Heung-Min Son’s hat-trick took Tottenham three points clear of Arsenal in the race for fourth with a clinical 4-0 win away to Aston Villa.
Goals early in each half from Son and Dejan Kulusevski put Antonio Conte’s team in control, before the hat-trick hero added two more on the break to seal an emphatic victory.
Villa had plenty of chances in the first half as they peppered Hugo Lloris’ goal with shots but, roared on by their fans, they could not take any of their opportunities. It was the difference.
AstonVilla: Martinez (6), Cash (6), Konsa (6), Mings (5), Worthy (6), Luiz (6), McGinn (5), Ramsey (7), Coutinho (7), Ings (5), Watkins (5).
Subs: Buendia (6), Bailey (6), Young (5).
Tottenham: Lloris (8), Romero (8), Dier (7), Davies (7), Emerson Royal (7), Bentancur (7), Hojbjerg (8), Doherty (6), Kulusevski (9), Kane (9) , Sound (10).
Subs: Reguilon (7), Lucas (6), Bergwijn (6).
Man of the game: Heung Min Son
Arsenal’s surprise home defeat to Brighton earlier in the day meant Spurs had remained fourth at kick-off and the victory means they are now in a strong position to secure Champions League football.
For Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa, the mood is rather different. This result – a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat and the worst of the lot – leaves them in the bottom half of the table.
How Spurs stunned Villa
Tottenham’s players appeared buoyed by the shock news from the Emirates Stadium and they took that momentum into the game when they went ahead inside three minutes.
Harry Kane’s shot was going wide but bounced kindly off Matty Cash and Son lashed the ball low into the corner with his left foot. By the end of the day, he would have 17 Premier League goals.
That might have dented Villa’s confidence having lost their previous three games but instead, they tore into Tottenham, firing off no fewer than 14 shots in the opening 45 minutes.
Hugo Lloris did brilliantly to keep out Jacob Ramsey’s effort – one of seven saves before the break – although Danny Ings did not even test him when dragging his close-range attempt wide.
Steven Gerrard brought in Danny Ings and Douglas Luiz for Morgan Sanson and Leon Bailey, meaning a slight change of role for John McGinn.
Antonio Conte named an unchanged line-up from the one that thrashed Newcastle. Ryan Sessegnon and Sergio Reguilon were among the substitutes.
Spurs, who lost Matt Doherty to injury early in the game, stoically defended throughout that first half against a Villa side that briefly looked to be better balanced with Douglas Luiz back in the center of midfield.
But the contrast in finishing was underlined in the second half when Kane put through Kulusevski and the Sweden international deposited the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
Kane’s awareness was on display again for the third goal – cleverly flicking the ball through with his head to put Son in on goal for another left-footed finish. But the best was to come.
His threaded a pass through to Kulusevski, the Swede drew the defenders towards him, and he then picked out the Korean near the penalty spot to allow him to complete his hat-trick.
It was a masterclass in precision finishing. Against a team who needed the lesson.
Tale ‘feels blood’ of rivals
Speaking in the press conference after the game, Conte was delighted that his players took advantage of the slips by those teams around them in the Premier League table.
“It was a great win for us. Especially when you play a game after your rivals for a place in the Champions League – Wolverhampton, Manchester United and Arsenal – have lost.
“In this moment you start to feel the blood. It is important in this moment not to fail. We are working a lot on the mentality and the players are giving me satisfaction.
“For sure, to see this improvement makes me proud. It gives me great satisfaction. At the same time, I know we have to work on this improvement.
“Because there is not only the tactical, technical and physical aspects but there is the mentality. There is a lot of space for improvement. But today they showed me they have improved this aspect.”
Gerrard: We created more than enough
Gerrard was proud of his players’ first-half performance in which he claims they created enough to win more than one game but felt Spurs’ ruthlessness in front of goal was the difference.
“First half, it was the best performance we’ve had together in the first 45 minutes. I can’t remember many times throughout my football career where I’ve actually been proud and so happy going off a pitch one-nil down.
“I thought we were aggressive. I thought we suffocated Tottenham. I thought we created enough chances to win more than one football match.
“We couldn’t execute to get back in the game, but I was certainly scratching my head running off, thinking how are we losing that game one-nil.
“The second goal was a real blow to us. It was real quality from Tottenham’s point of view. But defensively from our point of view, to allow someone to have that much time and space and get a shot off in your box is poor.
“And then the third and fourth goals were no better on the eye, so they made it about our back line in the second half. They were ruthless with quality. And that’s the reason why the scoreline is as it was.”
Aston Villa don’t have a Premier League fixture next weekend but they return to action on Saturday April 23 at Leicester; kick off 3pm. Tottenham are at home to Brighton next Saturday.
April 16 – Brighton
April 23 – Brentford, live on Sky Sports
April 30 – Leicester (h)
May 7 – Liverpool (a)
May 12 – Arsenal (h), live on Sky Sports
May 15 – Burnley (h)
May 22 – Norwich