Son Heung-min contributed to the rout here by scoring Tottenham’s other two goals. That amounted to six damaging blows to Craig Shakespeare’s prospects of landing the Leicester managerial job on a permanent basis. Ben Chilwell scored for the home team but that was no consolation to their caretaker manager. “There are no positives,” said Shakespeare. “We were totally second-best.”
Shakespeare should not be judged too harshly on this performance, as the main cause of this thrashing was Tottenham’s exceptional slickness – and their encouraging bloodlust. Mauricio Pochettino had demanded his team maintain their high standards despite the title being beyond them. They had faded at a similar stage last season once Leicester got beyond their reach so the Argentinian wanted to see evidence of a positive evolution since then. His wish was granted, and this time Leicester were left looking like a rabble.
“Our attitude and internal motivation was good,” said Pochettino. “We have been talking a lot about why we finished so badly last season. This type of performance shows that the team is improving and has learned a lot from last season. This is fantastic.”
Leicester made the better start but began to tremble as soon as Spurs bared their teeth. That was the beginning of a nightmare for Yohan Benalouane, in particular, as the centre-back was made to look ditzy by Spurs’ artful attackers. Especially Kane. The striker threatened to open the scoring a couple of times before he eventually did so in the 25th minute.
Toby Alderweireld exposed flat-footedness in Leicester’s rejigged defence by dropping a long pass over them from deep inside his own half. Christian Fuchs, a makeshift centre-back, failed to cut it out and Benalouane undermined the offside scheme. Son took advantage, scampering on to the ball before playing a square pass to Kane, who scored from close range.
Spurs began to run amok. They increased their lead 11 minutes later with a sumptuous goal, an intricate move culminating with Dele Alli scooping the ball over the head of Benalouane before Son swept a volley into the net from 10 yards.
At half-time Shakespeare had to find a way to stop the bleeding, at least. He introduced Islam Slimani for Shinji Okazaki and Leicester made a strong start to the second period. In the 59th minute their revolt gathered momentum when Chilwell scored with impressive composure. Hugo Lloris had rushed out of his box to intercept a pass to Jamie Vardy but Leicester kept possession and when the ball was played to Chilwell, the 20-year-old sidestepped a defender and stroked it into the net from 12 yards despite Eric Dier’s attempt to clear off the line.
Belief in a home comeback lasted four minutes. That is how long it took Spurs to re-establish their superiority. Alderweireld cantered down the right and floated a cross to the back post, where Victor Wanyama headed it back across to Kane, who nodded in from two yards. Eight minutes later Son struck again, ridiculing Wilfred Ndidi at the edge of the box before sweeping a low shot into the net. The uprising had been quashed with imperious style.
Kane was not finished. He had his eyes on a personal prize as well as an emphatic team triumph. He rifled in a low 20-yard shot to complete his hat-trick, then fired in his fourth in time added on. That was the first four-goal haul of his career and he admitted he was driven by his pursuit of Lukaku at the top of the scoring charts.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” he said. “I was looking to take it into the last game, but now I’m in the driving seat. I’m not resting on my laurels, and I’ll go to Hull [on Sunday] looking to get four more hopefully.TG