Kane turns provider for four-goal Son to serve up appetising Bale welcome
Ings 32, 90 pen
Son 45+2, 47, 64, 73, Kane 82
Watching this in the bar of his local golf club, Gareth Bale must have been salivating at the thought of what will happen when he overcomes his knee injury and gets to play regularly with Harry Kane. Not so much for the opportunity to admire the England captain’s finishing from close quarters. But at the prospect of the passes he might convert.
Because this match proved Kane to be not just a fine finisher but the king of providers. As well as scoring his 10th goal in 10 successive league matches against Southampton, he delivered no fewer than four assists for his effervescent strike partner Son Heung-min. The idea of Bale linking up with those two on this sort of form will have sent a shiver of terror down the spines of Premier League rivals. Surely even Jose Mourinho could not stop them becoming among the most devastating front threes in Europe.
“Finishing is probably what I say is my main skill and it was not even difficult finishing because Harry’s passing was incredible,” said a delighted Son, clutching the match ball after the game. “I’m very happy Harry Kane scored. When you make an incredible game with four assists, he’s one of the best strikers in the world, he’s hungry.”
What a welcome note the pair offered their new signing. From the moment Son equalised, after Danny Ings’s smart opener, just before halfThe time, the two of them were irrepressible in attack: quick-witted, powerful, ruthless. Every chance that dropped their way was dispatched with aplomb. You can only wonder what the scoreline might have been had the entire Spurs team woken up 45 minutes earlier.
The visitors, who had been disrupted by a fire alarm in their hotel at 4.45am, were rotten for much of the opening period. With Dele Alli again not even making the bench, they looked leaden of feet and ideas. Despite Kane putting the ball in the net after three minutes (it was ruled out for offside by Var) they were quickly on the back foot.
With a gap the size of Hampshire between Spurs’s front line and their midfield, Southampton were able almost at will to pass in behind their defence.
First Che Adams played in Ings, who rounded Hugo Lloris and put the ball away, only for the linesman to notice he had controlled the ball with his hand in the build-up. He made no such error when a pass from Kyle Walker-Peters, floated over Eric Dier, found him once more running beyond Spurs’s last defender. The forward caressed the ball with one touch before firing past Lloris. It was a masterful finish, but the defending was woeful.
Fortunately for Spurs, where there is Kane there is hope. With half-time approaching, and after Lloris was required to make a worldclass save to deny Adams, Tanguy Ndombele won the ball and drove forward. He then passed crisply to Kane, who in turn perfectly fed Son. As the ball arced across the area in front of him, the Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy started to come out, then changed his mind, leaving Son with the space to bend a shot into the corner of the goal.
It was to prove Ndombele’s last contribution. He was taken off at half-time, replaced by Giovani Lo Celso. The Argentine’s first offering, moments after the restart, was to thread the ball through to Kane, who turned and set Son away. The South Korean does not need more than the merest sniff of a chance and he slotted past McCarthy.
From there, Southampton heads seemed to sink. “If we make it that easy for them, they have so much quality they can score. We were naive,” admitted home manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Son completed his hat-trick when he was played in behind once more by Kane, who had been given too much time in front of a hesitant back four. Superbly and confidently, he put the ball between McCarthy’s legs. Kane’s fourth assist for his strike partner came nine minutes later with a wonderful bending pass that Son controlled on his chest before smacking a shot beyond McCarthy. It was the first time in senior football he had scored four.
Kane then finally got the goal he deserved, tapping home after Lo Celso had carved up another opening. Ings’s penalty, awarded after another Var intervention, provided the flattest of late consolations.
Much as Kane and Son were the headline act, a note should be made of the part played by Mourinho. His decision to replace Ndombele with Lo Celso at half-time was significant. Combining well with Harry Winks, Lo Celso’s buzz and energy brought much-needed thrust to the Spurs midfield. They looked a side transformed. And that is before Bale even pulls on the white shirt.
Harry Kane drifts left and hits a first-time pass to Son Heung-min, who finishes
Kane collects possession with his back to goal and plays in Son, cutting inside