Harry Kane had history in his sights today at Turf Moor as Tottenham Hotspur played Burnley in a crucial Premier League match. Kane entered the match three goals shy of Alan Shearer’s record of 36 goals in a calendar year, and he equalized that tally today, scoring a hat trick as Spurs saw off the Clarets 3-0. The win shot Spurs up to fifth place in the table and was a dominating performance against the surprise side of the Premier League in the first half of the season.
The Christmas holiday schedule is in full swing, and with Spurs playing Southampton on Boxing Day, Mauricio Pochettino did some mild rotation. Davinson Sanchez returned to the side after serving his three match suspension, and Eric Dier was pushed into the center of midfield. Harry Winks missed the match day 18 with a slight ankle injury, so Moussa Sissoko started in his place. Serge Aurier and Ben Davies were the fullbacks. Son Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli all started behind Harry Kane, with Erik Lamela and Mousa Dembele on the bench.
It didn’t take long for the first half to get a little chippy, and the narrative completely centered around Dele Alli. Dele earned himself a very early booking in the fifth minute after a studs-up challenge on a Burnley player. The Burnley crowd were baying for red, but with both players lunging into the challenge, but match official Michael Oliver opted instead for a yellow.
Dele then cemented his position as the most hated Premier League player in Burnley after he was taken down by Kevin Long in the box, earning a penalty for Spurs. Harry Kane stepped to the spot and buried the chance, and Spurs led 1-0 after just seven minutes.
Spurs mostly bossed possession in the midfield, and it led to another chance for Kane in the 17th minute. Dele, who was subjected to boos from the home crowd the entire half, had a shot blocked that fell to Kane in the box. Kane rounded Burnley keeper Nick Pope, but his close-range effort hit the side netting.
Spurs nearly got a second on a great counterattack five minutes later. Dele spring an onrushing Moussa Sissoko with an incisive through ball into space, but the Frenchman had two attempts blocked by Pope, and the Clarets were able to scramble the ball away.
Burnley started to work their way into the game a bit more late in the half and nearly equalized on a Serge Aurier turnover 30 yards from goal. Stephen Defour tried to whip a cross to Chris Wood, but Hugo Lloris was there to smother the chance. Wood later picked up an injury and Sean Dyche was forced into a first half substitution, bringing on Ashley Barnes as his replacement.
Burnley looked a little more threatening just before halftime, but still managed no shots in the first half. It felt like there were more boos directed at Dele than cheers directed at any Burnley player, and Spurs took a deserved 1-0 lead at Turf Moor into halftime.
Mauricio Pochettino opted to make no changes at halftime.
It was mostly more of the same in the second half, with Spurs having the bulk of the ball and the majority of the chances, but Burnley trying to get stuck in and hit on the counter.
Spurs had numerous opportunities to score, starting just three minutes into the half. Eriksen fired a cross from along the line towards Kane at the near post, but Kane had the ball go off his shin and out for a goal kick.
One minute later, Son played Eriksen into the box after a poor ball from Pope, but Christian couldn’t catch the ball cleanly, and the Clarets were able to scramble the ball clear.
In the 56th minute, Aurier broke through the Burnley back line and fed Kane again. Harry found a wide open Son on a late run, but Sonny inexplicably blazed the ball over the bar.
Spurs had a couple more chances and it looked like it might be another frustrating afternoon of missed chances for Spurs and a nervy ending to the match. And then Harry Kane took over.
First, Moussa Sissoko sprung Kane with a lovely through ball from midfield. Kane beat the offside trap and fired past Pope to put Spurs up 2-0.
Nine minutes later, Ben Davies found Dele Alli, who set up Kane perfectly for him to score again, ensuring the Tottenham victory. It was Kane’s seventh hat trick of 2017 and put him in a tie with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah for top scoring honors with 15 goals this season.
Burnley thought they had pulled a goal back late in the game after Long appeared to head a corner past Hugo Lloris, but Oliver waved the goal off, judging that Long had jumped into Hugo and fouled him in the process.
Spurs made three substitutions in the second half: Son made way for Mousa Dembele in the 77th minute, Eric Dier got a well-deserved breather as Eric Lamela came on for him in the 80th minute, and Fernando Llorente spelled Dele in the 86th.
With the match well and truly won, Spurs took their foot off the gas and saw out the match. The final score was 3-0.
- This was a really, really good win for Spurs, and they dominated it pretty much from the beginning. That said, it looked like the Finishing Pixie had again abandoned Spurs for much of the game until Kane went HAM.
- The sequence that led to the first goal was the most Dele Alli sequence ever: lunging bad challenge that earned a yellow, only to follow up by earning kinda-sorta-softish penalty. (Neither were as egregious as what the home crowd made it out to be.)
- Dele was subsequently booed and targeted with hard challenges the entire rest of the match, and Burnley probably deserved more yellows than what they received, particularly Ben Mee.
- Props for Sissoko from me: I screamed at my TV after he missed on that breakaway, but it was a fine save from Pope and Moussa redeemed himself with that lovely through ball to set up Kane’s second. He did fine today.
- Boy, is it good to have Davinson Sanchez in the back line again.
- This was the first time Burnley had conceded more than one goal at home this season. Harry Kane is a god among mortals.
- Kane now has seven Premier League hat tricks, which ties him with Wayne Rooney. (IMPORTANT FACT: Didier Drogba has three.)
- Kane has one more chance to beat Shearer’s record: the Boxing Day match against Southampton at Wembley Stadium. Think he’s going to be up for that? I think he’ll be up for that.