LONDON Harry Kane was on target again to earn Tottenham Hotspur a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Saturday but the stalemate opens a path for Leicester City to forge seven points clear in the title race this weekend.
While Arsenal crushed Watford 4-0 and Manchester City hammered Bournemouth by the same score to breathe fresh life into their faint hopes, Leicester's closest pursuers moved to within four points thanks to Kane's predatory instincts.
After Philippe Coutinho had put Liverpool ahead soon after halftime in a vibrant contest, Kane conjured a brilliant strike out of very little to become the first Spurs player in the Premier League era to score 22 league goals in a season.
Leicester, who have played one game fewer, now have the chance to open a huge gap over Mauricio Pochettino's side with just six matches left if they can beat Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
Kane, who felt "very proud of a great achievement" after becoming Spurs' highest scorer in any league season since Gary Lineker in 1991-92, said his team were "a tad disappointed" with the result.
"We will watch the Leicester game tomorrow and hope Southampton can get a result and do us a favour," he told Sky Sports.
In the battle for Champions League football next season, not even another free kick masterpiece from Dimitri Payet could inspire fifth-placed West Ham United as they had Cheikhou Kouyate sent off in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
At the other end of the table, Aston Villa's disillusioned fans made a long, loud protest as their side were humiliated 4-0 at home to Chelsea and now stand on the verge of relegation.
Newcastle United are hot favourites to join Villa in the Championship next season after going down 3-2 in a dramatic clash at fellow strugglers Norwich City who celebrated a 93rd-minute winner from Martin Olsson.
United's north-east rivals Sunderland are also in deep trouble, four points adrift of safety after a goalless home draw with West Bromwich Albion.
After losing three home games in a row, Arsenal rebounded to dominate Watford, who had knocked them out of the FA Cup at the Emirates Stadium last month, with Alexis Sanchez, Alex Iwobi, Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott on target.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who singled out exciting young Nigerian Iwobi for praise, said the performance had "brought a lot of belief back".
On whether the Gunners were still in the title hunt, Wenger said: "It doesn't matter how realistic our challenge is, we can only believe in our own game. We just continue".
Manchester City had lost four of their last six games but stopped the rot with a blistering start at Bournemouth, Fernando, Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero scoring within 19 minutes.
Aleksandar Kolarov added the fourth in the dying seconds.
Arsenal are third, eight points behind Leicester and four adrift of Spurs, but they lead fourth-placed Manchester City by four.
The most dramatic action came in the relegation dog-fight at Carrow Road where Aleksandar Mitrovic looked set to be Newcastle's hero again.
He followed up his equaliser against Sunderland two weeks ago with two more goals including an 86th-minute penalty that looked set to earn his side a point.
Norwich, who had led twice through Timm Klose and Dieumerci Mbokani, were not to be denied though and Swedish full back Olsson raced through to hit the winner with a low drive three minutes into added time.
Villa's woes continued with a pitiful performance and a seventh straight league defeat.
Thousands of fans held up banners in protest and began walking out of Villa Park after 74 minutes following Chelsea goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, on-loan Brazilian international Alexandre Pato and two from Pedro.
Elsewhere, Stoke City drew 2-2 at home to Swansea City.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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