- Associated Press - Sunday, April 10, 2016

LONDON (AP) - Tottenham scored three times in a swaggering six-minute spell to end a 15-year winless run at home to Manchester United on Sunday, grabbing an impressive 3-0 victory that maintained its pursuit of Premier League leader Leicester.

United’s capitulation from the 70th minute - rapidly conceding goals from Dele Alli, Toby Alderweireld and Erik Lamela - was a major setback for Louis van Gaal’s quest to make the top four. Manchester City is now four points ahead of neighbor United in the fourth and final Champions League place.

But second-place Tottenham is strongly placed to qualify for the Champions League, Europe’s top competition, for only the second time.

Manager Mauricio Pochettino, who said he missed the third goal because he was in the toilet, hasn’t fully given up on delivering Tottenham’s first title since 1961 even though Leicester remains seven points in front after beating Sunderland 2-0 earlier Sunday.

“It was important for us after the Leicester game to show character and maturity,” Pochettino said. “We sent a message we are there, waiting and fighting. And if they fail we need to stay there. Seven points is a difficult gap to reduce but we have to believe.”

Pochettino only got the job in 2014 because Van Gaal spurned Tottenham’s interest to succeed the ill-fated David Moyes at United.

The former Netherlands coach insists he has no regrets despite Tottenham being 12 points ahead of United.

“The challenge was bigger for me at Manchester United and shall always be bigger,” Van Gaal said. “I’m sorry for Tottenham but Manchester United is a bigger club.”

United couldn’t navigate the London traffic successfully, though.

The goal flurry came when the game should have been over. It started 30 minutes late at White Hart Lane because United was stuck in traffic traveling by bus from central to north London.

But it was lethargic Tottenham stuck in first gear as the game eventually kicked off, with United motoring forward to apply early pressure. The atmosphere was subdued as Tottenham could find no way to enter United territory until the 17th when David De Gea thwarted Harry Kane from close range.

The hosts intensified the pressure but De Gea was proving hard to beat.

Lamela wastefully missed the target with a header after being picked out precisely by Christian Eriksen. There was another agonizing moment for Tottenham just before halftime when Eriksen floated in a free kick and Eric Dier couldn’t make a clean connection in front of goal.

Halftime saw Louis van Gaal replace striker Marcus Rashford, scorer of five goals since his first-team debut less than two months ago, as his target man with winger Ashley Young.

Still, United had a chance to take the lead on the hour when Anthony Martial rampaged down the left flank and cut inside only to see his shot parried by Hugo Lloris.

“It is not easy against a team like Tottenham Hotspur to create a lot of chances,” Van Gaal said.

United never came close again. Ten minutes later, the visitors were ruthlessly ripped apart.

Kane worked hard on the ground to seize possession around the halfway line and then fed the ball to Eriksen. The midfielder crossed into the path of Alli, who evaded Daley Blind to put Tottenham in front.

De Gea was beaten again in the 74th, with Alderweireld meeting Lamela’s free kick with a header.

And Lamela swept the ball into the net six minutes and 46 seconds after Alli’s opener as United’s defense was run ragged.

“I watched from the TV because I had just left the toilet in the manager’s room,” Pochettino said. “I heard the crowd.”

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