Antonio Conte hailed Tottenham's fighting spirit after a "vital" win against Leicester City kept them in contention for Champions League qualification, which "no one could have imagined" when he was appointed.

Former Chelsea boss Conte returned to the Premier League with Spurs at the start of November when Tottenham were ninth, five points off the top four after just 10 matches.

However, since then, only Manchester City (63) and Liverpool (60) have earned more points than Conte's men (46).

A 3-1 victory at home to Leicester moved Spurs into fourth place ahead of rivals Arsenal, at least prior to the Gunners' trip to West Ham later on Sunday.

"It was a good performance against a really good team and not an easy game," Conte told BBC Sport, "But you know in England there are never any easy games – especially against Leicester, who have a good squad.

"Despite making [nine] changes, the Leicester team was good and strong, so for this reason we have to be delighted we got three points. It was of vital importance to us to stay in this race.

"No one could have imagined when I arrived in November we could be in this race still, but these players are deserving to fight for such an important place.

"It is not easy to qualify for the Champions League in England."

Tottenham 3-1 Leicester

Harry Kane scored the first goal – his 17th in 14 Premier League games against Leicester – before Son Heung-min, having created the opener, netted twice.

Son's second was a superb, curling effort from outside the box with his weaker left foot. He now has 11 left-footed goals this season, with only Robin van Persie (12 with his right foot in 2011-12) ever scoring more goals with his weaker foot in a single campaign.

It is now 19 league goals for the season for Son, his career high, but team success remain his primary focus.

"It's not important, because I want to play Champions League for next season," Son said. "Scoring 19 goals, 30 goals, 25 goals, it's not important for me; the team is more important than myself.

"I do my best for the team, I try my best for the team, and if I get a chance, I try to score. But the numbers are not important.

"I want to finish with these guys, with this team [in the top four] to play Champions League next season. This is more important than anything else at the moment."