By Ian Chadband
REUTERS - Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane scored twice in a 3-0 win over Bournemouth to thrust them back on to the heels of leaders Leicester City and become the leading Premier League marksman after another eventful Sunday in the top flight.
While Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford continued his staggering rise, scoring a delightful goal to secure a 1-0 win at Manchester City in his debut derby, Kane was busy enhancing his claim to being England's top striker.
Kane's clinical double within the first 16 minutes at White Hart Lane, including a strike after 43 seconds, took the 22-year-old's tally to 21 league goals for the season and put Spurs back within five points of Leicester.
But Manchester City's challenge appeared to have evaporated after Rashford's goal at the Etihad left them in fourth place, 15 points adrift of the leaders and one point clear of their sixth-placed neighbours and West Ham United, who are fifth.
Spurs had no worries once Kane turned in Kyle Walker's cross inside a minute before the now-familiar link-up between provider Dele Alli and finisher Kane effectively sealed victory. Christian Eriksen made it three after 52 minutes.
"Harry Kane is one of the best strikers in the world," Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino told reporters. "The gap that Leicester have over us and Arsenal and Manchester City, we need to reduce. They have a good advantage but we need to believe."
Rashford, not for the first time, provided the fairytale of the day, following up his debut goals in the Europa League and Premier League by decorating his first Manchester derby with a goal of rare panache after 16 minutes.
Too fast and too skilful for hapless City defender Martin Demichelis, who ended up tumbling on his backside as Rashford zoomed past, the youngster then finished with side-footed precision past Joe Hart.
At 18 years and 141 days, the Mancunian became the youngest scorer in a Manchester derby in the Premier League era and he should have been awarded a penalty when Michelis got away with bringing him down in the box just before halftime.
City piled on the pressure after the break as their Argentina striker Sergio Aguero squandered a hat-trick of chances but Louis van Gaal's men held firm to make critical ground in the ever-closer race for a Champions League place.
"He is a real striker... I like him very much," said United manager Louis van Gaal, praising Rashford's latest tour de force in an important victory that he felt had provided a "big boost" for his side's run-in.
At the other end of the table, in a match billed as one of the most important of the 156 Tyne-Wear derbies, Newcastle United and Sunderland fought out a 1-1 draw which does neither side any favours in the relegation dog-fight.
Newcastle's Aleksandar Mitrovic soared to nod home a 83rd minute equaliser in front of the relieved St James' Park faithful just when they feared Sunderland were headed for a remarkable seventh straight derby win after Jermain Defoe's left-foot volley put the visitors ahead just before the break.
The late goal by Serbian Mitrovic earned Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez the first point of his new reign and left the Spaniard saying he had seen enough in his first home game to think Newcastle can avoid the drop.
"I think we can stay up," Benitez told the BBC. "We have to keep working, I believe we can play better and from what I have seen today in the second half, we can do well."
The real beneficiaries of the draw were Norwich City, who stay one place above the drop zone in 17th spot, two points clear of Sunderland and three ahead of Newcastle, although the Canaries have played a game more.
Southampton staged a remarkable second-half recovery from 2-0 down at the interval with Sadio Mane making amends for missing a 49th minute penalty by then scoring twice, including an 86th minute winner, in their 3-2 victory over Liverpool.
(Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris)