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Harry Kane fires Tottenham towards Europa League football as Spurs look to end flat season on a high

·4-min read

Tottenham will enter the final week of the season with Europa League qualification and a top-six finish in their hands after a comfortable 2-0 win over struggling Wolves in north London.

A third win in four Premier League games under interim head-coach Ryan Mason means Spurs will surely guarantee sixth place and precious Europa League qualification ahead of rivals West Ham if they beat Aston Villa and Leicester next week.

No-one would have considered finishing above the Hammers a success in September, but consigning David Moyes’ side to the inaugural Europa Conference League would nonetheless count as a small triumph at the end a tough campaign for Spurs, particularly given the contrasting narratives around the two clubs’ seasons.

The visit of on-the-beach Wolves lacked intensity and jeopardy for stretches – the difference between the visitors and Leicester, who beat Spurs 3-1 last weekend, was striking – but for Mason there was a pleasing comparison to be made with the reverse fixture.

The 1-1 draw at Molineux in December was one of a number of matches when Jose Mourinho’s side cracked under pressure and conceded a late equalising after failing to protect a lead.

The pattern strangled the life out of Spurs’ season and eventually led to Mourinho’s sacking, even as he insisted the blame lay not with him but the players.

Mason would therefore have been pleased to see his side maintain the pressure at 1-0 after Harry Kane opened the scoring in first half stoppage-time.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg doubled Spurs’ lead after they had struck the woodwork for a third time, and the scoreline could and really should have been more emphatic.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images
Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

With Mason continuing to rehabilitate fan favourites Dele Alli and Gareth Bale, there are reasons for fans to look forward to returning to the ground for the first time since December when Villa are the visitors on Wednesday.

Kane inches ahead of in Golden Boot race

Harry Kane left Conor Coady and Rui Patricio on the deck with a masterful piece of play to open the scoring and move ahead of Mohamed Salah in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot.

Since the League Cup final defeat, Kane has not played with the same ferocious intensity as earlier in the season – when he was often Spurs’ beating heart and focal point – and perhaps he has begun preserving energy for the European Championship.

But he still has the quality to make the difference and his well-taken goal took him to 22 for the campaign, one ahead of Salah and four clear of Bruno Fernandes.

Pool via REUTERS
Pool via REUTERS

And yet, Tottenham’s win should have been more emphatic and if Kane misses out on a third Golden Boot, the afternoon may be more significant for his misses, rather than his goal.

He twice struck the base of the post, meaning he has hit the woodwork nine times this season – more than anyone else – and had a header cleared off the line by Coady shortly before his goal. Kane also tested Patricio from range in the second half as he looked to take advantage of an opponent who have seemingly checked-out already.

Salah will aim to advance his case when Liverpool visit West Brom later on Sunday, but Kane remains on course to become the first-ever player to finish the season with the most goals and most assists.

As Mason said pre-match, it would be hard not to consider him the standout candidate for the top-flight’s player of the year if he does.

Dele finding his feet

It is surely too late for Dele Alli to force his way into England’s Euros squad - but in front of the watching Gareth Southgate, the midfielder continued his mini-renaissance.


After a clever assist for Heung-min Son at Leeds last Sunday, Dele nearly repeated the trick at 1-0, winning possession on the half-time, bursting forward and expertly delaying before playing in Kane, whose shot was turned onto the post by Patricio.

From the follow-up, Dele hit the other upright when he really should have scored, another indication that he is still finding his rhythm after a season spent largely on the sidelines.

Still, this was Dele’s most influential 81 minutes in the League this season – he faded at Elland Road last weekend – and you should not bet against him improving again against Villa and Leicester in the final two matches of the season.

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