Top four spot secured in style with final-day victory - report and reaction
Norwich City 0-5 Spurs
Sun 22 May 2022, 18:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Champions League football will return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium next season as we demolished Norwich City on Sunday afternoon to secure fourth place in the Premier League.
And with Heung-Min Son firing in a double in our 5-0 win at Carrow Road, it means he jointly won the Premier League Golden Boot award with Liverpool’s Mo Salah – both players finishing on 23 goals as Salah also netted on Sunday.
Starting the day in fourth place, two points ahead of Arsenal, we only needed a point to ensure a top four finish due to our superior goal difference and we took the lead in the 16th minute as our two January signings combined, Rodrigo Bentancur setting up Dejan Kulusevski to finish from close range. And the Uruguayan international also assisted for our second, pouncing on a pass out from goalkeeper Tim Krul to deliver a cross which Harry Kane headed home.
That put us in a commanding position at half-time but there was no let-up after the break as we stamped our authority on the game and on that coveted fourth place. We’d missed some good chances even before Kulusevski latched onto Kane’s pass and curled home a sumptuous left-footed effort for 3-0.
Then it was Son’s time to shine! He’d already seen Krul pull off two excellent saves to deny him when he finally got his goal, sliding home from the edge of the area for his 22nd of the season. And the South Korean forward added another with a truly sensational strike in the 75th minute, curling right-footed from 20 yards out before he and his team-mates celebrated in front of an ecstatic away end.
A glorious end to the season!
There were times this season when our chances of finishing in the top four seemed fairly remote, but throughout the campaign we kept plugging away, kept believing and finally achieved the target with this superb performance against Norwich. Even just a couple of weeks ago, Arsenal held the advantage in the race for fourth but our victory in the north London derby and against Burnley – coupled with the Gunners’ defeat at Newcastle on Monday night – suddenly meant it was all in our hands. And we weren’t going to let this opportunity slip by.
Norwich fell through the Premier League trapdoor a few weeks ago but still wanted to put on a decent display in their last game in the division. But we never really allowed them to get a foothold in the game and were dominant in all areas of the pitch. We were on the front foot right from the start and almost went ahead on eight minutes only for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to lash his shot from 12 yards over the bar. Kane then found space on the edge of the area but his effort was deflected and rolled through to Tim Krul.
The opener duly arrived on 16 minutes after Hojbjerg clipped a ball over the Norwich defence and found Bentancur in acres of space, he controlled and moved into the area before squaring it for Kulusevski to poke home. We were always in command but were given a warning on 23 minutes after Eric Dier gave the ball away to Milot Rashica, who had space to run into but then dragged his shot a yard wide from the edge of the area. Perhaps it was a bit of a wake-up call as we finished the half in dominant fashion and added a second in the 32nd minute. Krul played the ball out to Mathias Normann but Bentancur read the pass and nipped in to steal the ball, clipping over the perfect cross for Kane to stoop and head into an empty net. Ben Davies then had a 25-yarder saved by Krul before Kane headed Ryan Sessgnon’s cross straight at the Norwich goalkeeper.
Both sides had chances in the early stages of the second period, Kane releasing Son whose shot was kept out by Krul before Rashica found a yard of space in our box and picked out Teemu Pukki, but he headed well wide. A superb point-blank save from Krul in the 60th minute prevented Son from adding our third and we really should have extended our lead moments later as Kulusevki latched onto Bentancur’s through ball, rounded Krul and had an empty net to roll the ball into. Perhaps he thought about squaring for Son to score his much-wanted goal, but whatever happened, the Swedish international stumbled and didn’t connect properly with the ball, allowing Max Aarons the chance to get back and clear off the line.
But Kulusevski – in for Lucas Moura in our only change from last weekend’s win over Burnley – more than made amends two minutes later, curling a stunning left-footed drive past Krul to make it 3-0 and extinguish any slight nerves that might have been remaining. Then came number four in the 70th minute as Son finally got his goal. He had been denied yet again by Krul when clean through, a fine save by the goalkeeper to be fair, but shortly after, Kane and Lucas combined and Son provided the clinical finish. If that was good, Son’s second was sensational, picking up the ball out on the left edge of the area, 20 yards from goal and he unleashed a curling drive that fizzed past Krul.
That was really the end of the drama, although after hearing that Salah had scored at Anfield to draw level with Son in the race for the Golden Boot, our travelling fans tried to push us on to create another one for the forward. It didn’t materialise but it didn’t matter as Son still jointly won the award and we’re back in the Champions League – job done!
Reaction on Spurs TV
'Very pleased for this big achievement'
Antonio Conte said after the game: “We have to be very pleased for this big achievement. Honestly, it was very difficult to imagine in November to get a place in the Champions League. To bring the team to fourth place, with great results, also, to score a lot of goals and today, another clean sheet - we finished the season with 16 clean sheets - it means the team became stable. I’ve said before, in the past, important teams, teams who want to win, teams who want to fight for something important, have to be stable, not up and down. This group of players improved a lot in this part. I’m very pleased."
Highlights on Spurs TV
Norwich City 0-5 Spurs
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul, Aarons, Hanley (c), Byram (Zimmermann 36), Giannoulis, Sorensen, Normann, Dowell (Springett 61), Lees-Melou (Rupp 71), Rashica, Pukki. Substitutes: Gunn, Placheta, Tzolis, Tomkinson, Gibbs, Rowe.
Spurs (3-4-3): Lloris (c), Sanchez, Dier, Davies, Royal (Bergwijn 73), Bentancur (Winks 73), Hojbjerg, Sessegnon, Kulusevski (Lucas 68), Kane, Son. Substitutes (not used): Gollini, Rodon, Craig, White, Devine, Scarlett.
Goals: Spurs – Kulusevski 16, 64, Kane 32, Son 70, 75.
Yellow cards: Norwich – Byram, Normann, Springett; Spurs - Son.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Venue: Carrow Road, Norwich.
Weather: Sunny intervals, gentle breeze, 21 degrees.