Super Spurs blast out title warning after Manchester United win
Tottenham 3 - Man Utd 0
This was not what a team that believes the title race is over looks like. Tottenham Hotspur blew away Manchester United at White Hart Lane, scoring three goals in six second-half minutes and playing with the conviction of a side still hunting for the Premier League crown.
Spurs could have been discouraged by Leicester City's relentless grind to the title, and their 2-0 defeat of Sunderland earlier in the afternoon.
The gap between first and second when this game started was 10 points. And while Spurs took a while to find their rhythm, especially with the kick-off delayed by 30 minutes after the Red Devils got stuck in traffic, when Spurs switched on United could not live with them.
This was a performance of a side determined to exert as much pressure as possible on Leicester over the final stretch, desperate to ensure that if the Foxes do slip up, they will be there.
What they desperately need, and have been waiting on for months, is for Leicester to stop winning.
Pochettino said at his press conference on Friday that Spurs would need to win all of their last seven games to have any chance of winning the title. That is surely true, but here his players delivered the first part of that bargain.
It did take 25 minutes for Spurs to wake up, but when they started to go through the gears they were just faster, sharper and hungrier than a United side who again looked desperately short of energy, ideas and incision.
The best players on the pitch were Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela, each combining vision and technical skill with the hunger and aggression demanded by Pochettino.
Harry Kane should have scored from a Lamela cross and Lamela should have scored from an Eriksen cross during Spurs' best first-half spell, although both players were spared by offside flags.
Eric Dier almost turned in an Eriksen free-kick just before the break.
Tottenham continued to press in the second-half and when it felt as if time might run out - they had 20 minutes left - they beat United with three quick goals.
The first came when Lamela won the ball and Kane sprayed it left to Eriksen. Rather than try to beat Matteo Darmian on the outside, he looked up and played a brilliant first-time cross to Dele Alli, bounding into space and finishing well. The noise might have blown the roof off.
Four minutes later, Darmian fouled Kane and Lamela whipped in a perfect free-kick. Toby Alderweireld rose up above Marcos Rojo and headed the ball past David de Gea.
United had no response and were swept away by the next wave of white shirts just two minutes later. Danny Rose broke down the left, crossed and there was Lamela in the middle to finish emphatically. Lamela, Kane and Alderweireld all missed chances to add to the scoreline, which would still have been a fair reflection of the game.
Irrelevant in all of this were United, who looked like a mid-table team with nothing to play for during the second-half. They enjoyed some good possession in the first-half, but with no chances to show for it, as is often the case under Louis van Gaal.
There was also a melee sparked by Kyle Walker and Memphis Depay, with each being shown a yellow card.
At half-time Ashley Young came on to play up front, and United had one good chance when Anthony Martial shot at Hugo Lloris after going on a mazy run.
But beyond that there was very little to get excited about, and frustration that Manchester City in fourth place are now four points beyond them. The title race is even further away.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Dembélé, Lamela (Chadli 87), Alli (Mason 90),
Eriksen, Kane (Son Heung-min 89).
Goals: Alli 70, Alderweireld 74, Lamela 76. Subs not used: Vorm, Trippier, Wimmer, Carroll.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Fosu-Mensah (Darmian 68), Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Mata (Depay 76), Lingard, Martial, Rashford (Young 45).
Subs not used: Romero, Herrera, A Valencia, Fellaini.
Man of the match: Alli
Match rating: 7/10
Referee: Mike Dean