Premier League: Tottenham 5 Southampton 2
PUBLISHED: 14:49 26 December 2017 | UPDATED: 14:49 26 December 2017
PA Wire/PA Images
Harry Kane smashed Alan Shearer's Premier League record for goals scored in a calendar year by hitting a hat-trick in Tottenham's mauling of Southampton.
Kane needed only one goal to pass the 36 scored by Shearer in 1995 but the Spurs striker banged in three at Wembley to finish 2017 on an astonishing 39 goals in 36 league matches.
Dele Alli and Heung-min Son helped put Southampton out of sight in the second half despite Sofiane Boufal pulling one back at 4-0 and substitute Dusan Tadic reducing the deficit late on.
But while five different scorers made for a frenetic, if undoubtedly one-sided contest, Kane was the star of the show from the moment he headed past Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the 22nd minute.
Shearer was quick to send his congratulations on Twitter, hailing his successor’s “magnificent 2017”, and it is noteworthy Kane has needed six fewer games to complete his tally than Shearer enjoyed 22 years ago. This was also Kane’s eighth hat-trick of the year, and sixth in the Premier League.
Away from Kane, there was also a match to be won and Mauricio Pochettino will be thrilled to have sustained recent momentum.
Tottenham have now won five out of their last six matches while Southampton are winless in seven and there were some sarcastic chants from the visiting fans here that will not have been lost on under-pressure manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose came in for Moussa Sissoko and Ben Davies while Pellegrino opted to replace the banned Charlie Austin with Shane Long, who remains without a goal since February. Virgil van Dijk was again absent from the Saints squad, with a January transfer now looking increasingly likely.
Tottenham’s early dominance did little to rouse a rather sleepy home crowd until Rose, with a large plaster strapped across his forehead, launched a barnstorming run down the left and won a foul on the edge of the box.
Christian Eriksen whipped in the free-kick and Kane, unchallenged by his marker Oriol Romeu, was allowed to nod home from point-blank range. He toasted his record by sliding to his knees in the corner.
The celebrations could have been short-lived when Rose almost lobbed Hugo Lloris with a header back to his goalkeeper but Lloris scrambled back to gather the ball off the post.
It seemed only a matter of time before Kane would be smiling again and when Son slid an inch-perfect pass across the box in the 39th minute, he had his second.
Southampton twice went close to pulling one back early in the second period as Long shot straight at Lloris after a wayward Jan Vertonghen pass and Mario Lemina clipped the crossbar with an effort from distance.
But Spurs’ complacency quickly wore off as Alli and Son added two more goals in as many minutes.
Alli capitalised on some more lax Romeu defending to bend the ball inside Forster’s far post before then turning provider, supplying Son to finish off a ruthless counter-attack.
Kane almost had his third only to volley wide from an excellent crossfield Rose pass and Southampton pulled one back when Serge Aurier made a mess of a headed clearance and Boufal drilled a low shot past Lloris at the near post.
Nothing could stop Kane though. Another counter-attack stretched the Saints defence as Alli fed Kane, who nonchalantly dinked the ball over Forster for his hat-trick.
Tadic added a late consolation but when the final whistle blew, there was only one man striding off with the match ball.