Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says Tottenham can challenge for the Premier League title after they ended his side’s 13-game winning run with a 2-0 win at White Hart Lane.
Two Dele Alli headers inflicted a first defeat on Chelsea since September and left Spurs seven points back in third.
“Tottenham are a really strong team and are, for sure, one of the teams that can fight for the title,” Conte said.
Boss Mauricio Pochettino said Spurs “can challenge for the big things”.
Tottenham were Leicester’s closest title challengers for much of the run-in last season – moving to within five points with four games left – but eventually finished third behind Arsenal after a stuttering finish.
This season they are unbeaten at home in the Premier League and Pochettino, 44, says that consistency will be the key to success at the top of the table.
He said: “The top four is very competitive. There are a lot of games to play but this result is very important for us.
“We showed in our performance we can be competitive and we can achieve big things but it is also true you have to do this regularly and show consistency during the whole season.”
Conte had not seen his side drop points in 101 days since a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal but said he must be satisfied with his team being five points clear at the top after 20 games.
“We knew that defeat could happen before the game,” he said. “It is a pity to stop this run, but Tottenham fought last season and they can fight also this year.
“Don’t forget we lost to a good team. They are one of the six teams who can fight for the title.
“We must work hard and be pleased with our position in the table, but know this league is tough until the end.”
Tottenham open up the title race – analysis
by chief football writer Phil McNulty
Tottenham opened up the title race with this victory.
Chelsea are in a strong position, being five points clear, but their manager Antonio Conte, as gracious in defeat as he has been in victory, insists it is now a six-way fight to the finishing line.
Liverpool’s disappointment at failing to beat Sunderland will have been eased by Chelsea’s loss while Tottenham’s own aspirations were lifted as they moved into third.
Manchester United are 10 points behind Chelsea in sixth but Conte clearly regards them as genuine rivals under Jose Mourinho and their meeting with Liverpool at Old Trafford next weekend now assumes even greater significance.
The theory expounded by some that Chelsea could already be handed the title is complete nonsense but it should also be noted it took a performance of real power and purpose from Spurs to stop them getting that historic 14th successive league win.
So, according to Conte, the title winners will come from Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Manchester City, Arsenal or Manchester United – and with 18 games to there is still plenty of time for twists and turns.
‘Spurs can go unnoticed no longer’
Spurs have almost moved by stealth into the Premier League title race – pushing their way in among the frontrunners while eyes have been trained elsewhere.
All the talk has centred on Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal’s various strengths and failings while Pochettino’s side have reeled off five straight wins to go third.
Spurs looked the full package as they stopped Chelsea getting an historic win.
They have class and quality sprinkled throughout their team and against Chelsea it was the power of Victor Wanyama, the creation of Christian Eriksen and the finishing of Alli that did the job.
Spurs can go unnoticed no longer.
Pochettino’s side could not quite go the distance last season, running out of legs on the final lap as Leicester City claimed the title.
They have the talent to take this season all the way and will surely have learned from that last campaign.
Spurs have shown their credentials at home this season with wins over Manchester City and Chelsea – and they have the chance to do the same in the coming weeks on their travels when they visit City and Liverpool.
If Spurs get results there to back up this outstanding win against Chelsea, maybe they and their fans can start to believe they have a real chance of making up for the disappointment of last season.