Spurs boost Champions League bid, Arsenal end winless run


Spurs boost Champions League bid, Arsenal end winless run

Monday, February 17, 2020

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LONDON, England (AP) — Jose Mourinho couldn't resist a little swipe at Manchester City following their European ban.

Mourinho's current priority is securing Tottenham's own qualification for the Champions League but he also remembers missing out on the Premier League title to City while Manchester United manager.

Tottenham moved up to fifth place in the Premier League standings after Son Heung-min's stoppage-time strike secured a 3-2 victory at Aston Villa yesterday.

Fifth place is now likely to offer a Champions League spot following Manchester City's two-year European ban, although it is yet to officially be confirmed and City are appealing the UEFA punishment for breaching financial rules.

“I didn't lose one single minute analysing UEFA — they have to analyse,” Mourinho said. “If I go into that, I have to ask if the team which finished second in 2018 are going to be champions, yes or no?”

Mourinho finished runner-up with United two years ago, 19 points behind City.

“Joking apart, I just think about doing the best we can,” Mourinho said on his current mission. “At the end of the season we'll see where we are. If we are sixth or seventh then it doesn't matter if fifth goes to the Champions League.

“Wolves, Sheffield United, Manchester United, Arsenal, Everton, everyone looks to the table and says, 'We can do it.' It's going to be very hard. It's not about huge decisions or small decisions, it's about the rules, the law, 'it is or it isn't'. UEFA punished them but they have the chance to appeal.”

Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld, whose partner gave birth to a boy on Friday, poked Anwar El Ghazi's cross into his own net after nine minutes, but made it 1-1 when he lashed in from a corner in the 27th minute.

Son put Spurs ahead at the end of the first half when he converted the rebound after Pepe Reina had saved his penalty, awarded after Bjorn Engels had brought down Steven Bergwijn. But Engels got Villa back on level terms again eight minutes into the second half.

Reina made several good stops from Son and Dele Alli but was beaten in stoppage time when Engels continued his action-packed afternoon by missing a routine clearance to allow Son to race clear and score.

“I'm very pleased with the victory, but I'd be complaining if the result was 2-2 after we missed so many chances,” Mourinho said.

Defeat kept Villa 17th, a point above the relegation zone, and the team has now conceded a league-high 50 goals in the top flight.

Arsenal win again

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil, and Alexandre Lacazette scored in the second half to give Arsenal a 4-0 victory over Newcastle and end a run of four-straight draws in the Premier League.

The Gunners overcame a lifeless first half to record their first league win since New Year's Day, but they only rose to 10th place.

Pepe claimed two assists, while Ozil scored his first goal since last April and Lacazette ended a nine-game drought.

With Newcastle playing with a flat back five, the onus was on Arsenal to break them down. That only came after the break, with the hosts taking the lead in the 54th minute.

Pepe twisted and turned in the area and pulled back to Eddie Nketiah, but the young striker's 10-yard shot glanced off the top of the crossbar and went over. Shortly after, Aubameyang was in the perfect place to find the corner with a cushioned header from Pepe's pinpoint cross.

Pepe enjoyed a golden few minutes as three minutes later he got on the scoresheet to make it 2-0.

This was down to the skill and enterprise of Bukayo Saka, who nutmegged Valentino Lazaro and teed up Pepe to sweep into the bottom corner.

That seemed likely to be the end of the contest, but on another day Newcastle might have made a comeback.

Only a brilliant block by Arsenal defender David Luiz denied Ciaran Clark, while Allan Saint-Maximin, whose pace and energy was a threat throughout, struck a post with a curling shot.

The hosts extended their lead to 3-0 in the 90th minute when Ozil slotted in from Lacazette's assist.

The Frenchman also ended a long wait for a goal when he struck for the first time in more than two months as he scuffed home another Pepe cross at the death.

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