Tottenham 3 Hull 0: Christian Eriksen inspired Tottenham to a workmanlike victory over Hull which keeps them within touching distance of the top four — but they will have to improve if they wish to usurp any of the current occupants.
The gifted Dane scored either side of half-time to take his tally to five goals in his last four Premier League games but his display was one of few highlights in an otherwise uninspiring performance from the north London club.
Victor Wanyama buried any hopes of a Hull comeback with a late third goal which added an undeserved gloss to the scoreline against a visiting side who are facing a long and miserable fight against relegation in the New Year.
Wins last night for Manchester City and Liverpool mean that victory keeps Mauricio Pochettino’s side just three points outside the Champions League spots but the manager will know that much sterner tests await.
With Mousa Dembele out with a foot injury, the Argentinean was forced to shuffle his pack, and pick yet another formation,
with Eric Dier alongside Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld at the back. Christian Eriksen and Victor Wanyama sat in front of them, allowing Moussa Sissoko and Dele Alli to support Harry Kane in attack.
It gave license to the wing-backs Kyle Walker and Danny Rose to get forward even more than usual and it was the latter who supplied the first goal. Having sprinted down the left-hand side, Rose turned back inside and teed up Eriksen to fire the hosts into a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.
Having started the evening just a point off the foot of the table, it was looking bleak for a Hull side who have beaten Spurs just once since 1977.
With four ex-Tottenham players in their squad, Hull resembled the ghost of Christmas past for the home side. A past where the likes of Tom Huddlestone, Michael Dawson and Jake Livermore would try and fail to haul the club into the top four.
But these are changing times for Spurs, highlighted by the new stadium which is flying up behind the Lane with each passing week. And on the pitch the manager insists his side can still win the title despite starting last night 10 points back from leaders Chelsea.
Mike Phelan’s men looked totally incapable of putting a dent in their hopes during an uninspiring first-half showing. Hull were lucky to reach the break just one goal down as Vertonghen set off on an extraordinary run past Hull’s midfield and defence before his effort was blocked en route to goal.
However the Tottenham of old also had a penchant for making life difficult for themselves. And, having enjoyed almost complete control in the first half, the hosts made a sloppy start to the second, gleaning groans from the home fans.
And the scores were almost level in the 59th when Adama Diomande led a counter-attack before feeding Livermore, who saw his first shot blocked by Rose and his second one saved brilliantly by Hugo Lloris.
Pochettino responded by withdrawing Alli for Harry Winks, which allowed Eriksen to push further forward, and within a minute the Dane had his notched a second. This time Walker made it, racing onto Dier’s dinked pass before crossing low for Eriksen to apply the finish.
He went within inches of his hat-trick 18 minutes from time when his 25-yard free-kick was tipped onto the post by David Marshall but Victor Wanyama was on had to clatter home the rebound.
Lloris; Dier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Walker, Wanyama Eriksen, Rose; Sissoko (Onomah 84), Alli (Winks 61); Kane (Son 73).
Marshall; Elmohamady, Maguire, Dawson, Davies, Robertson; Clucas (Mason 65), Huddlestone, Livermore (Meyler 74); Diomande, Snodgrass (Bowen 83).
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