Sunday, May 22, 2022

South Korean football player Son Heung-min double boosts Spurs' top-four hopes

South Korean football player Son Heung-min double boosts Spurs' top-four hopes
May 2, 2022 Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Son Heung-min continued his prolific season, striking twice after Harry Kane had opened the scoring as Tottenham Hotspur beat Leicester City 3-1 at home on Sunday to boost their hopes of Champions League qualification.

The win moved Spurs a point above North London rivals Arsenal into fourth place in the Premier League, at least for a few hours, with the Gunners at West Ham United later on Sunday.

"Despite making eight changes the Leicester team was good and strong so for this reason we have to be delighted we got three points," said Spurs boss Antonio Conte.

"No one could have imagined when I arrived in November we could be in the (Champions League) race still, but these players are deserving to fight for such an important place. It is not easy to qualify for the Champions League in England."

Son has now scored 19 league goals this season, three fewer than top scorer Mohamed Salah of Liverpool, and the South Korean's second goal was certainly one of his finest.

Patson Daka had given Spurs an early fright when he hit the post in the 14th minute but eight minutes later Kane put the hosts in front, losing his marker to meet a Son corner with a powerful header.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers rued his side's poor defensive display, calling the final scoreline slightly harsh.

"Defending corners has been a problem for us all season -- we lack aggression... it was so disappointing. It is something we will have to look at in the summer. The mentality to head the ball is missing," he said.

Spurs were comfortably in charge of the game but it was not until the introduction of Dejan Kulusevski from the bench in the 55th minute that they drove home their superiority.

After a fine, sliding tackle from Cristian Romero won back the ball for Spurs, Kulusevski set up Son with a short ball into the box and the South Korean was given enough space to rotate and drill his finish into the bottom corner.

Then Swedish winger Kulusevski was the provider again, cutting in from the right and feeding Son who opened up and beat Kasper Schmeichel with a wonderful curling shot into the far, top corner.

Son received a thunderous standing ovation from the 59,000 crowd when he was substituted, three minutes after his goal.

Leicester received some reward for their efforts when Kelechi Iheanacho scored in stoppage time with a low drive off the inside of the post.

Son dismissed talk of him winning the Golden Boot but had clearly enjoyed his second goal.

"I was happy to score that really beautiful goal. When I hit it I could see the way the ball flied and I was happy to score that. But I'm more happy to play well and get the three points," he said.

"If I get the chances then I will try to score. The Golden Boot is always a dream but the team is most important. We want to finish in the Champions League and I want to play in the Champions League," added Son.

Spurs are on 61 points from 34 games with Arsenal in fifth on 60 points from 33 matches.