Harry Kane scored twice in a comfortable victory over Nottingham Forest as Tottenham consolidated their place in the Premier League’s top four and relieved some immediate pressure on manager Antonio Conte.
Liverpool’s surprise defeat at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday means Spurs are six points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s side in fourth and seven points above Newcastle, who have played three games fewer.
Kane broke the deadlock with a trademark header from Pedro Porro’s delivery before netting his 20th league goal of the season from the penalty spot following Joe Worrall’s foul on Richarlison.
The Brazil international —restored to the starting line-up after appearing to criticise Conte following Wednesday’s goalless draw with AC Milan—thought he had given Spurs the lead after just three minutes, but the video assistant referee disallowed the goal for offside.
Son Heung-min increased Spurs’ advantage in the second half when he steered Richarlison’s cross into the bottom corner before Worrall pulled a goal back for Forest with a powerful header.
The visitors were denied a second consolation by Fraser Forster, who saved Andre Ayew’s late penalty after Dejan Kulusevski’s handball.
Forest stays 14th but their cushion over the bottom three has been cut to three points.
Dominant Spurs back to winning ways
Speculation over Conte’s future intensified following Wednesday’s Champions League exit – which came after back-to-back 1-0 defeats by Wolves and Sheffield United in the Premier League and FA Cup respectively.
The Italian made three changes to the team that drew with the Serie A side —the most notable being a recall for Richarlison, who was called “selfish” by Conte following an interview with Brazilian TV in the aftermath of that stalemate.
The former Everton frontman was denied his first league goal for Spurs by the video assistant referee, who ruled that he had strayed marginally offside from Oliver Skipp’s pass.
The home supporters did not have to wait long for a breakthrough, though, as Kane ended his – and his club’s – run of three games without a goal with a clinical first-half double.
Kane became only the third player in Premier League history – after Sergio Aguero and Alan Shearer – to net 20 top-flight goals in six separate seasons.
The visitors improved after the restart, but Son’s composed finish following more fine work from Richarlison left them with too big a mountain to climb.
Victory at Southampton next Saturday would lift Conte’s team nine points clear of Liverpool, whose next Premier League game is at Manchester City in three weeks’ time, after the international break.
More away day blues for Forest
This was the latest in a string of poor displays away from the City Ground for Steve Cooper’s side.
Forest have won just once away from home all season and remain the lowest scorers on the road so far this term, having registered only three goals on their travels.
They have also failed to score a first-half goal in 18 of their 26 games – only Everton have a worse record in the opening 45 minutes of games.
Cooper’s team improved marginally in the second half. Brennan Johnson stung Forster’s palms with a low drive before Serge Aurier’s header was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by the Tottenham goalkeeper.
Worrall did get on the scoreboard when he headed into an empty net after Forster had missed his punch at a corner, but Ayew’s late penalty miss ended Forest’s hopes of an unlikely comeback.