Clinical Kane finishes off Foxes
England striker scores twice as Spurs win their final home game of the season against Leicester 3-0 to edge closer to Europa League
19 July, 2020 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
TOTTENHAM 3 (Son 7, Kane 37, 40)
THIS week, a statistic did the rounds that showed only Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool have won more points than Spurs since Jose Mourinho took over in November.
It sounded surprising, considering the flak he has caught from fans over the manner his side have been playing.
But are things now settling? Are the players getting to grips with his project?
Judging by today’s performance against Leicester, coming on the back of a victory in the north London derby, and a solid win away at Newcastle, Mourinho appears to have recognised the teams strengths and weaknesses and knows how to accentuate one and minimise the other.
The Spurs boss has reverted to a four-four-two, with Harry Kane supported by Heung-Min Son up top.
The enigma that is Moussa Sissoko has been moved from the centre and out to the right to give Serge Aurier the help he needs defensively – and allow Aurier, who is a better crosser of the ball, to get forward on the over lap.
Under previous manager Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham played a high press, hunting down the opposition in packs to win the ball back as quickly as they could.
Mourinho’s team instead subscribes to the mantra: “if you are not in possession, get into position”.
It is more pragmatic and sometimes lacks tempo, but it is clear now what Mourinho wants to do – and to understand why, take your mind back to 2016 when today’s visitors, Leicester, won the league.
Spurs were magnificent for about a year, the best in the country, but unluckily, their good form spanned two seasons instead of being squeezed in to one.
They went to West Ham on a Wednesday night in early March. A win would take them top. Instead, the Hammers put in a cup final performance and Spurs tried to match them in a war of attrition instead of playing their own game.
That night they conceded after seven minutes, and lacked the nous to find an equaliser. A partisan crowd roared every lump from the West Ham, and the freezing rain felt apt for such a miserable night.
But it was just what Spurs do – they could go top… then they don’t. They get to a semi-final and bottle it.
When they did get to the Champions League final, they conceded a penalty one minute in and never get into their stride.
On the same day Mourinho’s Spurs record to date was compared to others, a leaked team talk of him telling the squad they were a nice bunch of guys, but on the pitch, they needed to be, shall we say more aggressive.
It’s exactly what they didn’t do that night at West Ham, and countless other times when they were on the verge of something.
His speech to the players shows Mourinho knows it – but he could have no complaints today.
Spurs went a goal up in fortunate circumstances after six minutes when Son cut inside after being set free by a clever arching ball from Kane. His shot took a wicked deflection and left Kasper Schmeichel wrong-footed.
Leicester enjoyed some possession but couldn’t find a way through – they went closest on 25 but Hugo Lloris pulled off a world class save to his left.
Spurs soaked it up and then increased their advantage on 37 minutes. The tenacity of Gio Lo Celso and Son lead to a break from a Foxes corner. Lucas Moura burst left as Son and Kane dragged defenders to the right. The Brazilian then played Kane in behind and the England striker finished on the angle.
Three minutes later Kane bagged his second in spectacular fashion. Forced wide on the left, he dropped a shoulder, went inside his marker and curled one in to the far corner with power and precision.
Spurs shut down the second half in a manner that Mourinho watchers will recognise, and that Tottenham fans aren’t used to – seeing out a solid win to end the home campaign with no scares.
Welcome to Mourinho’s new, pragmatic Tottenham.
Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Winks (Skipp, 90), Sissoko, Lo Celso (Lamela, 76), Lucas (Bergwijn, 76), Son (Jedson, 88), Kane.
Substitutes not used: Gazzaniga, Tanganga, Vertonghen, Foyth, Sessegnon, Skipp.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Evans, Morgan, Bennett (Gray, 45), Justin, Tielemans (Praet, 69) Ndidi (Mendy, 69) Thomas, Barnes (Hirst, 82) Pérez (Iheanacho, 58) Vardy
Substitutes not used: Ward, Johnson,, Choudhury, James.