Leicester 1-6 Spurs: Kane, Son increase record points total

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  • PL goals no. 23, 24, 25 and 26 for Kane
  • Son’s 20th and 21st goals (all competitions)
  • Spurs locked into 2nd, obliterate record points total

The key to life is remembering to enjoy the good times, because the possibility always exists that this is as good as it’ll ever be.

Tottenham Hotspur fans, no one knows this better than you, but a quick reminder never hurt anyone. Look no further than the last 18 months of emotions experienced by Leicester City supporters for an example of how quickly those good times can vanish.

[ WATCH: Kane scores 4 to take charge in Golden Boot race ]

Thursday’s clash between the two sides at the King Power Stadium, where just 12 months ago Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy, so perfectly contrasted clubs with fortunes currently headed in polar opposite directions. Tottenham, spearheaded by Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, had to do little more than turn up for kickoff before returning south to London with a 6-1 victory.

Son’s showing started off poorly, as the South Korean international raced in on goal in the 15th minute, one on one with Kasper Schmeichel, before blazing his right-footed shot well over the bar without a single defender applying pressure. It was an inexcusable effort to not test the goalkeeper.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

10 minutes later, streaking through the penalty area in a similar situation, Son opted to cut the ball back into traffic for Kane, who was flanked by defenders on either side. It made no different, though, as the 23-year-old put his trailing right foot through the ball and redirected just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead (his 23rd PL goal this season).

11 minutes after that, Son made the most of a scoring chance of far greater difficulty. Dele Alli chipped the ball over a pair of defenders and found Son not far from the penalty spot. With a defender bearing down on him, Son wasted no time and fired first-time. Schmeichel couldn’t get down and to his right quick enough.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Spurs’ only blemish on the night came in the 59th minute, when Hugo Lloris charged out of his penalty area and failed to clear the ball out of play. After a frantic scramble of failed shots and passed, Ben Chilwell ended up with the ball atop the 18-yard box and fired low and through traffic to halve the Foxes’ deficit.

The 2-1 scoreline lasted all of four minutes, as Kane moved level with Lukaku on 24 goals. Toby Aldeweireld floated a cross to the back post, where Victor Wanyama headed the ball back across the face of goal and Kane found himself largely unmarked two yards off the goal line. England’s leading man applied the finish with his head, and the score was 3-1.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Son scored Spurs’ style points on his second of the game, his side’s fourth, in the 71st minute. Moussa Sissoko picked out Kane in the center of the field, and Kane played the ball forward to Son. The 24-year-old created a half-yard of space by cutting inside and onto his favored right foot, and hit an inch-perfect strike into the bottom right corner for 4-1.

Son exited the game without completing the hat trick in the 78th minute, while Kane remained on the field long enough to bag his 25th and 26th PL goals of the season, in the 89th and 93rd minutes. Having played seven fewer PL games this season due to injuries, Kane now leads Lukaku by two.

Mauricio Pochettino‘s side’s record points total rises to 83 (the previous high was 72, in 2012-13) — two more than Leicester won the title with last season — already assured of a second-place finish. Meanwhile, Craig Shakespeare‘s side remain 11th in the league table. A win on the final day of the season, Sunday, could see them rise as high as 8th or fall as low as 15th.

Luiz back in Chelsea squad after being dropped by Conte

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David Luiz‘s pair of stints at Chelsea have been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride of emotions — joyous highs and painful lows.

[ MORE: Pogba, Zlatan back form injuries; available this weekend ]

After returning to the club for a second time in the summer of 2016, Luiz instantly slotted into Antonio Conte‘s three-man backline and was a pivotal part of the Blues’ title-winning team last season.

Much like the second half of his first four seasons at Chelsea, Luiz’s second season (the second time around) has started so hotly. After playing eight of the first 10 games during Chelsea’s ongoing title defense, Luiz was unexpectedly dropped from the squad for the victory over Manchester United.

Now, two weeks later, Conte has announced that Luiz has rejoined the squad and is available for selection when his side visits West Brom on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) — quotes from the Guardian:

“David Luiz is in the squad, yes. [His exclusion] was a technical decision. When it’s a technical decision every player has to react well and accept my decision. It’s normal, this.

“I like to speak about the team and the next game that we have to pay attention to. This is the most important thing, not speaking about a single player. I repeat: I don’t like to speak about a single player.”

Pogba, Zlatan, Rojo return from injuries for Man Utd-Newcastle

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The only saving grace when it comes to injuries is that, eventually (usually), players recover from them and return to the team.

