Harry Kane extended his hot streak with a blistering brace as Tottenham beat Everton 3-2 to close the gap on leaders Chelsea to seven points on Sunday.
Kane opened the scoring with a thunderous first-half strike at White Hart Lane and netted again after the break to take his goal tally to 24 in 28 games this season.
Everton forward Romelu Lukaku, Kane’s closest rival in the race to finish as Premier League top scorer, got one back before Dele Alli struck for Spurs in the closing moments.
There was still time for Enner Valencia to score Everton’s second, but Tottenham held on for a third victory in their last four league games.
Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Everton at White Hart Lane in London, on March 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO
Kane’s prolific form puts a little more pressure on runaway leaders Chelsea, who must win at West Ham on Monday to restore their 10-point advantage.
“Harry is one of the best. I repeat that not only if he scores, even if he does not score. He was fantastic. He deserves all the praise,” Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino said.
“We deserved to win. I feel very proud. We’re in a very good position here.”
Everton could have no complaints about their first defeat in their last 10 league games, a setback which dents their hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
Tottenham had an early penalty appeal when Kyle Walker surged past Leighton Baines into the area, but the Everton defender recovered impressively, just getting a foot on the ball with his last-ditch challenge.
Although Spurs were monopolising possession, all the neat passing from Pochettino’s men hadn’t forced Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles into action.
Sensing that his team needed to be more direct, Kane took matters into his own hands to break the deadlock in the 20th minute.
When Kane found himself on the ball 30 yards from goal, he quickly moved menacingly towards the penalty area and, with Everton midfielder Gareth Barry fatally failing to close him down, the Spurs star was free to unleash a superb strike that flashed past Robles.
– Knockout blow –
Kane should have netted again moments later when he collected Alli’s pass and cleverly cut inside Baines for a close-range effort that was straight at Robles.
Christian Eriksen smashed the rebound over the crossbar and the Tottenham midfielder was off target with another opportunity, this one steered wide after he broke clear.
After watching Merseyside boxer Tony Bellew’s win against David Haye in a heavyweight bout on Saturday evening, Everton boss Ronald Koeman took to social media to hail the Everton fan’s “warrior” spirit.
But there was little of that against-the-odds mentality from Everton, who failed to lay a glove on Tottenham in a one-sided affair.
Victor Wanyama nearly doubled Tottenham’s lead when his long-range effort cannoned off a post.
Pressing for the knockout blow after the interval, Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen stormed into the Everton area, but couldn’t beat Robles from an acute angle.
If Everton were to halt Spurs’ serene progress, they needed much better service for the isolated Lukaku.
Instead they shot themselves in the foot and gifted Kane his second goal in the 56th minute.
Robles rolled the ball out to Morgan Schneiderlin and, with two Tottenham players lurking nearby, he passed to Ashley Williams, but not quickly enough to stop Alli stealing possession.
A quick pass put Kane clean through and the England international kept his composure to slot a cool finish past Robles.
It took 80 minutes for Everton to give Lukaku a sight of goal and he snapped up the chance, taking Ross Barkley’s pass, accelerating away from the stumbling Vertonghen and firing home.
Tottenham were unfazed and Alli made a well-timed run to flick Harry Winks’s smart free-kick past Robles in the 90th minute.
Valencia’s close-range finish in stoppage time came too late for Everton to undo Kane’s latest heroics.