English Premiership

Pochettino refuses to give up title pursuit

Mauricio Pochettino (Supplied)
Mauricio Pochettino (Supplied)

Birmingham - Mauricio Pochettino is refusing to give up on Tottenham's hopes of clinching the Premier League title after a 2-0 win at seemingly doomed Aston Villa cut the gap on Leicester to just two points.

Spurs have played a game more than the shock leaders who welcome Rafael Benitez's Newcastle side on Monday.

But after seeing Harry Kane score either side of half-time thanks to Dele Alli's creativity, the Tottenham manager promised Leicester a fight to the finish.

"It was very important to get the three points for us to keep the pressure on Leicester," admitted Pochettino.

"We are in a good position with eight games to play. That is 24 points, a lot of points, so anything can still happen in the race.

"We showed good character and the team played very well, so it was good to recover this feeling after a few games that were difficult.

"When you play against a team fighting for survival, it can be very difficult. But we showed the right energy, and the right mentality too."

Pochettino hailed the contributions of Kane and Alli after the two England players linked up so effectively to bring about Villa's downfall.

"Harry had a lot of chances today, but he kept working hard for the team and showed why he is such a fantastic player," said the Spurs boss.

"Dele is a clever player and he has the awareness and quick thinking to make a big difference in games. His part in the first goal was the key moment in the game because we had created so many opportunities in the first half."

Spurs must now try to overturn a three-goal deficit against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday in the Europa League last 16.

But their manager stressed: "This victory helps us to prepare for the next game on Thursday against Borussia Dortmund. We are down in the tie, but anything can happen in football, so we will try to turn it around."

For Villa manager Remi Garde, it was a familiar tale of gloom and despondency as another defeat leaves them needing a miracle to survive now.

"Like every defeat, I think we conceded two goals in the worst period that you could imagine before the game," said the Frenchman whose team are nine points short of safety.

"The first one was a lack of concentration, a lack of experience and we know that when we concede a goal currently, we become a little fragile.

"But I have to say the reaction of the players and the attitude was right. The evidence is that we could have drawn right at the end with the chances we missed."

He added: "This is not a dream, for sure, but it's not a nightmare so far. In all difficulties, we are still alive and we still believe we can win enough games to be safe.

"It gets harder to do with each defeat and we have to improve in a lot of areas if we are to survive, but we will keep on fighting until it's mathematically impossible."