Spurs 5 Southampton 2
This was a match in which Harry Kane was the story but not the whole difference.
The team stepped up alongside him and I personally made Jan Vertonghen Man of the Match. Jan’s covering performance was immense on a day when our defensive unit had some wobbles (yes, a couple caused by Jan’s own lapses) and Poch’s tactical focus seemed to be on outscoring Southampton.
Eriksen, Dele and Son tore Southampton’s back-6 to pieces. While Kane simply did what he does better than any striker in the PL and, arguably now, in Europe (ie. in world football). Dierbele in midfield were not at last season’s level but they looked better than they have for a while. Aurier, Rose and Sanchez had decent games. In fact, it’s not clear to me with hindsight how Southampton fashioned as many chances as they did. A 5-2 score line feels like the Saints actually got off lightly. I didn’t think much of the ref.
But in the end today was all about Harry. He went into the final match of 2017 needing a single goal to break Alan Shearer’s record. Within 22 minutes he’d got that goal, After 39 minutes he moved ahead of Messi at the top of the European Charts and on 67 minutes he was out on his own, thanks to his 8th hat-trick of 2017.
Harry is the first player in Premier League history to score six PL hat-tricks in a single calendar year (plus 1 in the FA Cup v Fulham and 1 in the CL v Apoel).
Harry has already scored eight PL hat-tricks in total, as many as Thierry Henry and Michael Owen managed in their careers – only Alan Shearer (11) and Robbie Fowler (9) have more in the history of the Premier League.
Harry reached his PL goal-scoring record in 36 games – six fewer than Shearer in 1995.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that Harry already lay 9th in the PL all-time scoring charts for a single year, having scored 27 goals in 2015. Only 6 PL players Shearer, van Persie, Henry, Ferdinand, Suarez and Aguero have scored more than 27 goals within a calendar year. Pretty decent company to keep.
For the first time since 2009, the name on top of European goal scorers is not Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s Harry Kane.
Goal 1: A magnificent run by Rose resulted in an edge of the box free-kick. Kane wanted to have a pop himself but Eriksen took it. Christian whipped it into Harry’s head about a yard out. 1-0. Broken record.
Goal 2: Transition play resulted in Dele dodging and weaving on the edge of the Southampton box. He carved a beautiful ball to Son’s run on the left. Heung-Min crossed onto Harry’s left foot about a yard out. 2-0. Another record.
Then, arguably Kane’s best bit of play in the entire match was a superb, defence-splitting 40 yard pass to Son. It was aimed, weighted and curled to perfection. Son was brought down for what looked a clear penalty but the ref gave a goal-kick. Should have led to Harry’s hat before half-time.
Goal 3 (Dele): More transition play in the 49th minute saw Son and Dele exchanging passes on the edge of the Saints box. Dele weaved left, cut right and curled a beautiful grubber past Forster’s outstretched fingers just inside the far corner. 3-0. Game Over.
Goal 4 (Son): A Dele assist this time. Just two minutes after scoring his goal, Dele eased a lovely through ball to a speeding Son, who rifled a right footer past Forster. 4-0. Double or quits.
Fair play to Saints and their manager. Plenty of teams come to Spurs to park the bus from the kickoff. At 0-4, it would have been quite understandable if Pellegrini had opted to avoid humiliation and quit trying to play. Instead he threw caution to the wind and went for broke. On 64 minutes, Boufal made the score 4-1 with a shot from the left that Lloris misjudged at his near post.
Goal 5: You sense that Saints’ goal pissed Spurs off. On 67 minutes, we snapped into turnover possession on the half way line. Dele played a pass that few players could even contemplate, as brave, accurate and perfectly weighted as Kane’s to Son had been earlier in the match. Eye of a needle stuff. Harry took it in his stride and calmly flipped it over Forster. 5-1. Hat-trick and Spurs (temporarily) up to 4th in the table.
Our defence has simply not been what it was last Season. Wanyama has been much missed but at least he’s now back in training. Toby has been a huge loss since limping off against R Madrid. Lloris always plays his best when our back-3/4/5 is imperious in front of him. Aurier and Rose are improving but they need more time together.
Southampton rolled the dice and could have shipped 6 or 7. However, they managed to create chances and Tadic finally scored their second in the 81st minute. Lloris mis-timed his punch on a Saints corner, allowing Tadic to lob the ball back towards goal. Hugo got a hand on it, but the deflection still rolled into the back of the net. Typically, who was on our goal line trying to prevent Southampton?
Yes, Harry Kane.
All the best for 2018.