Tottenham Hotspur toasted their extraordinary feat of reaching the Champions League final for the first time by booking their place in next season’s competition, clinching fourth spot in the Premier League with a 2-2 draw at home to Everton on Sunday.
Spurs were practically guaranteed a top-four spot as they led Arsenal by three points and an eight-goal superior goal difference heading into the final game and a draw was enough to ensure they finished ahead of their north London rivals for the third year in a row.
But it meant they missed out on finishing in the top-three, with Chelsea taking third place instead following their goalless draw at Leicester City, which took them on to 72 points compared to Tottenham’s 71. Eric Dier smashed home from close range after poor defending from Everton from a corner to put Spurs ahead in the third minute in a celebratory atmosphere following their against-the-odds win over Ajax Amsterdam which sent them into the Champions League final with Liverpool on 1 June. But former Arsenal forward Theo Walcott equalised in the 69th minute with a classy curling finish into the bottom corner.
Everton’s traveling fans had been more preoccupied with events in the title race, hoping bitter rivals Liverpool would not win the league, and a cheer rang out from their end each time news filtered through of Manchester City goal against Brighton.
Everton went ahead three minutes later when Turkish forward Cenk Tosun bundled the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble.
Their lead did not last long, though, as Spurs’ Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen netted with a curling free kick in the 75th, and after the fulltime whistle Tottenham’s squad and their families went on a lap of honour of their new stadium. Tottenham have now qualified for the Champions League for a fourth consecutive season under Mauricio Pochettino, who has made playing in Europe’s top competition something routine for the club since he took over in 2014, securing his first top-four finish in his second campaign.
“Unbelievable, I want to congratulate my players, they are superheroes,” Pochettino told reporters.
“When we started the season no-one believed, the objective was never to finish in the top four and it never was to play the final - but the ambition we showed during the whole season brought the club to a final and the top four.
“People need to realise what this group of payers is achieving. We have three weeks to prepare for the final, it’s going to be the most important game of our history and we need to be ready.”