EARNING HIS SPURS
Harry Kane breaks his August duck in win over Fulham
HARRY Kane broke his August duck in the Premier League and there were echoes of England’s World Cup summer as Tottenham overcame a committed effort from new boys Fulham at Wembley.
A goal late in the first half from Lucas Moura, his first in the league for Spurs, was cancelled out by Aleksandar Mitrovic early in the second half. But a strong response from the hosts saw first Kieran Trippier, in a replay of his semi-final contribution in Russia, and then Golden Boot winner Kane score to give Mauricio Pochettino an important win.
The home side recalled both Toby Alderweireld and Trippier to their starting XI. Spurs set up in a Gareth South- gate-esque 3-3-2-2, with Moura joining Kane up front. It was no exaggeration to say that Trippier, stationed high up the pitch as he was in Russia, made the difference for his side.
Time and again Spurs got in on that side, only for the final ball to be cut out by Fulham’s centre-halves. Kane might have had a penalty after a challenge from Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Christian Eriksen should have finished off a sweeping move in the 23rd minute.
Fulham were largely on the back foot but they remained a threat. The visitors welcomed three debutants, including the £20m midfielders Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Jean Michaël Seri. They also recalled one of their Championship cult heroes, Aboubakar Kamara and it was the man they call AK47 (that’s his squad number) who was the biggest threat, exploiting the space left by Trippier and teeing up Tom Cairney on the half-hour for a low whipped shot that forced a decent save from Hugo Lloris.
Spurs finally earned a reward just as half-time approached. Again Trippier was involved, chipping a ball over Joe Bryan to find Eriksen. The Dane’s cross was cleared once again, but this time the ball only reached the edge of the box before Moura whipped it back inside the far post with his left foot.
Fulham emerged the hungrier side after half-time. Again they focused their play down the left and enjoyed a lot of possession. Kamara again made a telling touch in the 48th minute, playing in Mitrovic, who saw his low shot bounce straight off Lloris’s right hand post.
Three minutes later and the Serb had opened his Premier League account for Fulham. The move began with Bryan, advancing into that gaping space on the left and bending an inch-perfect cross beyond the Spurs back three. The ball reached the back post and Ryan Sessegnon, but instead of shooting the teenager calmly laid the ball back across the box to Mitrovic who dived to head the ball home.
Almost immediately Mauricio Pochettino brought Mousa Dembélé on for Davinson Sánchez and switched back to a back four. The home side slowly began to regain their momentum and, crucially, get Trippier on the ball. His cross was punched out by Fulham’s goalkeeper Fabri in the 65th minute, but only as far as Dele Alli whose volley was cleared off the line in a moment of desperate Fulham defending. Seven minutes later Trippier whipped a cross low to Kane, whose powerful volley crashed off the bar.
Fulham were beginning to struggle and Spurs would soon take advantage. Some vintage Kane and Alli interplay earned Spurs a free-kick 25 yards out. Up stepped Trippier and the crowd held its breath. They were right to. Just as in the Luzhniki Stadium in Russia last month, Trippier struck the ball superbly, this time swerving to Fabri’s right-hand post and leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Spurs had their heads up now and their chests out. Érik Lamela came on and his first contribution was to slalom through the heart of the Fulham defence in the 78th minute. He poked a pass to Kane inside the box and the captain took a touch, dragged it inside Calum Chambers, who had stuck with the England captain assiduously all match, and finished low inside the far post for his opening goal of the campaign.
Harry Kane celebrates with his team-mate Christian Eriksen after scoring Tottenham’s thrid goal at Wembley yesterday.