[ MORE: 2018 World Cup Power Rankings — who comes out on top? ]

It’s been a long seven months for the soccer world to be without Zlatan Ibrahimovic (torn ACL on April 20), just as it’s been a painfully long 10 weeks for Manchester United fans following Paul Pogba‘s hamstring injury on Sept. 12. Man United have dropped eight points during the latter’s absence and now coincidentally sit eight points behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

A bit of good news on this Friday: United manager Jose Mourinho announced today that the dynamic duo, along with defender Marcos Rojo (knee ligament damage on April 20) have returned to full fitness and will be available for selection during Saturday’s home clash with Newcastle United (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com) — quotes from ManUtd.com:

“The players that stayed here and [were] recovering from injuries, even the ones that are recovering from big injuries, they are ready to play — Pogba, Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.”

“[Ibrahimovic] made a full recovery. Now you cannot expect him to be ready to play 90 minutes or to be ready to play consecutive matches like he did all his career.

“Now he needs time to be back to his level, his fitness, his confidence, his sharpness, his everything. But, from the clinical point of view, to be good and ready is fantastic.”

2018 World Cup Power Rankings — 7 months B.W.C.

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209 days — that’s how long the world is still being made to wait for the opening game of the 2018 World Cup. It’s close, in that all 32 berths have been secured, but still so far, in that the draw is still two weeks away.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2018 World Cup coverage | USMNT | Premier League ]

Perhaps then, and only then, will it begin to feel really real.

According to our esteemed panelists — Joe Prince-Wright, Nicholas Mendola, Kyle Bonn, Matt Reed, Dan Karell and yours truly — four clear-cut favorites for the semifinals have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, followed by another six or eight sides with one half of their squad firing on all cylinders but some serious kinks to work out elsewhere.

[ MORE: Round 1 of the WC power rankings | Round 2 ]

Finally, the latest edition of PST’s 2018 World Cup Power Rankings, now featuring all 32 teams qualified for Russia…

Team Points Best Worst
1 (1) Germany 189 1 2
2 (2) Brazil 188 1 3
3 (4) Spain 177 3 5
4 (3) France 176 3 5
5 (8) Argentina 158 4 10
6 (5) Belgium 156 4 10
7 (7) Portugal 153 6 10
8 (11) England 150 5 12
9 (6) Uruguay 141 6 14
10 (9) Colombia 140 7 12
11 (10) Mexico 129 8 14
12 (12) Poland 125 10 14
13 (20) Croatia 118 7 20
14 (17) Switzerland 115 12 16
15 (NR) Sweden 92 16 19
16 (NR) Denmark 86 13 23
17 (NR) Serbia 83 9 28
18 (NR) Peru 80 15 25
19 (15) Iceland 79 15 24
20 (16) Japan 71 16 27
21 (NR) Egypt 66 18 27
22 (NR) South Korea 64 13 32
23 (NR) Senegal 63 17 26
24 (18) Nigeria 58 15 27
25 (19) Costa Rica 57 14 29
26 (NR) Morocco 48 18 29
27 (NR) Australia 45 22 30
28 (NR) Russia 36 20 32
29 (NR) Iran 34 22 31
30 (NR) Tunisia 30 23 31
31 (NR) Panama 19 28 32
32 (NR) Saudi Arabia 9 31 32

Zidane anxiously awaiting goals from Ronaldo

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MADRID (AP) For Zinedine Zidane, the Madrid derby on Saturday is just what Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema need to break their scoring slump.

The Real Madrid forwards have been struggling in the Spanish league, with just two goals between them.

Ronaldo, while striking six times in the Champions League, has tallied only one in seven Liga appearances.

Benzema is having an even tougher time, with just two in 12 matches across all competitions.

“It’s true that this is not normal, but they just need to keep training and keep trying as they have been doing,” Zidane says.

“You don’t need to tell Karim and Cristiano that they should train more, it’s something they do. They will go out on the pitch and score, I am sure of it.”

Over his career, Ronaldo has thrived against Real’s crosstown rival, Atletico. He holds the record for the Spanish capital derby with 21 goals.

Benzema’s performances, however, have not been as impressive, with three goals in his last 14 league matches against Atletico.

Zidane says Ronaldo and Benzema focused on recovering their scoring form last week during the international break, when they stayed at the club instead of joining their national sides.

“We have been working on it,” he said. “What I want is that my players, my forwards, play well, and tomorrow is a good match for them to keep trying.”

Their scoring droughts have contributed to Real’s irregular season.

Real is in third place and level on points with Atletico, which is fourth after having trouble winning at its new Wanda Metropolitan Stadium.

Both sides need a victory to keep pace with leader Barcelona, which visits Leganes hours earlier.

If Barcelona wins, Madrid and Atletico will be staring at an 11-point gap by kickoff.