Spurs thrash Norwich to reach Champions League

Son Heung-min celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s fifth goal. (AP pic)


NORWICH: Antonio Conte revelled in a “perfect day” after Tottenham Hotspur’s 5-0 rout of already-relegated Norwich on Sunday’s final day of the Premier League season saw his side qualify for next term’s Champions League.

Spurs kicked off two points in front of Arsenal, knowing their north London rivals had to beat Everton at the Emirates and hope Conte’s men slipped up if they were to deny them a fourth-place finish.

But with Dejan Kulusevski and Son Heung-min, the joint-winner of the Premier League’s golden boot, both scoring twice and England captain Harry Kane also on target for Spurs, the result at Carrow Road was rarely in doubt.

Only a few weeks ago, Conte had insisted it would take a “miracle” for Tottenham to finish in the top four, but the Italian manager has masterminded a superb run that ends the club’s two-year absence from the Champions League.

“It was a perfect day for us,” Conte told the BBC. “We got a place in the Champions League. I think for a club like Tottenham to play Champions League is a great opportunity.

“It was not easy because in England the league is very difficult. There are many top teams. To get a place in the Champions League means we did something excellent.”

Conte was adamant his belief in Spurs’ ability had never faltered, saying: “Nine games ago … I was very clear with my players and the media. I said now I feel we are ready and can fight until the end. It was the perfect moment.”

Asked if guiding Spurs into a place among European club football’s elite ranked as one his biggest achievements, the experienced Conte — previously in charge of Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, as well as the Italian national side — replied: “I think so.”

The 52-year-old Conte, who replaced the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo in November, added: “Honestly it’s never positive to come into a team during the season.

“For me it was a big challenge, maybe the biggest challenge in my career. I’m really satisfied. I want to thank my staff and my players.

“If we were able to reach this big achievement, it’s because everyone gave everything.”