x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Win for Tottenham over Stoke ensures race for Champions League place goes down to the wire

Andres Villas-Boas, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, hailed a late winner from Emmanuel Adebayor against Stoke.

Emmanuel Adebayor, left, scored for the second consecutive game with the match-winning goal against Stoke City. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
Emmanuel Adebayor, left, scored for the second consecutive game with the match-winning goal against Stoke City. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

STOKE-On-TRENT // Andres Villas-Boas, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, hailed a late winner from Emmanuel Adebayor at the Britannia Stadium, which ensured his side's chase for a Uefa Champions League place will go down to the final day of the season.

Adebayor poked home a Clint Dempsey cross in the 83rd minute yesterday to earn his side a 2-1 win after Dempsey had cancelled out a third-minute opener by Steven Nzonzi for Stoke City.

Spurs had struggled to fashion a breakthrough despite dominating after Charlie Adam's 47th minute sending off, but Adebayor's strike lifted them back above North London rivals Arsenal, who play Wigan Athletic on Tuesday.

Villas-Boas said: "It keeps us in the frame and gives us the possibility of making the Champions League, so the important thing is the dream is still alive for us.

"We wanted to take it to the last day when we are playing at home, so it was an extremely important win for us for those reasons, and hopefully someone else will slip up. Arsenal are strong and experienced, but it will go down to the wire."

Villas-Boas singled out Dempsey for special praise after the American scored a superb 20th-minute equaliser to cancel out Nzonzi's early strike, then played a crucial role in Adebayor's winner.

Villas Boas said: "He [Dempsey] has been absolutely immense this season with his assisting and his goal scoring and he has sometimes not got the credit he deserves.

"He is a hard worker and a very complete athlete and he had an amazing game. It was an extremely good individual performance.

"We came back from difficult circumstances, because part of Stoke's strength is their delivery at set-plays and the delivery [for the goal] was absolutely amazing.

"But we managed to control the other ones and the circumstances turned for us. I am extremely happy for the team in the way we were patient in the game, we kept the ball moving and eventually we got the breakthrough."

Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, blamed Adam's dismissal for his side's failure to mark their 150th anniversary celebrations with a home win.

Pulis challenged both bookings, which led to Adam ejection and claimed his departure had ruined the game as a spectacle.

He said: "I don't think Charlie has touched [Jan] Vertonghen on the first one and on the second one he's made a mistake by sliding in, but again I don't think he touches him. It's disappointing, because I watch football day in, day out and you see some challenges that don't even get bookings, then you see two challenges like that one today getting a sending off.

"What disappoints me is there was a full house here for a great day to watch a really good game of football and it has just been taken away from them. The game was then not a game.

"Good teams will frustrate the life out of you and what you mustn't do is get dragged into it and lose your shape and your discipline."

Despite the defeat, Stoke's survival in the top flight is secure for another season, and Pulis added: "I'm delighted for us to be in the Premier League for a sixth consecutive season.

"It's not just what the club have done on the pitch, it's what the club has achieved behind the scenes as well."

* Press Association

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