Antonio Conte hailed Harry Kane’s character after the England captain recovered from his World Cup heartache to help Tottenham rescue a 2-2 draw at Brentford, while Newcastle climbed to second place with a 3-0 win at Leicester on Monday.
In the first Premier League fixture since the World Cup break in mid-November, Tottenham were in danger of a damaging defeat after Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney put Brentford in command at the Community Stadium.
Janelt fired home after 15 minutes with a close-range finish after Tottenham keeper Fraser Forster spilled Mathias Jensen’s shot.
Toney struck from close-range in the 54th minute from Christian Norgaard’s flick on.
But Kane netted with a 65th minute header to start the Tottenham recovery in his first game since missing a crucial penalty in England’s World Cup quarter-final defeat against France.
Brentford have not beaten Tottenham since 1948 and their long wait for a victory over the north Londoners goes on after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg curled home with 19 minutes left.
Tottenham boss Conte praised England captain Kane for his contribution following his World Cup disappointment.
“When he came back he was good. We know the importance of Harry for us, his personality, his character. He’s the best player we have. I’m happy that he scored today,” Conte said.
“Since last season we have made a good step. Now we have to continue to push ourselves. It is not easy. We have shown big character,” Conte said.
Tottenham stay fourth in the table, four points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
Newcastle are three points ahead of Tottenham as their unexpected push for a top four finish gathers pace.
The Magpies, revitalised by boss Eddie Howe since their Saudi-backed takeover, were ahead with less than three minutes on the clock when Chris Wood converted a penalty awarded for Daniel Amartey’s foul on Joelinton.
Newcastle doubled their lead in sublime fashion in the sixth minute as Miguel Almiron played a one-two with Bruno Guimaraes and slotted past Danny Ward for his eighth goal in his last eight league games.
Joelinton headed home from a corner in the 32nd minute as Newcastle made it six successive league victories — their best run in the competition since 2012.
Newcastle are now just four points behind leaders Arsenal, who host London rivals West Ham later on Monday.
Everton suffered a damaging 2-1 defeat against relegation rivals Wolves as Rayan Ait-Nouri struck in final seconds for the visitors at Goodison Park.
Yerry Mina gave Everton a seventh minute lead when the Colombia defender headed home from Dwight McNeil’s corner.
Wolves levelled midway through the first half as Joao Moutinho’s cross was volleyed in by Daniel Podence.
Ait-Nouri poked home from close range after Everton failed to deal with a counter-attack in the fifth minute of stoppage-time.
Third bottom Wolves now sit only one point behind fourth bottom Everton, whose manager Frank Lampard is under increasing pressure.
Southampton slipped to the bottom of the table after a 3-1 home defeat against south-coast rivals Brighton.
Adam Lallana headed Brighton in front against his former club in the 14th minute and Romain Perraud’s own goal increased the lead 10 minutes before half-time.
Brighton struck again early in the second half through Solly March’s long-range blast.
James Ward-Prowse reduced the deficit on the rebound after his penalty was saved by Robert Sanchez, but it wasn’t enough to avoid defeat in boss Nathan Jones’ first home league game in charge.
Fulham won 3-0 at nine-man Crystal Palace, who had Tyrick Mitchell and James Tomkins sent off.
Bobby De Cordova-Reid, Tim Ream and Aleksandar Mitrovic scored Fulham’s goals.
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