Match Report: Burnley 0-2 Spurs

Tottenham cut the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to seven points as they overcame a stubborn Burnley at Turf Moor.

The visitors struggled in a drab first half as Dele Alli fired wide when well-placed and both central midfielders Victor Wanyama and Harry Winks were withdrawn through injury.

Winks suffered a particularly nasty fall, tumbling into the Burnley dugout after trying to tackle Stephen Ward, before he was carried off on a stretcher at the interval.

Despite a lack of attacking fluency, Spurs continued to exert pressure on the Clarets from corners, with Eric Dier firing in after the hosts failed to properly clear Christian Eriksen’s delivery.

Vincent Janssen, making his first Premier League start of 2017, became the third Tottenham player forced off injured but that allowed the introduction of Son Heung-min.

And the South Korea striker made sure of victory as he tapped in Alli’s squared pass on 77 minutes as Spurs controlled the final stages.

Victory, coupled with Chelsea’s shock 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace, ensures Mauricio Pochettino’s side stay in contention for the title with nine games remaining.

A perennial worry with Tottenham is whether they possess the depth required to match the undoubted quality of their starting side and sustain a season-long challenge.

Victory over Southampton in the absence of injured striker Harry Kane last time out suggested those concerns could be consigned to the past, only to reappear in the first half at Turf Moor.

Kyle Walker’s deputy Kieran Tripper made several mistakes against his former club, Winks was guilty of trying to force passes in midfield and Janssen was again ineffective, lacking the pace and guile to test the organised duo of Michael Keane and Ben Mee.

While not in the circumstances Spurs would have wanted, the added quality of Mousa Dembele and especially Son ultimately ensured a more comfortable afternoon.

The Korean’s movement was vital in opening up a tiring Burnley as Alli made amends for his earlier uncharacteristic miss to calmly find the striker free to side-foot in.

After the game, Pochettino said Kane could be back “in a few weeks,” yet in the meantime Son could again prove a stellar stand-in, while Janssen’s spell on the sidelines looks set to resume.

Burnley’s feted home form this season had seen them only lose to Arsenal, Manchester City and Swansea before this game and they once again followed a similar blueprint of pressing and cutting off lines of passing to frustrate superior opposition.

Andre Gray and Ashley Barnes kept the Tottenham defence honest through the first half, while Keane and Mee easily repelled much of what Spurs attempted.

Yet the Clarets were undone by a rare lapse in concentration at a set-piece as Jeff Hendrick failed to firmly decide whether to let Eriksen’s corner run or hack it clear, only to put the ball straight into Dier’s path for the opener.

The hosts looked notably tired and bereft of ideas in the final 20 minutes as they fell to 15th, five points above the relegation zone.

Home games against Stoke City, Manchester United, West Brom and West Ham during the run-in should see Sean Dyche’s side pick up enough points to avoid a relegation scrap, but they may rue a missed opportunity to secure a point here.

Manager reaction

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino: “We showed great character and I’m very proud and pleased because the performance in the second half was very good.

“This win is massive for us – we have to be there if Chelsea fail and we are there. We are fighting for the Premier League.

“When you reduce the gap to seven points it’s completely different to 10 points – we just have to be there if Chelsea fail and want to be there until the end of the season.”

Burnley boss Sean Dyche: “Up until the first goal we were solid and kept them from using the lines of passing that they like.

“We created some good positions but not good chances and then gave away a really poor goal.

“That lifted them and they looked more assured after that and showed what a tope side they are.”

(BBC Sport)

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