Euro exit could help Spurs hunt down Leicester, says Pochettino
Tottenham 3 - Bournemouth 0
Tottenham Hotspur are still five points behind Leicester City and know that they need favours to win the title. But at White Hart Lane yesterday, they looked like the best team in the country.
With all the pressure of expectation upon them, Spurs gave what Mauricio Pochettino described as a "complete performance", turning Eddie Howe's Bournemouth into mere spectators. The 3-0 result barely covers their absolute superiority.
When Spurs went in for the kill, Bournemouth could do nothing to stop them and once it was 2-0 after 16 minutes it felt as if the scoreline could have been whatever the home side wanted.
Tottenham settled on 3-0 in the end, extending their goal difference lead over Leicester to nine. They are still five points back, though, so they will need Claudio Ranieri's team to fail to win at least two of their remaining games.
"You never know," shrugged Pochettino when asked if his team can make up the gap. "It is true that we need to reduce to gap. But we need to believe, keep our standards high and go into the next game looking to perform like this again."
It will be easier for Spurs to keep playing like this now that they are out of the Europa League. Pochettino wants to win every game and competition, but he admitted there will be a benefit to their European elimination.
"We will have time to prepare games in a different way," Pochettino said. "To train and improve and do a lot of things that were impossible before. Our clear schedule should allow us to do double sessions once or twice a week. We need to see our future in a very good way."
At the forefront of everything Spurs did, as always, was Harry Kane. He remains Spurs' least replaceable player, and therefore the most important one. If it felt in February that Kane was tiring and fading, to Spurs' cost, that has been utterly disproved in March.
He scored his fourth and fifth goals in his last three league games - his 20th and 21st of the season - matching his tally from last year. His shot made the third and, in truth, he could have scored far more than he did.
The game was over as a contest after just 44 seconds. Hugo Lloris hit a quick kick out to Walker and the right-back raced down the wing and fired in a cross. Kane darted goal-side of Simon Francis and his touch diverted the ball into the goal.
After taking that early lead, Spurs raised their game, and their second goal, after 16 minutes, was brilliant. Kevin Wimmer's pass found Dele Alli in space, and he cleverly slipped the ball through to Kane, who finished with his left foot.
Kane has already scored one hat-trick against Bournemouth this season. When Artur Boruc could not hold on to his 30-yard drive, Christian Eriksen tapped in the rebound. Howe said: "They have been excellent against us. There is a lot that we can take from them."
TOTTENHAM: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose, Dembélé, Dier (Chadli 90), Lamela (Carroll 66), Eriksen, Alli (Mason 82), Kane.
Goals: Kane 1, 16 Eriksen 52
Subs not used: Son Heung-min, Vorm, Trippier, Walker-Peters.
BOURNEMOUTH: Boruc, Smith, Francis, Cook, Daniels, Ritchie, Surman, Arter (O'Kane 45), Gradel (Pugh 70), King, Afobe (Grabban 45).
Subs not used: Gosling, Elphick, Federici, Distin.
Man of the match: Kane
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Neil Swarbrick