Son Heung-Min helps Spurs keep up pressure in race for top four
LONDON -- Three points from Tottenham's 2-0 win against Huddersfield as Son Heung-Min struck twice to help them keep the pressure firmly on Liverpool.
1. Tottenham keep the pressure on
Tottenham heaped the pressure on their top-four rivals with a comfortable win that was never really in doubt. Son's brilliant double either side of half-time moved Spurs into third, one point behind Manchester United and one clear of Liverpool, who host Newcastle in the late kickoff.
Spurs came into the game with a remarkable record against newly-promoted clubs -- 31 wins and two draws from 33 matches since a 1-0 defeat at QPR in April 2012 -- but, even so, this game felt significant, given Chelsea's trip to Manchester City on Sunday.
If the Blues lose at the Etihad Stadium, Spurs will have a five-point lead over their London rivals with nine games remaining, which is particularly significant ahead of their meeting at Stamford Bridge -- Spurs' bogey stadium -- on April 1.
Their form is also piling pressure on Jose Mourinho's Manchester United, who lost at Spurs last month, as the race to be best of the rest hots up.
Given how badly Spurs struggled to break down lesser teams at Wembley earlier in the campaign, the ease of this victory was impressive.
It never seemed likely that Huddersfield would come back into the game after Son's cool 27th-minute opener and the only question was how soon Spurs could score another, so manager Mauricio Pochettino could begin resting players for Wednesday's Champions League round-of-16 second leg against Juventus.
As well as visiting Chelsea, Spurs host City in the run-in but they should have nothing to fear from that game given their form at Wembley, particularly if Pep Guardiola's side have already won the title by then.
Spurs have now picked up more points than any other team in 2018 and, as things stands, it would be foolish to bet on them being the team to drop out of the top four.
2. Son Heung-Min makes case for inclusion
For Son, a spot in the starting XI was not necessarily a positive. While the rest of the Spurs team picks itself for Wednesday's Champions League match against Juventus, the South Korean is vying for one spot with Erik Lamela, and his inclusion hinted that Pochettino would opt for Lamela against Juve -- just as he did in Turin.
From the start, Son played like a man determined to keep his place. He notched one of the assists of the season when he rolled Jonjoe Kenny and crossed for Kane against Everton and he nearly repeated the trick after 17 minutes, leaving Florent Hadergjonaj for dead with a delicious dummy and crossing for Kane, whose shot was saved by Jonas Lossl.
Son has often been the difference-maker against lesser teams at Wembley, scoring here against Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Brighton and Stoke since December, and it was no surprise when he gave Spurs a deserved lead. The hosts countered quickly and Alli's pass found his teammate in acres of space. Time is occasionally Son's enemy -- he often makes hard finishes look easy and easy finishes look hard -- but he easily rounded Lossl and fired home.
Son's second goal after half-time owed plenty to Kane, who whipped in a cross that David Beckham would have been proud of, which Son met on the bounce with a cushioned header into the corner. It was the perfect example of his knack of making difficult, snap finishes look so simple.
Before the match it was easy to imagine that Pochettino had already made up his mind to start Lamela against Juventus. Just as Sir. Alex Ferguson often played Park Ji-Sung in the biggest games for his workrate and intensity, so Pochettino likes to use the Argentine. But Son was replaced by Lamela after 70 minutes to a well-earned standing ovation, suggesting his matchwinning performance has made his manager think twice.
3. Upcoming run will be vital for Huddersfield
Huddersfield arrived at Wembley unbeaten in their last four visits to the national stadium and with fond memories of their victory over Reading in the Championship playoff final in May.
But, although it is a cliche, this was never the type of game that will determine the Terriers' fate, despite that record. Back-to-back wins over relegation rivals West Brom and Bournemouth had given David Wagner's team a cushion before the match and those are the victories they will need more of to survive.
Next up are matches against Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton and Watford -- all teams within four points of Wagner's -- and if they can pick up more points in them, this afternoon at Wembley will quickly be forgotten.
In the end, Huddersfield acquitted themselves fairly well, defending with impressive organisation and determination in the first half. The only time they were caught short at the back was for Son's opener, when Spurs counter-attacked rapidly, and there was little they could do about his second, given the quality of Kane's cross.
They did not offer much in attack, although Tom Ince extended Hugo Lloris into a save just before Son's second. There are less tough but more important matches to come.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.