EPL Wrap: Son helps Tottenham keep pressure on Chelsea with win over Watford
LONDON (AP) — South Korea forward Son Heung-min scored two goals and was involved in two others as Tottenham thrashed Watford 4-0 in the Premier League on Saturday, earning an 11th straight home win that kept the pressure on first-placed Chelsea.
Dele Alli and Eric Dier also scored at a sun-kissed White Hart Lane for Spurs, who moved to within four points of Chelsea with seven games remaining. The leader visits Bournemouth later Saturday.
On a virtually perfect day for Tottenham, top scorer Harry Kane made his return from four weeks out injured as a 61st-minute substitute. By then, the score was already 4-0 — mainly thanks to Son.
Son has stepped up in the absence of Kane, scoring now in three successive games — having also found the net against Burnley and Swansea over the past week.
His first contribution was to provide a lay-off for Alli, who curled a shot into the top corner from 25 meters (yards) in the 33rd minute.
Dier then slammed home a low finish from the edge of the area in the 39th after Son's cross from the left wing was deflected out.
A tough 11-minute spell for Watford was capped by Son picking up Christian Eriksen's short pass, running forward and burying a low, left-foot shot from 20 meters in the 44th.
A club-record sixth straight win in the Premier League was already secure but Tottenham wanted more — and so did Son.
Kieran Trippier, deputizing for the rested Kyle Walker at right back, crossed to the far post and Son arrived to apply a calm, side-footed volley inside goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes' near post in the 54th.
Son, who moved onto 11 league goals for the season, wasted a great chance to grab his hat trick after being unselfishly played through by Kane in the 81st. One on one with Gomes, Son placed his shot wide and held his head in his hands. He was doing the same moments later when he sent a dipping shot against the crossbar.
With the last kick of the game, Kane slammed a free kick against the crossbar.
Watford, which rested captain Troy Deeney and was playing a patched-up defense, has not beaten Tottenham in a league match at White Hart Lane since November 1985.
Spurs' 11th straight home win in a single season matched a club record in the top flight, set in 1922.
BOURNEMOUTH, England (AP) — Chelsea answered Tottenham's win with its own by beating Bournemouth 3-1 to restore its seven-point lead in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Tottenham, Chelsea's only remaining title rival, applied pressure by defeating Watford 4-0 hours earlier.
But Chelsea got going early through a fortuitous own goal and Eden Hazard's calm finish.
Josh King pulled one back for Bournemouth, only for Marcos Alonso's stunning free kick to seal victory for Chelsea.
The effectiveness of Antonio Conte's wing backs in his preferred 3-4-3 formation was apparent once more as the returning Victor Moses played a crucial role in the opener before Alonso produced a moment of individual brilliance.
Moses, who has been absent for Chelsea's last two games, took just 17 minutes to show his importance again as he surged down the right and centered for Diego Costa, whose miskicked effort deflected in off the unfortunate Adam Smith.
But Bournemouth did not lie down.
Benik Afobe struck the post with a well-controlled volley from Charlie Daniels' cross.
Bournemouth's luck turned just before the break when Josh King's powerful effort from the edge of the box flew into the top corner via a deflection from David Luiz, leaving Thibaut Courtois with no chance.
The home side continued to make Chelsea uncomfortable after halftime until Alonso delivered the decisive blow in the 68th.
Costa won a free kick 25 yards out and Alonso did the rest. Boruc could only watch as the ball curled into his top corner.
Manchester City 3-1 Hull City
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester City got its Champions League qualification hopes back on track by beating English Premier League struggler Hull 3-1 on Saturday.
A stunning team move finished by Sergio Aguero and a Fabian Delph strike ensured City ended a run of four EPL games without a win after an Ahmed Elmohamady own goal gave it the lead.
Having been effectively eliminated from the title race by its defeat to leader Chelsea on Wednesday, City's focus is on securing qualification for Europe's top competition next season.
Despite the defeat, Hull remained two points clear of the relegation zone, as its chief relegation-threatened rival Swansea also lost at West Ham.
Hull managed to contain City early on but came unstuck in the 31st minute when makeshift right back Jesus Navas' cross evaded Aguero, but was poked into his own net by Elmohamady under pressure from Leroy Sane at the back post.
