Harry Kane scored four times as Tottenham produced another superb performance to sweep aside Leicester City.
Though Chelsea ended their Premier League title hopes last week, there was no let-up from Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who won for the 25th time in the league this season.
Kane helped himself to two predatory goals from close range before rattling in twice from 20 yards in the last few minutes to move to 26 league goals for the campaign – two clear of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
Son Heung-min also scored fine goals either side of half-time, volleying in Dele Alli’s masterful pass, and bending in from 25 yards after a swift counter-attack.
Leicester, who are yet to make a decision on manager Craig Shakespeare’s future, played their part in an entertaining game.
Ben Chilwell momentarily sparked hopes of a fightback by making it 2-1, but the Foxes ultimately had no answer to this in-form Tottenham side, who recorded their biggest away win in the Premier League.
Brilliant Spurs bring ‘dead rubber’ to life
This, the 13th Premier League matchday in 18 May days, was effectively another dead rubber. But, while the league has failed to deliver the close title race the television schedulers were hoping for, no blame can be attached to Tottenham.
Spurs have won 12 of their past 13 league games and have been kept at bay only by the remarkable resilience of Chelsea, who ensured it has been a case of ‘nearly’ for Pochettino and his players for the second season in a row.
Third last season despite being Leicester’s closest challengers for most of the campaign – or, as the home fans enjoyed chanting in the opening stages, “third in a two-horse race” – Spurs have gone one better this time. Much better, in fact.
This dominant win took them past Leicester’s title-winning haul of 81 points, and they have enough on the board to have won the Premier League on eight previous occasions – with a game still to come.
Son’s superb strikes mean that – for the first time in the club’s history – they have three players who have scored 20 goals in a season, and took them beyond 75 league goals for the first time since 1984-85.
Add in the division’s meanest defence – Hugo Lloris’ mistake for Chilwell’s goal notwithstanding – and it is no surprise Pochettino has committed his future to the club.
Do Spurs have enough?
As White Hart Lane is dismantled and rebuilt, Spurs’ summer seems likely to be flavoured by reports and fears of the team going the same way.
Right-back Kyle Walker – again left out, albeit this time with an ankle problem – has long been linked with a move, and Pochettino admitted this week the club may struggle to compete with clubs offering huge salaries this summer.
That may have sounded alarm bells for supporters, but the good news for them is it would surely take record numbers to prise away either of the side’s crown jewels.
Kane and Alli have scored 43 Premier League goals between them this season and were outstanding again, along with Son, in a dynamic attacking display.
Those three players alone had 19 efforts on goal, while Alli’s chipped assist for Son’s first goal was further evidence of his growing influence and inventiveness.
Kane, who tapped in Son’s cross to open the scoring, added a close-range header then twice thrashed past Kasper Schmeichel from the edge of the area, could become the first man since Robin van Persie to win the golden boot in successive seasons.
There is no doubt Spurs have the quality to be champions. If they can repeat their home form while on ‘holiday’ at Wembley, perhaps the wait for a league title will end after 57 years.
Stage set for Shakespeare’s second act?
Shakespeare said this week he expects to find out if he will remain in charge of the Foxes “within days”.
He has certainly made a strong case to be retained, but his side’s second-half capitulation must be a disappointment, particularly as a comeback briefly looked possible when Chilwell scored his first career goal, prodding in after Jamie Vardy had gone around an out-of-position Lloris.
A second big decision of the season now looms for the Leicester hierarchy, who were widely criticised for sacking Claudio Ranieri in February, just months after he delivered the title.
They must surely consider themselves vindicated, despite such a heavy defeat. The Foxes were one point above the relegation zone when Shakespeare took over with 13 matches left but survived easily thanks to seven wins in Shakespeare’s 12 league games.
In fact, had the season begun when he took over, Leicester would once again be dreaming of Europe.
Man of the match – Harry Kane
Kane up there with the greats
- Kane is the fifth player in Premier League history to score 25+ goals in successive seasons (Robbie Fowler, Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer and Robin van Persie are the others).
- Kane has now scored more club goals against Leicester than any other side (10).
- Kane is the fifth different player to score three or more hat-tricks in a Premier League season.
- Tottenham now have three players with 20 or more goals in all competitions this season (Kane, Alli & Son); more than any other club in the Premier League or Football League.
- This is the joint-heaviest defeat in Premier League history for a reigning champion (also Manchester United’s 6-1 loss to Manchester City in October 2011).
- Leicester have now lost 18 league games this season, the most by a reigning top-flight champion since Ipswich Town in 1962-1963 (19)
- Leicester had let in two goals in their previous five home games under Shakespeare.
Shakespeare has one final home game to impress as Leicester host Bournemouth, while Tottenham wrap up their campaign at relegated Hull.