Son double boosts Spurs' top-four hopes

Son and Harry Kane were involved in all three goals as Tottenham strolled to a 3-1 victory over West Ham

Sunday, 20th March — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Tottenham Spurs Stadium

Premier League

TOTTENHAM 3 (Zouma 9 og, Son 24, 88)
WEST HAM 1 (Benrahma 35)

TOTTENHAM kept their Champions League hopes alive this evening (Sunday) with a barnstorming 3-1 win over fellow top-four challengers West Ham.

And the manner of the victory, which saw Heung-Min Son strike twice, sent a message to Spurs manager Antonio Conte about how his players were responding to him.

Conte was beaming after a game that his players dominated, and could have been a more embarrassing scoreline for their east London visitors but for some wayward finishing.

“Now I see we are a really good team,” said the Italian after the game. “It was very difficult to play against us.”

The Tottenham boss has been happy to point out his squads deficiencies when they has come unstuck – but today he could not help but show how happy he was.

Conte added: “We played really, really well. We dominated the game from the start until the end. I enjoyed seeing my team play football.

“Now, I repeat, we have to continue to work and we are seeing the improvement every week. And it is a pity it is the international break now because we are in great form and are playing really well. But at the same time we now have to rest.”

The opener came on nine minutes. Matt Doherty used determination and energy to win possession, before moving the ball swiftly on to Dejan Kulusevski, whose control and strength would cause West Ham problems all afternoon.

The Swedish midfielder combined with Harry Kane, who bustled his way into the box, drawing in three defenders. It left space in the middle for his strike partner, and though Son didn’t manage to tap the ball home, West Ham defender Kurt Zouma did.

Son should have doubled the home teams lead on 11 when a break from Kulusevski and Kane saw him tee’d up with the goal at his mercy. His scuffed effort struck the post.

It was one of those moments that every Tottenham fan fears will be costly – but Spurs were not deflated and they doubled the lead on 24.

Kane, who was in the mood to showcase why he is possibly the best in the world in the role he plays, drifted across the middle of the pitch looking for the angle and spotted Son making strides down the left.

A perfectly weighted ball cleaved the Hammers defence in two and Son’s finish was a devilish drive from the angle with his left foot. The shot flew past Lukasz Fabianski and nestled in the far side netting.

West Ham, leggy from playing 120 minutes on Thursday in the Europa League, looked like they’d rather be elsewhere, and it was against the run of play that they came back into it.

On 35 minutes, defender Craig Dawson nodded on a corner and Said Benrahma sneaked in unmarked to volley home at the back post.

With West Ham getting a fresh and favourable wind, Spurs’ old insecurities looked likely to arise once more – but there were to be no wobbles today.

With Rodrigo Bentancur bringing poise and bite to the middle, Cristian Romero a rock at the back, and Kane simply unplayable, Spurs quickly shook any grogginess from their minds from the sucker punch of conceding and looked likely to increase their lead whenever they broke.

The result was sealed on 88 when Son, who has been on indifferent form in recent games, latched on to a Kane through ball – who else? – drew the advancing Fabianski, and finished empathically.

Tottenham still have a lot to do to make fourth – but on this showing and a comfortable run of games as we head towards the end of the season, Conte’s hopes are still alive.

Tottenham: Lloris, Romero, Dier, Davies, Doherty, Reguilon (Royal, 88), Bentancur, Hojbjerg, Kulusevski (Bergwijn 90+2), Son (Moura 90+2), Kane
Substitutes not used: Gollini, Sanchez, Winks, Rodon, White, Scarlett

West Ham: Fabianski, Cresswell, Zouma, Dawson, Johnson, Soucek, Rice, Masuaku (Fornals, 56), Benrahma, Lanzini (Vlasic, 84), Antonio (Yarmolenko, 56)
Substitutes not used: Areola, Noble, Diop, Federericks, Kral, Perkins

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