Harry Kane scored twice more as Tottenham Hotspur recovered from last weekend’s Capital One Cup final defeat with a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, a result that saw Mauricio Pochettino’s side move up to sixth place in the Premier League table.
Six days removed from their defeat at Wembley, Spurs spent most of the first half on the back foot but went ahead through Kane’s 34th-minute header. The White Hart Lane side started the second half brightly and doubled their lead in the 68th minute as Kane finished calmly after racing free behind QPR’s defence.
QPR—who hit the woodwork twice in the first half—pulled a goal back through Sandro in the 75th minute and had a penalty appeal turned down controversially moments later. But after a tense final 10 minutes, the hosts were unable to avoid a defeat that could prove damaging in their bid to avoid relegation.
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The goals were Kane’s 25th and 26th in all competitions during his breakout campaign, and significantly, they came with England manager Roy Hodgson watching from the Loftus Road stands. The Three Lions host Lithuania on March 27 in a Euro 2016 qualifier, and Kane’s form this season suggests he will receive consideration for a spot on Hodgson’s roster.
Saturday’s match—the lone fixture on the Premier League schedule this weekend—came at a crucial time for Tottenham, who lost to Chelsea last Sunday in the Capital One Cup final three days after crashing out of the UEFA Europa League.
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With his team’s trophy prospects snuffed out, Pochettino must now turn his attention to the quest for a top-four finish. Spurs entered the day six points—with a game in hand—behind fourth-placed Manchester United in the race for the Premier League’s final Champions League spot, and victory at Loftus Road can only give Tottenham confidence for the run-in.
Points are at a premium for QPR as well, with Chris Ramsey’s side starting the weekend in the relegation places. Defeat left Rangers three points adrift of 17th-placed Aston Villa, but with 10 matches remaining this season, hope is far from lost.
Both teams created chances in the opening minutes, with QPR carving out the first opportunity less than a minute into the game. With the ball hanging high above the box, Bobby Zamora sent a looping header off the top of the crossbar, though QPR’s players claimed Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had taken a touch.
Spurs’ first chance came in the sixth minute as Kyle Walker curled a cross from the right flank into the danger area. The ball met Kane, who powered a header on target, only to see QPR goalkeeper Robert Green make a fine reaction save.
Calamity nearly struck Tottenham in the 19th minute as Walker attempted a pass to Lloris with an ill-advised backwards header. The ball flew straight to QPR striker Charlie Austin inside the box, but Lloris reacted alertly to push the ball away to safety.
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QPR came close again in the 22nd minute, when Zamora won a header in the attacking third, allowing Austin to run onto the ball in the box. Austin knocked the ball back into the path of Matthew Phillips, who rifled a low shot wide of the near post.
The hosts hit the woodwork again in the 29th minute. Steven Caulker started the sequence with an interception before Phillips rolled a pass to the edge of the area. After latching onto the ball, Austin drove into the box before firing high off the crossbar.
QPR had posed the greater threat to that point, but the opening goal would come at the other end, leaving Green wishing he had done better. In the 34th minute, Andros Townsend curled in a free-kick from the right, depositing the ball directly in front of goal.
Leaping over Nedum Onuoha, Kane headed in past the onrushing Green for a 1-0 Tottenham lead.
Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey couldn’t help but wonder the implications for England’s national team:
Finding themselves trailing by a goal, QPR appealed for a penalty in the 39th minute as Mauricio Isla went to ground following a challenge that saw Lloris clear a Caulker pass into the box.
Referee Craig Pawson denied the appeals, however, and allowed play to continue.
Football Radar’s Jack Rathborn chalked that up to a stroke of bad luck for QPR:
Green had to be alert in stoppage time to keep QPR within one goal, diving to his right to keep out Walker’s redirected effort—which took a touch off Ryan Mason—at the far post.
Leading by a goal at the interval, Tottenham created the second half’s first big chance in the 47th minute. Cutting inside from the left flank onto his favoured right foot, Christian Eriksen smacked a powerful long-distance effort around Green and off the far upright. The ball rebounded to Kane, who seemed destined to score but instead sliced his shot well off target.
Townsend had the next chance for Spurs in the 50th minute, latching onto an errant pass before shooting off target with his preferred left foot from outside the box.
QPR began pushing bodies forward in the attack, and Tottenham nearly hit their hosts on the counter in the 53rd minute. After the two played a combination along the edge of the box, Eriksen rolled a cross-shot inches past Nacer Chadli in front of QPR’s goal.
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At the other end, Lloris batted away Zamora’s powerful near-post strike in the 57th minute. Two minutes later, Austin blocked an Eriksen shot off QPR’s line as the visitors pushed for a second goal.
It finally came in the 68th minute, and inevitably, Kane was the scorer again. Played behind the defence by Mason’s lofted pass over QPR’s back line, Kane held his nerve to round Green and slot into the empty net for a 2-0 Spurs lead.
The match appeared finished, but QPR pulled a goal back in the 75th minute as Sandro scored against his former side. Austin started the sequence on the right flank, rolling a cross into the danger area for Zamora, who cushioned an inviting back pass to Sandro. With his first touch, he side-footed into the bottom corner at the near post to give QPR hope for the final 15 minutes.
QPR appealed for another penalty in the 77th minute after Nabil Bentaleb blocked an attempted shot by Austin with his hands. Pawson again turned down the home side’s appeals as Rangers’ supporters howled in protest.
With a renewed sense of purpose in attack, QPR came close again in the 84th minute as substitute Junior Hoilett shot high and wide from a good position on the left side of the box. But that turned out to be the last chance for the home side, who were unable to avoid a third straight league defeat.
|Junior Hoilett (for Isla, 71′)||5.8|
|Reece Grego-Cox (for Henry, 88′)||6.0|
|Shaun Wright-Phillips (for Sandro, 90′)||6.0|
Ratings via WhoScored.com
|Mousa Dembele (for Townsend, 65′)||6.3|
|Erik Lamela (for Chadli, 79′)||6.0|
|Benjamin Stambouli (for Eriksen, 88′)||6.0|
Ratings via WhoScored.com
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, via BBC Sport:
The reaction after going out of Europe has been fantastic. It was difficult after the defeat against Fiorentina. I think the response has been fantastic from the squad in the big games that have followed. We have to go away and now train hard to focus on our next match against Manchester United.
It’s difficult to say anything else about Harry (Kane). His performance today shows his strength to keep working. It’s Roy Hodgson’s decision if he plays for England or not, but all of us here in the Tottenham family are happy with him.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane, via BBC Sport:
We’ve had a disappointing couple of weeks so we had to build momentum and get up the league. Which we have done with two good results. Andros put in a great ball in great area and that’s it, back of the net. The second one I was happy to round the keeper and put it in the back of the net.
I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. There are still a few more games until the international break so I just need to do the best I can for Spurs.