Spurs are now well placed to chase down the two wins they will likely need to secure European football for next season.
Irreplaceable Kane tames Wolves
Goals either side of half-time from Harry Kane and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg saw Spurs reenter the Premier League’s top six following a comfortable 2-0 win over Wolves.
Other than Japhet Tanganga replacing the injured Serge Aurier, Ryan Mason afforded the players, who so disappointed in defeat at Elland Road last weekend, a chance to make amends. While that result ended lingering hopes of an unlikely top-four finish, victory here means there is still a pathway from this deeply disappointing season to the Europa League.
From the kick-off, Spurs were quickly in the ascendency. Harry Kane was denied an opener inside the first five minutes when his precise strike from range rattled the base of Rui Patricio’s post. It would not be the last time the Portuguese was rescued by the woodwork.
With fifteen minutes played, Giovani Lo Celso, enjoying one of his better afternoons in a Tottenham shirt, played a glorious first-time pass wide to Son. The Korean charged to the byline before flashing a low ball across the area, which the overworked Conor Coady did well to clear. It was the Wolves captain who, time and again, made crucial interventions as Dele Alli and Gareth Bale, in particular, tried to force the issue. Wolves did offer an intermittent threat of their own through Adama Traore. The powerful winger carried the ball to the base of the Spurs area from his own half twice, given space by a retreating home rearguard, rightly unwilling to confront him head-on. Fortunately for Tottenham, the Spaniard’s menacing approach play seldom provides the prologue to a goalscoring finish.
Midway through the half, Bale drew an accomplished save from Patricio with a stinging freekick won by Lo Celso. Moments later, Kane toed the ball away from the one-time Tottenham target Joao Moutinho. The veteran midfielder felled the England captain 35 yards from goal, presenting Bale another opportunity from a dead ball. Teasing the shot, the Welshman instead clipped a crafty pass over the Wolves defence, which Kane couldn’t quite direct on target as it dropped over his shoulder.
With half-time approaching, Kane leapt to knockdown Alli’s crossfield pass for Son. The forward hammered a low shot towards the near post, which Patricio could only parry. Fortune was still favouring the visitors at this point as the ball cannoned off the unwitting Dendoncker allowing the keeper to clasp it on his goalline.
Two minutes before the interval, Spurs went closer still. Lo Celso’s inswinging corner was headed up rather than out by Coady. Kane wedged himself in front of the flapping Wolves keeper and headed the ball past him only to find the redoubtable Coady back on the line to clear the danger.
Just as it looked as though Tottenham’s first-half endeavours would go without reward, the hosts finally made their breakthrough in injury time. Hojbjerg steered a low ball from his own half that eluded both Wolves central defenders and set Kane on his way. The forward – possessor of otherwordly poise in these situations – nudged the ball to his right, evading both a desperate lunge from Coady and outmanoeuvring Patricio before guiding home right-footed.
Spurs accelerated away from Wolves in the second half. In controlled bursts, the North Londoners played some of their most attractive football of the season. Alli was by now enjoying himself, smiling his way through a veritable showreel of flicks and feints. He started a flowing move that saw Hojbjerg, Son and Lo Celso combine to release Reguilon. The Spaniard leathered a left-foot shot that Patricio palmed clear. Minutes later, Alli was the spark again. This time he foraged possession in his own half and then cantered forward to feed Kane with a delicious nutmeg through-pass on Coady. The striker angled his shot across Patricio, but the keeper’s fingertips were enough to divert the ball onto the post. Alli was first to the rebound, but he too hit the woodwork with the Wolves keeper beaten.
Tottenham were not to be denied for long. Reguilon chased a seeming lost cause deep into Wolves territory. Ki-Jana Hoever attempted to usher the ball across the touchline rather than booting it to safety. The Spurs left-back slid in to seize possession with a snaking leg before cutting the ball back to Son, who instantly teed up Bale for a snapshot. Patricio could only push the ball out into the middle of his six-yard box where Hojbjerg gleefully jabbed in the second goal Spurs thoroughly deserved.
If Nuno Espirito Santo has designs on the N17 managerial vacancy, his side did little to further his cause in what remained of the game. Tottenham played out time in football’s equivalent of energy-saving mode, stroking the ball around unmolested. Spurs are now well placed to chase down the two wins they will likely need to secure European football for next season. Whether that will be enough to keep the irreplaceable Harry Kane at the club remains to be seen.
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