LONDON – Tottenham Hotspur will play Champions League football for a third consecutive year next season as Harry Kane’s winner earned a nervy 1-0 win over Newcastle at Wembley on Wednesday.
Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Huddersfield means Spurs opened up a four-point gap on their London rivals with just one game of the Premier League season remaining.
Victory also moved Mauricio Pochettino’s men above Liverpool into third.
Spurs had won just one of their previous five games as a late season slump threatened to cost them Champions League football at the club’s new 62 000 capacity stadium next season.
And in their penultimate match at temporary home Wembley, the hosts were grateful to some good fortune and wayward Newcastle finishing to seal their return to Europe’s premier club competition next season.
A Christian Eriksen free kick unconvincingly parried to safety by Martin Dubravka was Spurs’ only threat early on, as a Newcastle side that have now lost their past four games since mathematically securing survival posed the greater threat.
Jonjo Shelvey smashed a free kick from the edge of the box off the post, before Hugo Lloris produced a fine flying save to his right to parry a powerful header from Jamaal Lascelles.
Dwight Gayle headed over a decent opportunity with a free header from close-range, and then saw a tame effort comfortably handled by Lloris once more.
With tension among the home support rising, Spurs fans could barely believe their eyes when Kane completely failed to make contact as the ball fell invitingly for him, with just Dubravka to beat just before the break.
Kane hasn’t been at his best since returning from ankle ligament damage last month that kept him sidelined for three weeks.
However, England’s talisman still can’t be offered too many clear-cut chances, and he made amends to settle Spurs’ nerves five minutes into the second half.
Son Heung-min’s low cross teed up Kane to open his body and curl home his 39th goal of the season into the top corner.
Confidence restored, Spurs could have added to their lead as Dubravka did well to save from Jan Vertonghen’s volleyed effort.
However, there were still a few scares to survive for Spurs as Ayoze Perez fluffed his lines with a great chance to equalise, and Matt Richie saw claims for a penalty as he went down under a challenge from Lloris waved away.
Newcastle substitute Jacob Murphy then had the visitors’ best chance of the night, but blasted high and wide to a palpable sense of relief.
The Spurs fans rose to their feet to greet Toby Alderweireld’s return as a substitute. The Belgian has been sidelined by Pochettino in recent months, reportedly due to his refusal to sign a new contract with the club.
And seconds later there were more celebrations, as news of the fulltime score filtered through from Stamford Bridge that Chelsea’s Champions League chase had faltered.