A brace from Harry Kane helped Tottenham put a miserable week behind them with an entertaining 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest.
Son Heung-min was also on target for Spurs before Joe Worrall grabbed a late consolation for the visitors and, while Fraser Forster saved a penalty from Andre Ayew in stoppage time, it was a comfortable and much-needed victory for Antonio Conte’s side.
FA Cup and Champions League exits this month have extended the club’s barren run without silverware but this win moved Tottenham six points clear of Liverpool in the Premier League top-four battle and eased the pressure on the non-committal Conte following a costly recent winless run.
Spurs had failed to score in any of their last three matches and Richarlison, despite his explosive post-match interview after Wednesday’s Champions League exit, started with Dejan Kulusevski dropped to the bench.
All eyes were on the £60million forward from the off with the former Everton man still waiting to open his league account for Tottenham.
Richarlison thought that had changed with three minutes played when he fired home after Oliver Skipp’s perfectly-weighted through ball but a lengthy VAR check deemed the striker offside in yet another controversial margin call.
It was reminiscent of what happened to Richarlison against Fulham here in September but the mood in N17 has vastly changed since that early-season optimism.
Disappointment in two cup competitions this month had increased the apathy amongst the fanbase, especially with Conte’s reign seemingly drawing to a close and yet a familiar source provided a timely boost.
Richarlison and then Ben Davies kept the ball alive in the area and January recruit Pedro Porro clipped a wonderful cross into the area that Kane guided beyond Keylor Navas with his head for a 19th-minute opener.
A second for Spurs and Kane arrived with 35 minutes on the clock, with Richarlison again involved.
Porro chipped into Kane, who played into the path of Richarlison in the area and the forward was brought down by Forest captain Worrall.
Referee Craig Pawson instantly pointed to the spot and Kane fired into the roof of the net from 12-yards to score his first penalty since December’s World Cup miss against France in Qatar.
Forest boss Steve Cooper did his best to stem the tide with forwards Emmanuel Dennis and Ayew introduced at the break.
It did little to stop Tottenham’s resurgence with Richarlison and Son having shots blocked before they combined for the third.
Richarlison saw one cross cleared but picked out Son at the second time of asking and the South Korean controlled before he slotted into the corner for his 10th goal of a frustrating season.
Cooper’s woes continued when substitute Chris Wood was forced off with an injury but Navas denied Ben Davies and Son to keep the score respectable before the goal-shy visitors grabbed a consolation.
Worrall headed home at the back post after Felipe’s flick-on from a corner and further drama followed when substitute Kulusevski was penalised for handball inside the area.
Forster managed to save Ayew’s spot-kick and, with Liverpool losing away to Bournemouth earlier in the day, Spurs again have control of the fourth-place scrap.