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Stoke City 3 Tottenham 0: Adam, N´Zonzi and Diouf end visitors´ top-four dream

Stoke City ended Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four finish as they equalled their best points total in the Premier League with a 3-0 victory on Saturday.

Last season’s haul of 50 points was matched as goals from Charlie Adam, Steven N’Zonzi and Mame Biram Diouf capped an impressive display from Mark Hughes’ side.

Adam broke the deadlock after 21 minutes with a close-range header after poor defensive work from Jan Vertonghen, and N’Zonzi doubled the lead after another Tottenham mix-up involving Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier.

Spurs’ hopes of a comeback were hit after 50 minutes as Vlad Chiriches became the seventh player to be shown red in as many meetings between the two sides at the Britannia Stadium.

With a man short, Tottenham had no answer to Stoke’s dynamic performance, Diouf extending their advantage with four minutes to play.

Defeat mathematically ends any hopes Tottenham had of finishing in the UEFA Champions League places, meaning Mauricio Pochettino may have to settle for a Europa League spot.

Tottenham were immediately on the back foot as Stoke made a bright start, Marc Muniesa – making his first start since February in place of the suspended Marc Wilson – going agonisingly close in the third minute with a crisp volley over the crossbar.

Lloris was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers, but after saving from Marko Arnautovic, the Frenchman was beaten by Adam’s fourth goal in six games.

Diouf made good ground down the right, where his cross was flicked on at the front post by Tottenham defender Vertonghen and Adam beat his marker to head past Lloris.

Jack Butland then had to be alert to preserve that lead as Muniesa diverted Erik Lamela’s free-kick towards his own goal, forcing the Stoke keeper to touch the ball onto the bar.

The work Pochettino’s side had done to try and get back into the game was wiped out just after the half hour, though, as Tottenham’s generosity continued.

Adam delivered a hanging cross from the right that Dier and Lloris failed to deal with, their collision gifting the loose ball to N’Zonzi, who made no mistake with a composed finish.

Christian Eriksen brought a good save out of Butland early in the second half, but Tottenham’s task was made tougher five minutes after the restart as a clumsy challenge from Chiriches on Diouf saw the defender shown a second yellow card.

With the man advantage Stoke turned the screw with some incisive breakaways, and Adam was denied a second just before the hour as Lloris got down well to turn his curling effort wide.

Even top scorer Harry Kane could not spark Tottenham out of their lacklustre display as he wasted his only chance, and their disappointing afternoon was compounded by Diouf’s tap in from Arnautovic’s low cross in the closing minutes.

Sat 9 May, 2015
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