Sun, May 07, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Spurs in pain as defeat eases Chelsea’s path

AP, LONDON

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris goes for a save as West Ham United’s Manuel Lanzini controls the ball during their game at the London Stadium on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

After Chelsea’s path to the Premier League title was cleared, Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was left frustrated, bewildered and hurt.

Without a title since 1961, Tottenham had fought so hard to trim Chelsea’s lead in recent weeks but on Friday squandered the opportunity to slash it to a single point. A 1-0 loss against West Ham United enables Chelsea to secure the trophy before Tottenham even play again.

The collapse at the Olympic Stadium was out of character for the current crop of Tottenham players.

A team who invigorated the title race with daring, attacking play, suddenly ran out of ideas in the London derby.

A nine-match winning run — Tottenham’s longest since their previous title-winning season in 1960-1961 — came to an end meekly to leave the team four points behind Chelsea.

“The right question to ask ourselves is: ‘Are we capable to increase, especially in the moments under pressure all together in a big game, the level?’” Lloris said. “The way we played football was so excellent [this season], that’s why it’s even more frustrating today [Friday], because I didn’t recognize Tottenham. So it hurts even more today.”

It was only Tottenham’s fourth loss in 35 games this campaign, but the other setbacks came against more illustrious opposition: Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.

Chelsea have four games remaining — one more than Tottenham — and will capture their second title in three seasons by beating Middlesbrough tomorrow and West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

Tottenham’s task now is holding on for their highest finish in 54 years in the remaining three games.

“To win a league, to win a trophy, there are key moments,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “And today was a key moment... It’s not about always playing well or badly, it’s not about running more or less, it’s about when you must win you win.”

In the early game yesterday, Manchester City strengthened their Premier League top-four aspirations with a 5-0 thrashing of a woeful Crystal Palace side at the Etihad Stadium.

City never looked back after David Silva’s 50th goal for the club in the second minute, although it was not until the second half that the floodgates opened.

Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi were all on target.

Victory moved City into third place with 69 points, above Liverpool on goal difference.

Fifth-placed Manchester United, who are to play Arsenal today, have 65.

Palace’s third consecutive defeat means they are still anxiously looking over their shoulders at the teams below them.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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