Mauricio Pochettino hailed super-charged forward Son Heung-min after he fired Tottenham into second place in the Premier League on Saturday as Gonzalo Higuain scored his first goals for Chelsea.
Spurs looked to be heading for their first league draw of the season at Wembley but Son’s 83rd-minute strike earned Pochettino’s men a hard-fought 1-0 win over Newcastle and enabled them to leapfrog Manchester City, who play on Sunday.
Chelsea thumped bottom side Huddersfield 5-0 thanks to two goals apiece from Higuain and Eden Hazard and a late header from David Luiz as they put their recent goalscoring problems firmly behind them.
Elsewhere, struggling Cardiff paid heartfelt tributes to Emiliano Sala, whose plane disappeared while he was flying from France on January 21 after signing for the club from Nantes, before beating Bournemouth 2-0.
Tottenham are now just four points behind leaders Liverpool, who are in action at West Ham on Monday, but just as significantly they consolidated their position in the top four after their 19th win in 25 matches.
Spurs enjoyed more than 70 percent possession but faced a dogged Newcastle, buoyed by a stunning 2-1 win over Manchester City in midweek.
Just when it seemed they would run out of time, Son stepped up, as he did with an equaliser against Watford in midweek, to compensate for the injured Harry Kane’s absence with his 14th goal of the season.
The South Korean had a helping hand from Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who let the powerful shot slip beneath his grasp to undo all his side’s good work.
“It is a massive result to be in a very good position in the table,” said Pochettino. “We don’t need to be in some position like today to convince ourselves about our capacity or potential. We believe in ourselves.”
And the Argentine lauded Son’s stamina since he returned from the Asian Cup.
“Sonny is like a battery that you have that you work, work, work, work but when the battery is gone, it’s gone,” he said.
– Higuain double –
Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted before the match against bottom side Huddersfield that he had found it hard to get any rest since Wednesday’s humiliating 4-0 drubbing at Bournemouth.
His side, seeking to avoid a third straight Premier League defeat, went ahead in the 16th minute through Higuain and doubled their lead with a Hazard penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Both players scored again midway through the second half and Luiz made it 5-0 as Chelsea returned to the top four at the expense of Arsenal.
Higuain, 31, was signed on loan until the end of the season from Juventus to help the 2016/17 English champions rediscover their sharpness in front of goal.
“When Higuain arrived he wasn’t at the top of his physical condition. Now he is improving. Apart from the goals, my feeling is he is really very suitable to play close to Hazard,” said Sarri.
“For us it is very useful. For Higuain, he will be able to score a lot of goals, but also it will be good for Eden.”
Cardiff, who beat Bournemouth 2-0 thanks to two goals from Bobby Reid, were playing at home for the first time since the disappearance of Sala’s plane over the Channel.
The home players warmed up in T-shirts with Sala’s image on them and the stadium fell silent before kick-off to remember Sala and pilot David Ibbotson.
“The crowd were amazing and it’s been a very emotional 10 days,” Cardiff boss Warnock told BT Sport.
“Emiliano Sala would’ve been really proud of us tonight,” he added.
Wolves consolidated their hold on seventh place by beating Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park, in a match interrupted when a black cat began scampering around the pitch.
“Where I come from in Portugal the black cat is bad luck so I never want to see cats again,” said Wolves’ Portuguese boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
Struggling Fulham were unable to recapture the spirit of their dramatic midweek comeback against Brighton, losing 2-0 to Crystal Palace.
Southampton conceded a penalty deep into added time to draw 1-1 at Burnley while the game between Brighton and Watford finished goalless.
Defending champions Manchester City, five points adrift of leaders Liverpool, host Arsenal on Sunday, with Manchester United travelling to former champions Leicester.