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Antonio Conte revealed he told Son Heung-min he would be coming off moments before scoring a brilliant goal in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Leicester.
Son grabbed his second of the game and 19th of the season in style as he curled a 20-yard effort into the top corner to put the seal on Spurs’ victory.
He had earlier set up Harry Kane’s opener from a corner and doubled the lead when he turned and shot on the hour mark.
The quality of the goal left Conte wondering which was Son’s strongest foot, but the Italian said moments like that will only count for something if Spurs achieve their goal of finishing in the top six.
“I gave him a big hug because after an amazing goal my question was which is his favourite foot, right or left?” Conte said.
“He scored a fantastic goal and three minutes before when I spoke with him I said, ‘Go for five or six minutes and then I have to make a change’.
“I said to him that when you listened that I wanted to make a change and you decide to score this amazing goal.
“We are talking about a great player, fantastic player. But it’s important at the end of the season to celebrate a big achievement with the team. Otherwise it remains only a personal success only to score these types of goals.”
The victory saw Spurs get back on track in their quest for Champions League qualification after taking one point in their previous two games.
Conte knew it was especially important to win as they visit title-chasing Liverpool next weekend.
“It was a good performance against a really good team,” he said. “The game wasn’t easy and we knew very well that despite them making eight changes from the last game against Roma you can see the quality, you can see the squad that Leicester has.
Big win that! Good to build some momentum for the huge games coming next. 💪 pic.twitter.com/tl6vvqfy7u
— Harry Kane (@HKane) May 1, 2022
“I think then we deserved to win the game.
“For sure we got three points in an important moment of the season, especially because in the next games we are going to face first Liverpool and then Arsenal.
“Today it was vital to get three points. There is only one result and a lot of pressure, but I said to my players to live this moment, to enjoy this moment because we deserved it after really great work that we did in these six months.
“I think no one at the start of the season could imagine Tottenham challenging for a place in the Champions League, especially in November when there was a change, and for this reason we have to be satisfied that we stay in this position to fight for a big achievement.”
Things might have been different for Leicester had Hugo Lloris not tipped Patson Daka’s shot onto a post, but in the end they only had Kelechi Iheanacho’s stoppage-time strike to show for their efforts.
Boss Brendan Rodgers showed where his priorities lie having made so many changes to his side with next week’s return trip to Roma in the Europa Conference League in mind.
But Rodgers is optimistic his side have what it takes to be challenging for the top four again next season.
“I am really happy I can get the squad back, with different circumstances we could have been really strong today and really strong on Thursday,” he said.
“The nature of our season has been riddled with injuries, the players coming back I just cannot afford to risk them playing three games in a week.
“Our schedule has been so heavy. We’ve got a game on Thursday that could go into extra time as well. I have been aware of that, it is nice to be able to do that and still be competitive.
“Going forward next year if we can keep the squad as fit as we can and add a player or two then we might be up there challenging again next season.”