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Saturday 1 October 2016

Alli ready to go the extra mile

Dier reveals Spurs goal hero put in special effort at training

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli
Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli

Eric Dier has revealed how Dele Alli has been staying late at training for extra shooting practice after his team-mate scored in Tottenham's win over Manchester United on Sunday.

Alli's crisp finish in the second half opened the floodgates at White Hart Lane as Spurs hit three in six minutes to stun the Red Devils and keep their Barclays Premier League title hopes alive.

It was Alli's eighth goal of the season, nine including his debut strike for England last November, but the midfielder has been less prolific in recent weeks, having not scored since February before Sunday's opener.

Alli, however, who turned 20 on Monday, has been praised by Mauricio Pochettino for his dedication this season and showed maturity again on Saturday by taking extra practice in front of goal.

"It was important I put that one away today as I've missed a few chances in recent games and training as Eric will tell you," Alli told Spurs TV as he was standing next to Dier.

Dier then added: "To be fair he deserves it because yesterday he was out after training practising his finishing.

"I asked him why and he said it was because he'd missed quite a few so he deserves the goal for that. He did alright."

Surprise

Surprise leaders Leicester's seven-point cushion makes them strong favourites to win the title, but Spurs' panache and substance has kept them in with a shout.

"Absolutely," said Jan Vertonghen, when asked whether they had the spirit and ability to be champions.

"If you feel the spirit in this team, it is something special at the training ground, in between the players. It's everywhere.

"If you feel the buzz around the club, it's something I haven't experienced before in this way.

"I am extremely excited. It is something I have never experienced before and we have to keep this together.

"Not just the players, the squad as well, the crowd and then nice things can happen."

There still remains a chance of silverware this term, although the bookmakers' odds of 5/1 highlight the challenge Spurs face with five matches left.

The north London club could also soon face the challenge of swatting away interest from Europe's elite as Pochettino's standing in the game grows.

Sunday's win will have certainly caught Manchester United's eye and Vertonghen believes Pochettino is key to the bright future at White Hart Lane.

"For me it is vital," he said. "To keep this thing going, he has to stay.

"I think everyone wants him to stay and he feels that - that we want to fight for him and that this team is the best thing for him so I hope he stays."

The former Argentina defender has almost certainly led Tottenham back into the Champions League, while they are on course to finish above Arsenal for the first time in 21 years.

But it is the title they really want and that is not something they have given up on, despite Leicester's seven-point buffer.

"We have to believe," Vertonghen said. "I think we showed belief on the pitch and obviously Leicester, compliments to them, but we have to try and chase them.

"For us, personally, it is important to win these games, to show the rest of the Premier League that we don't give up.

"That we're there and we're ready for next season as well. We will try to compete on every level and I think this team is capable of doing that."

Vertonghen returned against United after 11 weeks out with a knee injury.

""I felt very good, very confident," he said. "It was a great team to play (with) making it easier for me to come back."

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