'Spurs clear another mental hurdle to seal top-four spot'

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Tottenham hobbled over the line against Newcastle United on Wednesday night to secure Champions League football for next season as Chelsea slipped up against Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.

9th May 2018

Harry Kane’s goal was enough to see Spurs edge past Newcastle at Wembley.

The visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Jonjo Shelvey rattled the post with a free-kick and Jamaal Lascelles’ header forced Hugo Lloris into a five save.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s side were far from their best before the break, but Kane opened the scoring five minutes into the second half with a curled effort after some neat interplay with Dele Alli and Heung-min Son.

Newcastle had a number of chances to level things up, but Tottenham just about held on to seal their place in the top four as Chelsea could only draw 1-1 with Huddersfield.

Sweet relief

So there it is. Spurs have qualified for the Champions League for a third successive season. I have never felt such an affiliation with Huddersfield Town, whose draw at Chelsea ensured we’re not in for a unbearably nervy final day.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Tottenham fan who was confident about beating Newcastle and Leicester City in our final two games, which is what we believed was required.

I never imagined Huddersfield would get a point at Stamford Bridge, but everything worked out in the end.

Spurs can now enjoy the last game of the season knowing their place in the top four is secure. In fact, we could yet finish third – not bad for a team blighted by a Wembley hoodoo.

Hobbling over the line

Make no bones about it, Tottenham were extremely fortunate to beat Newcastle. This was arguably our worst performance of the season, but it ended up being our most important result.

Just about every player was off his game; even Jan Vertonghen, Spurs’ player of the season, was inaccurate with his passing and uncertain at the back.

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A better side than Newcastle – or at least a more clinical attacking outfit – would have left with at least a point.

Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama isn’t a midfield partnership I want to see again, and Kane showed no signs he is over the worst of his post-injury dip.

But such is his quality and his drive, the 24-year-old was on hand to provide the all-important goal.

Wanyama and Kieran Trippier limped off with injuries late on, forcing us to end the game with Toby Alderweireld at right-back and Danny Rose in holding midfield. I’ll never know how we got over the line.

Another mental hurdle cleared

Tottenham have endured three very different run-ins over the last three seasons. Having lost the title to Leicester two years ago, we collapsed and fell below Arsenal into third place.

Last term we finished the campaign on a high, scoring 13 goals in two games and securing second spot.

This year threatened to emulate 2015-16, but Spurs have managed to drag themselves through the mud and achieve their objective.

The mentality of this side is always improving – long may it continue to do so.

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