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23 February 2024

Tottenham secure runners-up spot on historic day

Pic: Reuters

By Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur signed off 118 years at their soon-to-be-demolished White Hart Lane stadium with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday that ensured they will finish as Premier League runners-up.

A carnival atmosphere preceded kickoff and the stadium erupted after six minutes when Victor Wanyama headed them in front against a weakened United side.

David de Gea kept United in the game with several fine stops while Harry Kane struck the crossbar shortly before halftime as the hosts threatened to overwhelm their opponents.

Home hero Kane scored his 22nd league goal of the season to make it 2-0 shortly after the interval but United skipper Wayne Rooney halved the deficit with just under 20 minutes remaining.

As rain began to fall on Tottenham's parade their were some nervy moments but they hung on to claim a club record equalling 14th successive home win and remain unbeaten at their north London fortress all season.

United's second successive defeat in London, after last weekend's 2-0 loss to Arsenal ended a 25-match unbeaten league run, means that Jose Mourinho's side can no longer finish in the top four although they could yet qualify for the Champions League by beating Ajax in the Europa League final.

It was Tottenham's day though and as the final whistle sounded to confirm their highest top flight finish for 54 years, thousands of fans invaded the pitch to celebrate, delaying a post-match ceremony featuring numerous club legends.

The stadium, home since 1899 and already being swallowed up by the new 61,00-seater ground rising around it, will be demolished with the club playing at Wembley next season before returning in the 2018-19 campaign.

While it was a day for nostalgia, it was also a day to celebrate the vibrant side assembled by Mauricio Pochettino -- even if the title proved just beyond them.

With two games remaining they could still end up with 86 points, five more than Leicester City managed when winning the Premier League last season.

"What a way to finish," Kane said. "We wanted a win so badly in our last game here. I said before I'd love to score the winning goal and for it to happen is brilliant."

If there was any hangover from last week's loss at West Ham that effectively ended their title hopes, it vanished after six minutes when Wanyama powered home a Ben Davies cross.

Anthony Martial almost levelled with a curled effort but Tottenham dominated and de Gea made great saves to deny Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli.

Kane's header from Eriksen's cross rattled the bar before the break and the pattern continued after the interval.

As so often this season it was Eriksen's killer delivery that led to Tottenham's second goal -- his wickedly curling free kick into the danger area touched home brilliantly by Kane with an outstretched leg.

When Rooney beat Hugo Lloris from close range after some fine play by Martial it seemed United might gatecrash the party but Tottenham would not be denied and Alli almost made it 3-1 when his shot was headed off the line by Danny Blind.