Match ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Middlesbrough 0.
Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Middlesbrough
Tottenham re-established a nine-point gap to Premier League leaders Chelsea with a workmanlike victory over Middlesbrough at White Hart Lane.
Chelsea had moved 12 points clear with their impressive 3-1 win over Arsenal in the lunchtime kick-off, but Harry Kane's second-half penalty ensured Spurs did not cede any ground to their London rivals.
Tottenham now have clear air in second place after defeats for nearest challengers Arsenal and Liverpool, although fifth-placed Manchester City could close back to within a point when they play on Sunday.
Tottenham's seventh successive home win was secured when Kane fired home from 12 yards after Son Heung-min was hauled down in the area by Bernardo Espinosa and referee Mark Clattenburg correctly pointed to the spot.
The hosts were without injured defenders Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen, but Middlesbrough did not do enough to put pressure on their understudies, with the visitors failing to produce a shot on target over the 90 minutes.
Boro have won just one of their past 10 matches and are being sucked ever closer to the relegation fight, with one point now separating them from third-bottom Hull City.
Spurs do just enough for victory
This will not go down as one of the great nights at White Hart Lane - far from it - but winning when playing below par is a hallmark of all great teams so there are plenty of positives to take away.
And it should not be forgotten that Middlesbrough's campaign to date has been built on frustrating the opposition, with their 12 away games so far producing just 21 goals in total.
Aitor Karanka's men have drawn six times on the road this term and very nearly succeeded in snatching a point again, and would have done so but for Bernardo's ill-judged tackle on Son, which allowed Kane to score his ninth league goal in his past eight appearances at home.
That spared Spurs the frustration of failing to score in back-to-back league games since May 2015, having been held to a 0-0 draw at Sunderland in their last outing.
The goal aside, Spurs also came close when Christian Eriksen's well-hit shot brought a good save from Victor Valdes, while Toby Alderweireld and Son both hit the frame of the goal and Kane had an effort ruled out for offside.
"We created the chances, we just weren't finishing them," said Kane. "We are delighted with the win. No game is easy in the Premier League. We'll take 1-0."
Are toothless Boro heading for trouble?
Boro's failure to get a shot on target is perhaps as misleading statistic, as they certainly applied pressure on the Tottenham goal on more than one occasion.
Alvaro Negredo headed over the bar in the first half and in the second executed a superb bicycle kick from the right side of the area that Hugo Llloris could only watch as it flashed past his right post.
Their best chance arrived at the death when Marten de Roon flashed a volley just wide, but it would have been a barely deserved equaliser had it found the net.
Boro have attempted a league-low 56 shots on target in the Premier League this season, 16 fewer than any other team, and will need to show greater ambition in the coming months if they are to pull clear of danger.
Man of the match - Victor Wanyama (Tottenham)
'I think we showed we were much better'
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino: "I think in the last few games the opponents have played very deep and closed the gaps, difficult to break down. It's important the control we showed today and the chances we created.
"I don't think they had a shot on target which is also important. I think we showed we were much better and deserved the win.
"When you don't kill the game you leave it open. In the last second you can concede, that's the Premier League. Thankfully it didn't and we are happy."
Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka: "At the end we had a few chances to score. I said at half-time the way we had to play, without pressure.
"If you are here playing under pressure against Tottenham it is impossible and at the end we had chances to score.
"The players did their best and that is the good thing. They put everything on the pitch. Again, we have to know it will be a tough season but we are showing we can compete against every single team."
Spurs on best home run since 2006 - match stats
- Tottenham have won 26 of their past 28 Premier League games against newly promoted sides (D2 L0).
- Tottenham have won each of their past seven home league games, last achieving a longer run in August 2009 (a run of eight).
- Spurs' run of home wins is their best within the same season since December 2006 (also seven in a row).
- Pochettino's side are still unbeaten in all 12 of their Premier League home matches this season (W10 D2 L0).
- Middlesbrough did not attempt a single shot on target - for the second time in a Premier League game this season (also vs Everton in September).
A big game awaits Tottenham next Saturday with a trip to top-four rivals Liverpool their assignment (17:30 GMT). Middlesbrough host Everton the same day, at 15:00 GMT.
- 20AlliSubstituted forWinksat 88'minutes
- 7Son Heung-minSubstituted forSissokoat 81'minutes
- 10KaneSubstituted forJanssenat 90+3'minutes
- 14de RoonBooked at 38mins
- 34ForshawSubstituted forGuédiouraat 62'minutes
- 37TraoréSubstituted forBamfordat 79'minutes
- 19DowningSubstituted forStuaniat 62'minutes
- Mark Clattenburg
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Tottenham Hotspur 1, Middlesbrough 0.
Hand ball by Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur).
Attempt blocked. Álvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Vincent Janssen replaces Harry Kane.
Attempt missed. Marten de Roon (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Álvaro Negredo.
Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough).
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Ben Davies.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Winks replaces Dele Alli.
Attempt missed. Álvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Fabio.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Fabio.
Attempt blocked. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Ben Davies tries a through ball, but Harry Kane is caught offside.
Substitution, Tottenham Hotspur. Moussa Sissoko replaces Son Heung-Min.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Patrick Bamford replaces Adama Traoré.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Bernardo.
Attempt blocked. Marten de Roon (Middlesbrough) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Adama Traoré with a cross.
Offside, Tottenham Hotspur. Kyle Walker tries a through ball, but Harry Kane is caught offside.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough) because of an injury.
Foul by Ben Davies (Tottenham Hotspur).
Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough).
Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Calum Chambers (Middlesbrough).
Attempt missed. Adlène Guédioura (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Calum Chambers.
Attempt missed. Son Heung-Min (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Dele Alli.
Foul by Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur).
Fabio (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Adlène Guédioura replaces Adam Forshaw.
Substitution, Middlesbrough. Cristhian Stuani replaces Stewart Downing.
Attempt saved. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Harry Kane.
Goal! Tottenham Hotspur 1, Middlesbrough 0. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Penalty Tottenham Hotspur. Son Heung-Min draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Bernardo (Middlesbrough) after a foul in the penalty area.
Corner, Tottenham Hotspur. Conceded by Ben Gibson.
Corner, Middlesbrough. Conceded by Christian Eriksen.
Attempt blocked. Álvaro Negredo (Middlesbrough) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Calum Chambers.