Harry Kane didn't just break the goals record for the calendar year, he left his rivals trailing in his wake after his eighth hat-trick of 2017 helped Tottenham thump sorry Southampton.
Kane took 22 minutes to break Alan Shearer's 22-year record when he opened the scoring. Before long Lionel Messi's goal haul in Europe had been eclipsed as he ended the year with another one for good measure to end on 56 goals.
No wonder the striker does not want it to end. Given Kane is still just 24, few will be surprised if he goes on to beat Shearer’s all-time record. Dele Alli and Son Heung-min also scored, but this was Kane's day.
All eyes might have been on Kane but it was the absence of a Southampton player which raised eyebrows. Virgil van Dijk, for the second successive game, was a notable absentee.
The Dutchman looks certain to be on his way next month but, without him, his team-mates would be tested by a free-scoring Spurs side.
Saints were almost undone as early as the fifth minute. Southampton were guilty of losing possession and although Kane's movement outfoxed his marker, the striker could only fire into the side-netting after good work from Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham's pressing game was causing the visitors' downfall as another break ended with Eric Dier's 25-yard shot forcing Fraser Forster to palm the ball out to safety.
It was inevitable the breakthrough would come, and of course it would be that man Kane.
Danny Rose was tripped on the edge of Southampton's box and Eriksen's wicked free-kick saw Kane head home from close-range for the record-breaking feat in the 22nd minute. Kane was mobbed by his team-mates and the celebrations said it all.
Before long Shearer had even tweeted his congratulations to Kane. Those celebrations, however, threatened to be cut short within a minute. Sofiane Boufal's shot was pushed away by Hugo Lloris but the Frenchman misjudged Rose's cushioned header back.
The Tottenham goalkeeper was saved by the post as the ball stayed out and as comical own goal was narrowly averted.
Tottenham haven't lost a league game after scoring first since November 2016 and, given Southampton's struggles in front of goal, you wouldn't bet against that record changing once Kane had extended the home side's lead in the 38th minute.
It was all too easy as Spurs manipulated the ball before Alli sent Son scampering through and his cross was diverted home by Kane. This game had a touch of inevitability about it although Shane Long threatened to change the context of the game within a minute of the resumption.
The Irishman burst through but could not get the purchase on the shot required. The same could not be said for team-mate Mario Lemina, who rattled the crossbar moments later.
Alli, though would ensure there would be no way back, in the 49th minute. Alli's form has been in question but he showed quick feet before curling past Forster.
Then it was the turn of Son to get himself on the scoresheet, collecting Alli's perfectly weighed pass to fire beyond Forster after another quick counter-attack.
The Southampton supporters let their feelings known, with under-pressure manager Mauricio Pellegrino facing calls for his head. That would have only have intensified had Kane not volleyed Rose's pass inches past the post.
Tottenham were coasting and sloppy defending led to Southampton scoring through Boufal in the 64th minute. Serge Aurier was guilty and Lloris should have done better as Boufal's shot squirmed in.
Normal service was resumed three minutes when Kane collected Alli's pass to chip home for the best of the lot. There was still time for Southampton substitute Dusan Tadic to have the final say in the 82nd minute, but it was a mere consolation on a day dominated by that man Kane.
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier Dembele (Sissoko 53); Alli (Winks 84), Eriksen, Son (Lamela 75); Kane.
Subs not used: Vorm, Trippier, Llorente, Davies
Southampton (3-1-5-1): Forster; Stephens, Yoshida, Hoedt; Romeu; Redmond (Tadic 63), Hojberg, Lemina (Gabbiadini 63), Boufal, Targett (McQueen 76); Long
Subs not used: McCarthy, Davis, Ward-Prowse, Pied
Referee: Graham Scott
What they said...
Mauricio Pochettino: “I'm very pleased. I would like to congratulate Harry Kane, a massive achievement and well deserved. Also so happy because it’s an amazing thing to celebrate. Pleased for the three points, important game. We dominated the first half and played so well. At 4-0 we conceded some action and dropped a little bit in focus. Maybe it could have finished 7-4. It was a nice game for everyone to watch but for a manager it was tough, anything can happen.
“But I’m pleased to finish the year in this way and look forward to the next year and it was good to finish in this way at Wembley.”
On Harry Kane...
“Both achievements are massive. To break the Premier Legaue record set by Alan Shearer and then if you see the last seven or eight or nine years always Messi and Cristiano and today it’s Harry, a player from Tottenham, a massive achievement and we feel it’s our achievement, something we share with his team-mates and the club.
“At 24 to score these goals, not only is he a massive talent, how he is as a person and a professional, it’s amazing to work with him.
“For me he is world class. Of course Messi and Cristiano are different. Today, one striker in the world, a specific position, who is better than him? He’s one of the best. It’s difficult to say he’s the best but he’s shown to everyone he’s one of the best.
On Kane destiny...
“When we arrived here we fought a lot. We pushed everyone a lot to provide them with better tools to fight for one position in the first team. But when you start to work and discover his potential only you want to help him. It’s an amazing story for us, as a coaching staff, when you look at him play, not only feel happy, so proud of all this he has achieved. It’s double happiness because he’s a player you trust and after all that he is today, he deserves because he is professional and takes care of himself and he scores goals.”
Can Kane get better...
“That is the massive point for everyone and for him. Because better maybe a very small step of improvement but when you are at this level you need to fight with all your determination to keep at this level. To do this you need to work hard, more than before, be more professional and more focused. If you achieve something and you say if I need to run 10 metres but I will run only nine, you will cheat yourself, and that is a massive problem. The most important thing is to keep the same mentality. The secret is to work hard every day. You cannot to say no for one day. That is the secret of the big players like Harry, Ronaldo and Messi and company. You cannot afford not to work every day.”
On Dele Alli...
“Happy he scored and helped the team but we expect more and we will push him to be better. It’s true he’s doing better but he can do better. He scored, assisted, his participation in the game with and without the ball improved a lot and it’s easy to demonstrate he’s been much better in the last few games.”
Mauricio Pellegrino: “Against this side, we made a lot of mistakes that we cannot. In the second half we reacted well, created chances to be in the game but after the third it was difficult to bounce back. At least we showed another face. I know it’s difficult to digest, five goals, up and down, at least we showed a reaction and aggression we should have showed from the start. We cannot play too easy like we did in the first 30 minutes.
“We can play three centre backs but I decided to play like this with Jack and Matt as full-backs. We preferred more people in the middle, play a bit higher. They didn’t need too many chances to convert. We paid the price.
“The early goal was a smash for our players. Second half we had chances to be in the game but we couldn’t. In the first possibility they scored a third. It was difficult for us. Our goals came a little bit late.”
On fans booing...
“The fans have the same feeling we have. Everybody comes to try to see this team giving everything, trying to win points and games. Sometimes the defeat and bad moment is part of our life. people was to see a reaction, the spirit of aggression, fighting for every ball. We did in the second half but need to show from beginning.
On Virgil van Dijk...
“I decided its best for the team. Around Virgil there is a lot speculation.
“Tactical reason. The manager decides what is the best. We win, draw and lose, with and without Virgil. In this squad I have a lot of players that can play. We are used to changes. We can’t use this performance as an excuse.
“We have to wait until Jan. I can’t control the market. We’ll see what happens.
“He’s part of our club and he’s an important player for us but we’ll see what happens.”
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