Harry Kane scored twice as Tottenham kept the pressure on Premier League leader Leicester with a 2-0 victory at bottom club Aston Villa on Sunday, provisionally moving Spurs to within two points of their title rivals.
Kane found the net just before half-time with an angled finish from a free kick taken by England teammate Delle Ali. Kane struck again just three minutes after the restart at Villa Park, again being set up by Ali.
It was the striker’s 19th league goal of the season, drawing him level with Jamie Vardy of Leicester in the list of top-scorers and ensuring Spurs finished the day with 58 points from 30 games.
Surprise leader Leicester has 60 points from 29 matches, ahead of its home game against relegation-threatened Newcastle on Monday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s players needed a lift, having lost ground in the title race with defeat at West Ham and a north London derby draw against 10-man Arsenal earlier this month, followed by a 3-0 Europa League thrashing at Borussia Dortmund.
And they could not have wished for a better opponent than beleaguered Villa, which appears as good as relegated after a fifth consecutive loss.
Protests by the home supporters were called off after the club announced the arrivals of popular former player and manager Brian Little and ex-Football Association chairman David Bernstein to the board this week.
Still, there was little for the locals to cheer about as Spurs dominated from kick-off.
Chance after chance went begging before Kane finally broke the deadlock.
He struck the crossbar in the third minute after latching onto Erik Lamela’s through-ball and also wasted other good opportunities.
Kyle Walker, who got the better of Aly Cissokho all afternoon, crossed for Lamela but the woodwork saved Villa for a second time when the attacker’s shot crashed off the post.
The breakthrough came when Alli was fouled midway in the Villa half. While the hosts switched off, the young midfielder’s quickly taken free-kick played in Kane, who fired past US goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
The same pair combined for the second as Alli broke free down the left and crossed for Kane, who made no mistake with the finish within three minutes of the restart.
Villa’s Rudy Gestede hit the crossbar from close range in the closing stages and Joleon Lescott screwed the ball wide from point-blank range, but the outcome was never in doubt.