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Individual brilliance could fire Tottenham to Champions League place

H

eung-min Son and Cristian Romero made the difference as Tottenham got their top-four push back on track and heaped the pressure on to rivals Arsenal with a 3-1 win over Leicester in north London.

For the majority of a scrappy game, there was little between Spurs and a much-changed Foxes, who are prioritising Thursday’s Europa Conference League decider against Roma, but the hosts’ individual quality told after the break, with Son scoring twice and Romero imperious at centre-half.

The South Korean’s second goal was stunning curling effort from the edge of the box to make it 3-0, leaving Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg with his head in his hands, while Harry Kane showed flashes of brilliance and opened the scoring in the first half with his 19th goal in 18 appearances against Leicester.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored a stoppage-time consolation for the visitors, who struck the post through Patson Daka at 0-0 but were undone by Son after Brendan Rodgers made eight chances ahead of the trip to Rome.

This was not the most polished or convincing display from Antonio Conte’s side but, at this stage of this season, points are the only thing that matter and the win move Spurs one ahead of Arsenal, who face West Ham in the later kick-off.

Kane predictability opened the scoring, making it 17 goals in 14 League games against his former loan club, while Son continued to prove that he does not need to be especially involved in games to be the most important player on the pitch.

Romero, meanwhile, was outstanding, a class above in everything he did. The Argentine’s ferocious tackling set the tone for Spurs to kick-on in the second half and actually proved an attacking weapon in itself when he won the ball in the crunching challenge on Caglar Soyuncu in the build-up to Son’s all-important second goal.

Dejan Kulusevski was also decisive, responding to being rested by coming off the bench and making both of Son’s goals, the first with a clever pass.

But Son was really the star, moving ahead of Mohamed Salah for non-penalty goals this season, suggesting he still remains something of an underrated force.

Rather than dominating matches, he is increasingly a clutch player in the final third, assisting or scoring when they need a jolt.

He set Spurs on their way with a corner for Kane to stoop and score at the near post.

If his first goal was a poacher’s finish inside the box, the second goal was inspired, as Son curled into the top corner with his left foot from 20 yards, leaving Kaspar Schmeichel with no chance.

This win was an important reminder that while Spurs remain a work in progress under Conte, they have the individuals at both ends of the pitch to win any of their final four matches, even next weekend’s visit to Liverpool, when Kane and Son should relish the space behind the hosts’ high line.

A frustration for Conte is that none of his stars had stepped up in the meek displays against Brighton and Brentford, although a Leicester side who are hard-wired to play on the front-foot were also likely to be a more attractive opponent for Conte’s side.

While Arsenal are arguably a more well-rounded side than Spurs, further ahead in their development under Mikel Arteta, if this game is anything to go by, Spurs’ individual brilliance and world-class front two could be an important factor in the race for the Champions League.

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