Son Heung-min struck deep into stoppage time as Tottenham’s chances of Champions League football next season were boosted by a 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Sunday.
A third consecutive Premier League victory lifts Spurs up to fifth — which could be enough to secure Champions League qualification with Manchester City facing a two-season ban from the competition — and within one point of fourth-placed Chelsea.
Jose Mourinho’s men were worthy of their victory after bouncing back from a nightmare start when Toby Alderweireld sliced into his own goal.
The Belgian quickly made amends at the other end with a thumping finish before Son followed up after Pepe Reina had saved his penalty to put the visitors in front.
Slack defending threatened to cost Tottenham all three points when they allowed Bjorn Engels to equalise early in the second half.
However, Engels was the culprit to cost Villa a point in their battle to beat the drop as he wrongly controlled a long ball forward in the 94th minute and Son sprinted clear to finish calmly.
Alderweireld had not travelled with his teammates to Birmingham after attending the birth of his child on Saturday and admitted to feeling heavy-legged after he turned Anwar El Ghazi’s deflected cross into his own net after just nine minutes.
Tottenham were all over the place defensively and only a goal-line block from Ben Davies denied Douglas Luiz from doubling Villa’s lead from Jack Grealish’s pass moments later.
However, Villa find themselves in a relegation battle due to their own defensive deficiencies.
No team in the Premier League have now conceded more than Dean Smith’s men.
Alderweireld made amends for his earlier error by smashing a loose ball from a corner high past the helpless Reina.
A rash challenge by Engels on Steven Bergwijn handed the visitors the chance to go in front just before the break, albeit it took a VAR review to award a penalty.
Son’s spot-kick was saved by Reina, but the South Korean followed up to prod home and become the first Asian player to score 50 Premier League goals.
But Spurs allowed Villa back into the game early in the second half.
El Ghazi fired the warning shot that Hugo Lloris did well to save.
Yet, Mourinho will have been furious at how easy his side made it for Engels to head home a Grealish corner on 53 minutes.
Tottenham took the game to the hosts in the final quarter, but struggled to find a way past the inspired Reina.
Son placed a shot too close to the Spanish goalkeeper from the edge of the box; Villa defenders scrambled to block Bergwijn’s effort behind before Reina again stood tall to block from Alli.
The on-loan AC Milan stopper was needed to perform more heroics in the closing stages as he twice denied Son.
However, the South Korean had the final say by composing himself to slot just beyond Reina’s reach with virtually the last action of the game and send Spurs closer to a fifth straight season of Champions League football.