Harry Kane plunders hat-trick as Tottenham crush APOEL Nicosia
Champions League Group H, GSP Stadium - APOEL Nicosia 0 Tottenham 3 (Kane 39', 62', 67')
As if by magic, the wonderful finishing of the wonderful Harry Kane turned a poor Tottenham performance into a superb Tottenham victory. They sit second in Group H, behind Real Madrid on goal difference - and the two will now meet for a double-header.
Spurs actually controlled the early part of the game, but midway through the first half APOEL woke up and might have scored twice in quick succession, Igor de Camargo thrashing a shot against the bar and Carlao missing with a header. Seconds after that second chance, though, they were behind, Kane finishing expertly after he was fed by Toby Alderweireld’s excellent touch.
APOEL then started the second half well, only for Kane to kill them just after the hour with another smart finish - and no one could have been remotely surprised when, five minutes later, he glanced a delicious header into the far corner to complete his hat-trick.
That was more or less it with the serious action - APOEL were done, Spurs relaxed, and thanks to Harry Kane, a difficult night had, in just 29 minutes, morphed into a balmy evening stroll.
Spurs' high line will not work against everyone. They were missing Jan Vertonghen but that is no excuse for the space Tottenham afforded limited opponents. They don't really have the recovery pace to defend so high against good sides, and if they try it against Madrid they will find themselves in serious trouble.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) Transcendentally brilliant. His movement, first touch and finishing touch were of the highest order and the difference in the game. He is ridiculously good.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)Getty Images
APOEL: Waterman 6, Vouros 5, Rueda 5, Carlao 5, Rpberto Lago 5, Morais 6, Vinicius 6, Sallai 7, Zahid 6, De Camargo 6, Aloneftis 7. Subs: Makris 6, Farias 6, Alexandrou 6.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 5, Aurier 5, Alderweireld 6, Sanchez 6, Davies 6, Trippier 6, Dier 5, Sissoko 5, Winks 7, Son 6, Kane 10. Subs: Llorente 7, N'Koudou 6, Georgiou 6.
39’ - GOAL! APOEL 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Kane) - This is beautiful, Alderweireld picking Kane out with a lovely low pass from back to front, and while Vouros doesn't step up, Kane gathers it on the half-turn, cresses it into stride, and slides past the keeper inside the far post with the confidence of a master.
61’ - APOEL are coming, Aloneftis finding space down the left and bending a cross around Trippier, which skims off De Camargo's forehead - he's only six yards out too! APOEL then recycle the ball and cross again - this time it hits Trippier and bounces down to Lloris.
62’ - GOAL! APOEL 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur (Kane) - The difference! Sissoko gets away down the left and clips back to Kane, inside the D. There's still plenty to do, but again he transfers the ball perfectly into stride, then sweep-strokes a finish into the far corner with the keeper set to go the other way. What a player he is!
67’ - GOAL! APOEL 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur (Kane) - And there it is! Kane spreads wide, and you can see that Apoel have gone before Trippier even crosses. In it comes - it's a lovely ball - and Kane stoops to guide a delicious header into the far bottom corner. What a absolute superstar.
Harry Kane has scored 32 goals in 30 games for Spurs in 2017, along with six hat-tricks.
Harry Kane has scored 11 goals in the month of September.
Harry Kane (Tottenham)Getty Images