Tottenham threw down the gauntlet to Arsenal in the race for fourth place with a, belatedly, comfortable 3-1 win over Leicester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Spurs started well but the crowd grew restless as their team failed to make their possession count.
Hugo Lloris was the first keeper to be called into action and a fine fingertip save denied Patson Daka an opener.
After 22 minutes, Spurs took the lead when Harry Kane escaped his marker to head home a Son Heung-Min corner.
Kane almost doubled Spurs’ lead when he stole onto a short backpass but Kasper Schmeichel charged out decisively to deny the England captain.
Leicester had good spells of possession as the half wore on but never again tested Lloris. Ayoze Perez’s scuffed shot almost fell to a sliding Daka but the Zambian couldn’t connect.
The second half was tightly balanced until the introduction of Dejan Kulusevski in place of Lucas Moura.
Moura had struggled to impact the game and his combination with Emerson Royal had been off-kilter, leaving Spurs’ right largely ineffectual.
As if he had a point to prove after being benched, Kulusevski was immediately on fire down Leicester’s left and he made the crucial second goal for Spurs.
Christian Romero delivered two thunderous challenges in as many seconds, the second of which saw the ball squirt into the path of Kulusevski.
The Swede danced into the Leicester box, waiting for his moment, then slipped a clever pass to Son. The South Korean spun on the penalty spot and ripped a low shot into the corner for 2-0.
From that point, Tottenham were right on top and Kulusevski was leading the charge.
A delightful drag back and flick shortly after the goal left a Leicester defender floored and had the Tottenham crowd on their feet.
Brendan Rodgers threw on Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans in an attempt to change things but with Leicester pushing forward, the game took up the ideal pattern for an Antonio Conte team.
Spurs were able to stay compact and play fluently out from the back, seemingly creating a chance with every turnover.
On 79 minutes, Son locked down the victory with a truly sensational strike.
Unhurried at the edge of Leicester’s box, Son unleashed a looping strike that only just dipped in time, and Kasper Schmeichel had no hope of saving.
Spurs’ South Korean reached 19 Premier League goals for the season, his personal best tally, and Tottenham take possession of fourth place despite Kelechi Iheanacho’s late consolation strike.
Super-sub Dejan Kulusevski. Spurs fans were largely shocked by Kulusevski’s omission from the starting lineup but Conte timed his introduction perfectly. With the match finely poised at 1-0 after an hour, Kulusevski replaced the largely ineffectual Lucas Moura and put on a brilliant display. Kulusevski got two assists, including the clever (and patient) pass for Son’s crucial first goal, and roasted Leicester’s left flank. The Swedish winger showed his pace, his trickery and his intelligence with a match-winning display from the substitute’s bench. Kulusevski now has eight assists and three goals in 14 appearances since joining in January and must be making a late run for Young Player of the Year.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Heung-Min Son delivered the three points with moments of absolute genius and looks to have found the form which had deserted him in recent weeks. Son got the assist for Kane’s opener from a corner, found time in the Leicester box to spin and finish for the crucial second goal and then added a magnificent strike late to seal victory. Not only did Son provide an assist and score twice, he was heavily involved in build-up play, taking more touches and making more passes than any other Tottenham forward.
Spurs: Lloris 6; Romero 8, Dier 7, Davies 6; Emerson Royal 6, Bentancur 7, Højbjerg 7, Sessegnon 6; Lucas Moura 5, Kane 7, Son 9. Substitutes: Kulusevski 8, Winks N/A, Bergwijn N/A
Leicester: Schmeichel 6; Castagne 6, Amartey 6, Söyüncü 5, Thomas 6; Soumaré 6, Mendy 5; Albrighton 5, Iheanacho 6, Pérez 7; Daka 6. Substitutes: Vardy: 6, Brunt 4, Tielemans 5 –
13’ Save Hugo Lloris: Tottenham’s captain is at full stretch and just gets his fingertips to Patson Daka’s low shot, pushing it onto the upright and out for a corner.
22’ Goal Tottenham: Heung-Min Son’s corner finds an unmarked Harry Kane for the opener. Kane reaches 13 Premier League goals for the season.
32’ Save Kasper Schmeichel: Kane pounces on a loose backpass but Schmeichel charges out decisively to deny the England captain a second goal.
61’ Goal Tottenham: Substitute Dejan Kulusevski makes an instant impact, picking up a loose ball following an excellent Crisitan Romero tackle and dancing into the box before finding Son, who spins on the penalty spot and scores.
74’ Save Hugo Lloris: Kelechi Iheanacho surges onto a through ball but Lloris reacts quickly enough to smother the ball at the Nigerian forward’s feet.
79’ Goal Tottenham: Heung-Min Son receives the ball under no pressure at the edge of the Leicester box and shifts it onto his left foot before unleashing a spectacular looping shot that drops into the top corner, giving Schmeichel no hope of saving it.
90’ Goal Leicester: Iheanacho wriggles away from Harry Winks and surprises Lloris with a powerful low shot from outside the box.