Kane returns to help Spurs back to winning ways against doomed-looking Baggies
Tottenham Hotspur (0) 2 (Kane 54, Son 58)
West Brom (0) 0
Harry Kane made a welcome early return from his ankle injuries to inspire Spurs to a much-needed victory over struggling West Brom.
The England striker’s mere presence was enough to lift the spirits after a run of three defeats and after going close to unlocking a hard-working Baggies’ defence in the first half, he netted in typical style – side-footing into the far corner after being found in the inside-left channel by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Four minutes later, and Son Heung-Min finished off a breakaway, led by Lucas Moura, to fire across keeper Sam Johnstone, although the keeper did get a touch as it flew past him.
Kane joins Bobby Smith in second place on the all-time list of scorers at Spurs with 208 in 317 appearances.
Once again, however, there was no sign of another player who might be classed as one of the club’s all-time greats. Gareth Bale stayed on the bench, with Dane Scarlett being preferred as a late sub. It’s a case of no golf courses and no football for the mysteriously sidelined Welshman.
This was a gimmie of a game Spurs could ill-afford to squander.
Having lost those three in a row – two at home – anything less than three points would have been seen as a disaster in terms of this season’s league ambitions.
Spurs had drifted down to ninth in the table after the latest setbacks – six points adrift of fourth placed Liverpool and five behind West Ham, who are fifth.
Jose Mourinho was already in unknown territory in experiencing two home league defeats in succession for the first time in his lengthy and illustrious managerial career.
Ailing Albion had to be treated as the cannon-fodder they have become, even with the arrival of firefighter Sam Allardyce.
Tottenham’s likely dominance was evident from the outset. Erik Lamela curled just over the bar from the fringes of the D after good work from Serge Aurier, and Kane came even closer with a left-foot shot that rippled the roof of the net.
Kane had two more near-misses. A deflected pass from Tanguy Ndombele found him criminally unmarked inside the area not long after, but his effort this time was scuffed and bobbled harmlessly wide. Then there was another effort drilled at Johnstone after a typical turn to work a yard of space.
It also needed a stretching one-handed save from Johnstone to keep out a close-range Aurier header at the far post before the first-half was out.
Albion rarely threatened, but Hugo Lloris had to get down sharply to stop an Mbaye Diagne header from opening the scoring just before the break – the striker having been picked out by Robert Snodgrass’ flighted delivery from the right. Apart from a disallowed effort in the second half, Albion seldom threatened after that.
The ever-reliable Kane-Son combination almost opened up the Baggies at the start of the second half – with Kane supplying a sumptuously inviting pass for the South Korean in the inside-left channel. Johnstone’s left peg blocked the goalbound strike.
But it merely delayed what had long seemed inevitable, and Kane soon claimed his 20th goal of the season and Son his 17th.
It was all far from remarkable but always comfortable, and the hope for Mourinho now is that it will re-energise his troops in the battle to stay in touch with the top four.
Spurs: Lloris – Aurier (Doherty 68), Sanchez, Alderweireld, Davies – Hojbjerg, Ndombele – Lucas, Lamela (Bergwijn 74), Son (Scarlett 90) – Kane. Subs not used: Bale, Hart, Rodon, Dier, Sissoko, Vinicius
Albion: Johnstone – Peltier, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend – Sawyers (Yokuslu 78) – Snodgrass (Pereira 80), Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Grant (Phillips 68) - Diagne. Subs not used: Furlong, Robson-Kanu, Robinson, Livermore, Button, O’Shea