Record-breaking Kane marches on as Spurs beat Saints
Striker becomes the highest-scoring Premier League forward in a calendar year with stunning hat-trick at Wembley
26 December, 2017 — By Dan Carrier
SPURS 5 (Kane 22, 39, 67. Alli 49, Son 51)
SOUTHAMPTON 2 (Boufal 64, Tadic 82)
IT felt inevitable. The game was 21 minutes old and Spurs were getting into their stride when a free-kick was sent into the box and Harry Kane dashed to meet it. The net rippled, the crowd roared and Kane spun away, hands aloft, to become the highest scoring Premier League forward in any one calendar year.
It was the first of yet another hat-trick as Spurs saw out 2017 with a stroll in a 5-2 win against Southampton. It also allowed Kane to add yet more goals to the ledger of Tottenham’s talisman. The figures are more than impressive – and they put him in the top bracket of footballers playing anywhere today
Alan Shearer had struck 36 times in 42 games for Blackburn Rovers back in 1995, but in 2017 Kane has managed to go three better, totalling 39, in six fewer matches. He has now scored eight hat-tricks in one year, more than every other striker in the Premier League combined over the same period, and has hit the back of the net more times in 2017 than Lionel Messi – his tally of 55 in total making him the highest-scoring centre-forward in Europe.
But it isn’t just the goals that have won him a special place in Tottenham fans’ hearts, nor the fact he is an Academy kid who we have watched slowly grow into perhaps the deadliest striker in Europe. We remember the days when he was the red-faced teenager scampering around in League Cup games, or trying to make the most of snatched five-minute substitute appearances in dead-rubber matches.
All these things are part of his charm, but perhaps his greatest appeal is the fact he is so down to earth. There is no preening about him, no Flash Harry ego. He stops for fans and grins in selfies. He talks himself down, praises his team-mates, and continually references hard work and determination. He says his secret is to “keeping going”. There are no delusions of genius or big-headed claims that he is something special. There are no purple crushed velvet suits or after0-shave adverts, a la Cristiano Ronaldo.
No, Kane seems to think he has got where he is through graft and nothing else. Those of us fortunate to watch him every week know this isn’t the case – he is, of course, a natural talent. But how refreshing that he doesn’t swan about, giving it the big I Am, and instead repeats over and over that his game is simply the product of training ground sweat and the contribution of his team-mates.
And his coach Mauricio Pochettino made this clear after the game.
He said: “For me, it isn’t just that he is a massive talent as a striker. I know how he is as a person, as a professional. He is a pleasure to work with every single day. And now he is at this level, he has to fight to improve, to get better. It is small steps when you are this good. You need to keep working hard and be even more focussed.”
Pochettino went on to say the statistics show the 24-year-old belongs in the top tier of footballers today.
He added: “In the past eight, nine seasons it has been Messi and Ronaldo, Ronaldo and Messi [as Europe’s top scorers] and now it is Harry Kane.”
Kane’s record-breaking goal was via an emphatic, thumping header. The excellent Danny Rose had won a free-kick after being knocked over as he went on a barnstorming run down the left. Christian Eriksen’s cross flew into the danger area and Kane’s movement bought him the space he needed to plant the ball past Fraser Forster.
It was a special moment for all connected to the club, and one we all knew was coming, such is his potency.
It felt the same for his second, too, on 38 minutes. Another patient Spurs move down the left saw Heung-Min Son played in behind a stretched Southampton defence, and Kane on the six-yard box to provide the killer touch. It was a flowing move, and Southampton were unable to get close as Spurs picked their way through the visitors’ defence.
The game never looked in doubt, but it was dead and buried on 49 minutes. A quick break saw Dele Alli wriggle free on the left and he arrowed a low, curling shot into the corner with dead-eye accuracy.
The scoreline didn’t last more than a couple of minutes. Alli, brimming with confidence, took the ball away from the Spurs half and Son burst past him. Alli found his team-mate and he thumped home to further increase the lead.
On 63 minutes, after a double substitution from the Saints, Sofiane Boufal pulled one back, but there was, yet again, more to come from Kane. On 66 minutes, Alli picked out Kane and he needed just one controlled chip to take the ball over Forster and give him his eighth hat-trick of 2017.
Dusan Tadic got another back on 80 minutes after Hugo Lloris cleared a corner without conviction and then couldn’t get a strong enough hand to keep the ball out when it came back into the mix. But it was nothing more than a nice distraction for the fans from the south coast who had made the early start to get here.
As Pochettino said, today was the Kane show – but Spurs were brilliant across the board. The beaming coach added: “We feel this is an achievement for everybody in the club. “We are proud, and I am happy for all the coaching staff who work with Harry, too.”
Spurs: Lloris, Rose, Verthonghen, Sanchez, Son (Lamela, 75), Kane, Dier, Dembele (Sissoko, 53), Alli (Winks, 83), Eriksen, Aurier.
Subs not used: Vorm, Trippier, Llorente, Davies.
Southampton: Forster, Yoshida, Stephens, Hoedt, Long, Romeu, Lemina (Gabbiadini, 62), Boufal, Redmond (Tadic, 62), Hojberg, Targett (McQueen, 75),.
Subs not used: McCarthy, Davis, Ward-Prowse, Pied.