New father Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur crushed West Bromwich Albion 4-0 on Saturday to climb to second place in the Premier League table.
Kane’s hat-trick, which took his season tally to 15 goals, capped an outstanding performance that ensured Mauricio Pochettino’s side maintained the standards set in last week’s defeat of leaders Chelsea.
The result was never in doubt from the moment Kane put Spurs ahead in the 12th minute, with a Gareth McAuley own goal doubling the score before two more Kane goals late in the second half completed the win.
Tottenham have now won six league games in a row, while Kane’s goals were the perfect way for the striker to mark the birth of his first child, daughter Ivy Jane, who arrived last weekend.
The only downside for Spurs manager Pochettino at White Hart Lane was the loss of Jan Vertonghen to a potentially serious ankle injury midway through the second half, the centre-back limping off in tears.
This performance was in marked contrast to the corresponding fixture last April, when a 1-1 draw heralded the beginning of the end of Spurs’ bid to pip eventual champions Leicester City to the title.
Nine months on, Pochettino’s side are on the rise and this display confirmed just how far they have come since their disappointing collapse at the end of last season.
An early left-wing cross from Danny Rose flashed in front of Ben Foster’s goal and should have been turned home by Kane, who succeeded only in deflecting the ball beyond the far post.
It was clear, however, that that miss was never going to prove costly and the England striker quickly made amends by firing his side ahead after a slick build-up that summed up Spurs’ vibrant display.
Mousa Dembele, excellent throughout, was involved before Victor Wanyama played the ball into the feet of Christian Eriksen, who laid a short pass into the path of Kane on the edge of the West Brom box.
– Formidable Foster –
The forward turned quickly and with Foster advancing, lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and in off the left-hand post.
Kane should have added a second goal 12 minutes later when he produced a diving header from Wanyama’s cross, only for Foster’s outstanding, point-blank save to keep his side in the game.
But the reprieve was brief as Tottenham’s relentless pressure produced a second goal within a minute.
This time Foster had no chance, with Eriksen’s low shot from the edge of the area taking two deflections –- the most significant off McAuley –- to leave the visiting goalkeeper wrong-footed.
From that point, a Tottenham victory was inevitable and it took another fine save from Foster to prevent Kane from confirming his side’s dominance with a left-foot shot that was diverted onto the post.
Albion manager Tony Pulis reshaped his side at the interval, starting the second period in a 3-4-3 formation that mirrored Spurs’ line-up.
The switch appeared to work, with West Brom winger Matt Phillips firing narrowly wide with his side’s first meaningful effort on Hugo Lloris’s goal.
But the visitors’ response was short-lived as Tottenham quickly regained control, although they once again found Foster a formidable obstacle as they attempted to add to their lead.
The third goal eventually came in the 77th minute when Kane acrobatically turned home Kyle Walker’s right-wing cross after the hapless McAuley had been caught in possession.
Kane completed his hat-trick five minutes later when he exchanged passes with Alli, who played in his England team-mate with a superb, scooped pass, and the forward beat Foster with a close-range volley. –Agence France-Presse