LONDON, March 20 – Harry Kane blew Bournemouth away as title-chasing Tottenham kept the pressure on Premier League leaders Leicester with a swaggering 3-0 victory on Sunday.
Kane took just 44 seconds to open the scoring at White Hart Lane and the Tottenham striker netted again 15 minutes later to effectively kill off Bournemouth before half-time.
Christian Eriksen added Tottenham’s third goal after the interval to keep his side firmly in the hunt for a first English title since 1961.
Mauricio Pochettino’s second-placed team are only five points behind Leicester and, with seven games remaining, they go into the international break as the most credible candidates to profit from any slips by the leaders in the closing weeks.
This was a high-class Tottenham display and Kane, who had scored twice to seal last weekend’s victory at Aston Villa, looks almost unstoppable at present.
Keeping the England star fit and in-form is the key to Tottenham’s bid for a first title since the glory days of Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay, and Pochettino seems well aware of that.
Leicester’s win at Crystal Palace on Saturday had left Tottenham with no margin for error but, crucially, Pochettino had rested Kane, Eriksen, Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker for Thursday’s Europa League defeat against Borussia Dortmund.
The Argentine’s gamble was vindicated when two of his refreshed stars combined to give Tottenham the lead before the sell-out crowd had even got comfortable in their seats.
After struggling in the opening weeks, Kane had kick-started his season with a hat-trick in Tottenham’s 5-1 win at Bournemouth in October and he took less than a minute to feast on the Cherries’ defence yet again.
Walker advanced unchecked down the right flank and whipped over a low cross that Kane met with a perfectly-timed run into the six-yard box, where he deftly guided the ball into the far corner.
It was Kane’s 22nd goal in his last 30 club appearances and took him to 20 Premier League goals for a second consecutive season.
– Sumptuous –
With their top-flight survival almost secured after three successive victories, Bournemouth had less motivation than their high-flying opponents and it showed as Tottenham tore through them again to double their advantage in the 16th minute.
Following a lengthy spell of probing possession, Dele Alli twisted the knife, playing a sumptuous pass to locate Kane’s intelligent run and the England striker’s predatory instincts did the rest as he fired a precise low drive past Artur Boruc from the edge of the penalty area.
Bournemouth’s choice of a lurid pink away kit looked like being their only inspired move of the afternoon as it camouflaged their defenders’ blushes after more sloppy play allowed Eriksen to time and space to shoot over when the Dane should have hit the target.
Pochettino’s team, quicker in thought and deed, were running rings around the visitors and Alli thought he’d added a third when he crashed home from close-range, only to see the effort disallowed as Kane had been caught offside in the build-up.
Tottenham’s relentless pressing must have had Eddie Howe’s players wishing they could jet off for their planned warm-weather training camp in Dubai at half-time rather than next week.
There was no let-up from the hosts at the start of the second half and a rapid counter saw Kane tee up Walker for a powerful strike that fizzed wide.
A third goal looked inevitable and it duly arrived in the 52nd minute.
Kane unleashed a 25-yard drive that Boruc should have held, but the Bournemouth goalkeeper instead parried it straight to Eriksen, who had the simple task of slotting into the empty net.
Alli and Ryan Mason wasted good chances to make it four, but jubilant chants of “Leicester City, we’re coming for you” were filling the north London air, and Tottenham fans have every reason to believe their team can do exactly that.