Kane double destroys Huddersfield
A strange and surreal somnolence swept over the last hour of this match. Tottenham Hotspur’s players knocked the ball around with an impudence verging on indifference. Huddersfield jogged without intent, quietly and listlessly serving out their notice. The fans basked in what was left of the breezy autumnal sunshine. An injury-time goal from Moussa Sissoko – yes, Moussa Sissoko – felt as shrill and abrupt as a phone ringing in church.
But Tottenham had earned their stroll in the park. They had earned their vaguely scruffy second half, an opportunity to preserve their limbs and ligaments ahead of an international break. Such was their reward for scorching the life out of the game in 25 stunning minutes. Huddersfield were mesmerised by Tottenham’s speed of thought, speed of pass and deftness of touch, chasing the game like kittens pawing at dangling threads.
Harry Kane will again steal the headlines for his two-goal burst and when he was substituted late on, both sets of fans got to their feet to applaud.
But really this was a story of collective Tottenham excellence, from the teak-tough three at the back to the shuffling, shimmying three at the front. Ben Davies, one of the Premier League’s most improved players in any position, had another terrific game on the left and was singled out for praise by Mauricio Pochettino afterwards. And from the moment Chris Lowe’s early error allowed Kane to pounce, there was a certainty and a conviction to Tottenham that Huddersfield never came close to tarnishing.
In a way, Huddersfield’s game-plan – pushing high up the pitch, trying to upset the rhythm of the Spurs back three – played right into their opponents’ hands. Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen simply gorged themselves on the wide-open space behind the defence, space so often denied them at Wembley. Tottenham prioritised forward momentum over retaining possession, and three early goals were the result.
The first, as ever, was the most important. It started with a clearance, an intelligent header by Kieran Trippier that gave Kane something to chase.
Any sort of contact from Lowe would have averted danger. Instead, as the ball looped towards him at waist height, he swung a boot and failed to connect. Kane was in, and despite the tightening angle, never really looked like missing. “He’s just a oneseason wonder,” the Spurs fans crowed. “If you are as brave as we are, you cannot give goals away so easily,” an unimpressed David Wagner grumbled afterwards. It was the early blow Tottenham wanted – perhaps even needed – and all of a sudden, Huddersfield’s game-plan lay in ruins. If the first goal was the most important, then the second was the most impressive – a flurry of articulate touches and nudges, from Eriksen to Alli to Kane and back to Eriksen. Lowe made a tackle on Eriksen, but – and this is probably the moment at which he realised it was not going to be his day – the ball ricocheted straight into the path of the unmarked Davies, who scored. Pochettino pierced the air with a satisfied fist. It was going to be one of those afternoons.
After which, Huddersfield rather went to pieces. Jonas Lossl fluffed a goal-kick. Lowe barrelled up and down the left wing in abashed penance. The normally metronomic Aaron Mooy was as toothless as he is hairless, misplacing a succession of passes. And from an innocuous throw-in, Kane put the game firmly to sleep, shrugging off two markers with a diffident wobble of the shoulders, and curling in a delicious left-foot shot from 25 yards.
“It is so difficult to speak every three days about Harry Kane and find different words to describe him,” Pochettino said. “When we don’t have the ball, he is the first to run, fight, work hard for the team. It’s so lucky for us to have one player like him.”
Tottenham could probably have had more. Instead, they eased off, only occasionally hitting the high notes they were belting out in that opening period. Kane huffed and harried in search of a second consecutive hat-trick. More concerningly, Alli was booked for a frankly risible attempt to win a penalty in the second half, and received a tongue-lashing from Pochettino. “I didn’t see, so it’s difficult for me, but if it was like this, he needs to learn,” Pochettino said. “And he must learn, because this type of action doesn’t help him, doesn’t help the team and doesn’t help football. We talk about fair play, being honest, and he is learning. But there is still a little bit to learn.”
There was time for one final flourish. Son Heung-min carried the ball out of midfield and found the catapulting run of Davies. His cross was scruffily converted by substitute Sissoko, a goal that will do him the world of good. “He is completely different to last season,” Pochettino said. “He is confident, his selfbelief is different. I am happy for him.”
As for Huddersfield, this is the sort of thing that is going to happen to them from time to time. Tottenham were, in the words of Wagner, “a different class of opponent”, and Huddersfield will not be the last team slashed by their whirring blades. If they can stay focused, stay united and heed the lessons of this defeat, then this particular cloud may yet yield its silver lining.
Unstoppable: Harry Kane curls a delicious left-foot shot into the far corner from 25 yards for his second goal yesterday