THE MARK: Hot spur Dele All scored against Watford

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE chasing Tottenham went five points clear of fifth-placed Chelsea after beating Watford 2-0 at Wembley Stadium last night (April 30). Spurs entertained the Hornets, knowing their season is ends without a trophy. After suffering the ignominy of an FA Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Manchester United plus, an unexpected Champions League exit, Spurs needed the win to secure a Top Four Finish.

In contrast, Javi Gracia’s Watford team season tailed off some time ago. Once touted as the Premier League new stars, the team are only six points clear of the relegation zone after last night’s woeful result. Another season in the Premier League is not secure.

Spurs dominated the midfield from the first whistle. The Hornets gave a good account of themselves in first few minutes. But, Watford goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis practically gifted Spurs the first goal after Christian Eriksen’s quick pass to Dele Alli. Alli converting from inside the box.

Spurs found themselves close to a second goal, with Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane involved in the build-up delivering the final ball to Alli. But the Watford keeper pounced quickly. A few minutes later, Christian Eriksen crossed into the box but Kane unusually missed his pass.

In their defence, Spurs moved the ball quickly, while Watford started to struggle with the pace in the first half. The Hornets came close to scoring after Will Hughes’ clever flick to Abdoulaye Doucoure in the box. His shot played straight into Hugo Lloris hands before half time.

The second half barely got going when Kane scored his 27th league goal this season. Kieran Trippier played the ball back in after Son’s initial pass to Kane slipped past him. Spurs made their first change of the game with Mousa Dembele off for Victor Wanyama. Instantly, his first involvement involved a yellow card.

Likewise, Watford’s Gerard Deuofeu came on for his first Watford appearance since the end of February, replacing Kiko Femenia. Troy Deeney replaced Andre Gray.

Spurs came close to a third goal after Jan Vertonghen’s brilliant header hit the post. Harry Kane missed the rebound, which he should have scored. Even with a two-goal lead, Spurs looked off the pace. Equally, Watford making the mistakes rather than Spurs creating the chances.

Watford’s Christian Kasabele went one-on-one with the Spurs keeper, controlling the ball around Hugo Lloris. Kasabele’s strike hits the back of the net before he sees the flag for off-side. Minutes later, Vertoghen slipped the ball to Kane on the edge of the box. But referee Michael Oliver blew for offside again. In the break, Mousa Sissoko replaced Son for Tottenham.

Unfortunately, a nasty clash of heads between Kieran Trippier and Richarlson. Richarlison suffered a head injury, requiring medical treatment. The injury delay took the sting out the game, just as Watford started to make chances.

After the game restarted, Victor Wanyama picked up Troy Deeney’s pass before Abdoulaye Doucoure fouled the midfielder. The Hornets puts themselves in a right position. But again, the team failed to score in the final third.

Kane played an excellent pass to substitute Sissoko. The midfielder tried shooting in the box, which flew high above the crossbar in the final few minutes.

At the final whistle, an average performance from the home side. But, the team left the ground with the three points. On paper, Spurs may finish above Liverpool if the last three games go their way. A good night though for spectator England manager Gareth Southgate, with goals from Kane and Alli. And strong performances from Will Hughes and Kieran Trippier.

Watford have failed to score away from home since January 2. This result is a familiar story for the Hornets, which begs the question about Javi Gracia’s future at the club.

Happy Tottenham boss Pochettino said: “It was important to get the win tonight. It’s difficult to keep playing at a high level for ten months.

"Of course, the fans and the team are disappointed after the FA Cup semi-final. We have three games left and it’s important to win those games. I am so proud of the mentality of the team. I think they try and give their best, which makes me proud. It wasn’t a great performance, but we need to be happy with the three points. I’m happier about that more than anything.”

Watford manager Javi Gracia said post-match: “I cannot be happy with the result today. We created many chances in the first half. I’m pleased with the effort of my players but, I hope the next game is better in the offensive and score more goals.

"We conceded cheap goals today and when we created chances, we didn’t score. I’m confident in the next game we will keep concentration and keep stronger in the box.”

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