By Ryan Moran
- The Foxes fear Vardy’s suspension extension over comments to referee.
- Aston Villa have been relegated for the first time since 1987.
- Sunderland and Newcastle take big step towards survival.
Kane on top as Vardy talks his way out of title chase
As the Golden Boot competition draws ever nearer to a close, Jamie Vardy’s suspension could work in Harry Kane’s favour as he scored a brace in Tottenham’s 4-0 win. Those goals move the Tottenham man two above Vardy in the scoring charts.
Stoke City 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham’s English contingent of Kane and Dele Alli stole the show as the away side narrowed the deficit at the top to five points. The pair both scored twice as the London outfit outplayed the Potters on their own turf to keep their title dreams alive.
A curled effort from Kane gave Spurs an early lead after good work from Mousa Dembele in midfield. Christian Eriksen hit the bar just before half time from an Alli backheel but Stoke got to the halfway stage still in the game.
Alli doubled their lead midway through the second half, a deft chip to beat Shay Given after breezing through Stoke’s defence. A silky passing move saw Tottenham add a third four minutes later. Alli struck a post moments before a three pass move ended in Erik Lamela’s pass across the box was tucked home by Kane, his 24th of the season.
Alli squandered a number of chances for a potential hat trick, the most notable before he grabbed his second. The midfielder rounded Given only to strike the post as the right side of the goal was gaping. He finished a fourth for his side but couldn’t grab his hat trick.
A statement of intent was issued throughout the game at the Britannia Stadium as the second placed side could have easily surpassed the five goal mark. Alli’s numerous misses didn’t prove costly today but prevented the England international from increasing his individual tally. Ninth placed Stoke sit comfortably in a position they have owned for the past few seasons under Mark Hughes, a position they are likely to finish in for another season.
Leicester City 2-2 West Ham United
Refereeing inconsistencies marred a deadlock at the King Power Stadium. A late Leonardo Ulloa penalty earned a controversial point as Vardy saw two yellow cards, the second for diving. The ex-Fleetwood striker continued to rant at referee Jon Moss after being dismissed, his comments are being looked into with a view to his ban being extended to more than just one game. Vardy has until Thursday to appeal the decision.
The striker gave the Premier League leaders an early lead from a quick counter but his red card saw the game switch in the Hammers’ favour. In a tight fought game, Moss blew for a late West Ham penalty spotting pulling by Wes Morgan on Winston Reid at a corner. Andy Carroll converted from the spot and Aaron Cresswell put the away side into the lead with a left foot finish. One more twist in the tail came when Carroll turned from hero to villain, bringing down Jeff Schlupp for Ulloa to finish from the spot, a decision done to ‘even up’ the game in Carroll’s eyes.
A five-point lead still separates Leicester from Tottenham with four games to play and without Vardy to lead the line, a comeback is still possible. The Hammers have five games to snatch fifth place from Manchester United as the Olympic Stadium prepares to host Europa League football in its inaugural season as a football stadium.
Championship beckons for Aston Villa
Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa
Marcus Rashford scored the only goal at Old Trafford as Aston Villa were condemned to their inevitable relegation to the Championship. A lacklustre few years at Villa have finally concluded as the Birmingham based club start the long road to recovery.
Three managers have been and gone over a long season for Villa supporters. ‘Proud history, what future?’ has been the message as fans protests grew stronger as relegation drew more likely. Randy Lerner is still looking for a buyer and fans fear his uncertainty have led to poor signings and players not fighting for the Villa cause. With relegation now confirmed, what next for the Villans?
As for United, Rashford’s finish from Antonio Valencia’s pass was enough to see off the away side. Rudy Gestede struck a post late on with a volley but Eric Black’s side could not muster a goal on a devastating occasion for their fans.
Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland
The relegation dog fight hots up once again. Norwich are pulled back towards the drop zone as Sunderland record a key victory. The striking partnership of Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini bides well for their final run in in their fight for survival. The pair both scored and assisted each other’s goals before Duncan Watmore scored a late third to seal all three points.
Borini was fouled by Andre Wisdom after controlling Defoe’s pass, the Italian tucked away the resultant penalty. The ex-England striker has been a key component in the Black Cats’ campaign, providing the goal threat as goal after goal went in at the other end. The route one Tony Pulis Stoke style football worked as the pace of the strikers caused havoc among the Canaries’ defence.
Norwich struck a post through Nathan Redmond but were second best for much of the game. Watmore wasted chances before finding the net in second half stoppage time. The away side are now a point away from Norwich and have a goal difference seven goals superior to the East Anglian outfit.
Newcastle United 3-0 Swansea City
As their Wearside rivals recorded a 0-3 victory, Newcastle weren’t going to be outdone. Rafael Benitez recorded an emphatic first win in front of the home support. Jamaal Lascelles’ header gave the Magpies a first half lead before late goals from Moussa Sissoko and Andros Townsend confirmed the win.
In a game of two halves, the first dominated by the home side. The Magpies took a chance when on top in contrast to Swansea who were made to pay as Newcastle scored twice late on. Townsend’s impact has steered his side in the right direction since his arrival from Tottenham, assisting the opening goal and scoring the last. Having made a big impact at QPR a few seasons ago, the winger is having a similar effect at his new club, contributing where it counts.
Swansea are out of trouble but failed to build on their 1-0 win over Chelsea a week earlier. Francesco Guidolin met his aim of guiding the Swans to safety and will use the final stretch to give players a chance to impress ahead of a first full season in charge. The likes of Jefferson Montero were on show after fine performances against the champions but failed to have the same spark here. Newcastle are within three points of the Canaries but have an inferior goal difference. One of Sunderland or Newcastle will have to face the drop, joined by Norwich, or both; whoever can string a few results together in their last four or five games.
City cap off key week with big victory
Chelsea 0-3 Manchester City
City avenged their FA Cup defeat with a resounding victory at Chelsea’s former fortress, Stamford Bridge. After confirming a place in the Champions League semi-finals in midweek, with victory over PSG, three points kept a four-point deficit from their City rivals, United.
A Sergio Aguero hat trick dispatched a 10-man Chelsea side experiencing back to back defeats for the first time since Guus Hiddink’s arrival. The Blues will now be without Thibaut Courtois for the next two games after seeing red for bringing down Fernandinho in the box.
The away side found great success on the counter attack as former Blue Kevin De Bruyne assisted Aguero to beat Courtois for the opening goal of the game. The Belgian was instrumental in the second, finding Samir Nasri who assisted the Argentine’s second and City’s second. Courtois’ foul led to Aguero securing his hat trick from the spot to condemn Chelsea to a second straight defeat.
For City, Champions League qualification is only four league wins away if they don’t win the European competition. For Chelsea, the likes of Bertrand Traore, Kenedy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are being given chance after chance under Hiddink in a bid to impress incoming boss Antonio Conte. This campaign has all been all but written off with next season’s preparation in full effect.
Of the other fixtures:
Everton 1-1 Southampton
West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Watford
Bournemouth 1-2 Liverpool
Arsenal 1-1 Crystal Palace
Newcastle United vs Manchester City kick off a midweek fixture list as teams catch up on missed fixtures from cup participation, starting at 19:45 BST on 19th April.
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