The hosts doubled their lead after halftime with a stunning team move, during which every City player touched the ball.
With recalled goalkeeper Claudio Bravo having held possession moments earlier, the ball found its way to Raheem Sterling in the final third, and he burst into the Hull box and centered for Aguero to score.
Any remaining doubts were put aside in the 64th when Delph punctuated a second consecutive EPL start with a fine drive from the edge of the box.
Hull grabbed a late consolation when substitute Shaun Maloney set up Andrea Ranocchia to finish from close range five minutes from time.
Liverpool 2-1 Stoke City
STOKE, England (AP) — Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho came off the bench to inspire Liverpool to a 2-1 comeback victory over Stoke in the English Premier League on Saturday.
With Liverpool trailing to a Jonathan Walters header at halftime, the Brazilian duo emerged from the reserves to score within two minutes of each other.
The match-winning pair was rested by manager Juergen Klopp as his side contested its third Premier League game in six days, but another 45 minutes on the sideline proved to be enough before the pair were sent on to secure a victory that strengthened Liverpool's Champions League qualification hopes.
The Reds remained third, and extended their advantage over fifth- and sixth-placed Arsenal and Manchester City to nine points, although the chasing duo hold three games in hand.
Xherdan Shaqiri made an instant impact as he returned to action for the first time since January to cross for Walters to give Stoke the lead with a near post header right before halftime.
Having appeared out of sorts in the first half without two of its most talented attacking players, Liverpool was a different side after Coutinho and Firmino were introduced at the break.
Coutinho's corner was headed onto the crossbar by Lovren on the hour, before he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Emre Can's cross fell into Coutinho's path in the center of the penalty area, and he finished accurately into the bottom corner to level in the 70th.
Two minutes later, Firmino latched onto Georginio Wijnaldum's throughball, letting it bounce once and striking a spectacular volley high into the net.
Liverpool held on for its first away victory in the league this year.
Southampton 1-0 West Brom
WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) — Southampton kept up its late-season revival in the English Premier League by beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0, thanks to Jordy Clasie's first-half goal on Saturday.
The midfielder shot into the top corner from the edge of the area from Dusan Tadic's lay-off in the 25th minute at The Hawthorns.
Southampton has lost only one of its last six matches, winning four of them, to climb into the top half of the standings.
The ninth-placed Saints moved to within four points of West Brom directly above them, and have two games in hand.
West Ham 1-0 Swansea
LONDON (AP) — West Ham took a big step toward Premier League survival as it defeated relegation rival Swansea 1-0 Saturday.
Cheikhou Kouyate's long-range strike on the stroke of halftime was enough to ensure Slaven Bilic's side ended a run of seven EPL games without victory — including five straight defeats.
The win moves West Ham eight points above the relegation zone, while Swansea is two points from safety.
West Ham started well and came close with a header by the recalled Robert Snodgrass. Andre Ayew was denied a goal against his former club by a fine save from Swansea 'keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
The Hammers received a blow in the 40th minute when Michail Antonio, perhaps its best player this season, was forced off with what could be a season-ending hamstring injury.
Before Antonio's loss could be dwelt on, Kouyate gave the home side the lead in the 44th. He collected Snodgrass's layoff and strode forward before directing a powerful strike from 25 yards (meters) out into the bottom corner.
Both sides had chances after the break with Ayew and Antonio's replacement, Jonathan Calleri, coming close for West Ham. Luciano Narsingh had an opportunity for the visitors.
Middlesbrough 0-0 Burnley
MIDDLESBROUGH, England (AP) — Middlesbrough wasted a good chance to boost its slim survival hopes as the Premier League's lowest-scoring team drew 0-0 at home to Burnley on Saturday.
Having collected only three points away from home all season, Burnley was an ideal opponent for next-to-last Middlesbrough but there was a lack of cutting edge from both teams.
Alvaro Negredo had a shot well saved by Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, while Daniel Ayala had a header cleared off the line for the hosts.
The point moved Middlesbrough six points from safety with seven games left, but it will need to dramatically improve a record of just 22 goals this season.