Belfast Telegraph

Tottenham's history boy Harry Kane is hailed as world's top striker

Tottenham 5 Southampton 2

By Ed Elliott

Mauricio Pochettino hailed "world-class" Harry Kane after the striker smashed the Premier League record for goals in a calendar year with a match-winning hat-trick.

Kane needed just one strike to surpass Alan Shearer's 22-year-old record of 36 goals but he broke it in style with a superb Wembley treble in the 5-2 demolition of Southampton.

The England international, who has made history in just 36 appearances compared to Shearer's 42 for Blackburn Rovers in 1995, put Spurs into a two goal half-time lead with a close-range header and a simple tap-in before completing his second hat-trick in as many ameswith a dinked finish over Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster for his side's fifth.

Kane's third goal also moved him ahead of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for most goals for club and country by any player in Europe's major leagues in 2017, delighting Pochettino.

"I want to congratulate Harry Kane, it's a massive achievement for him, well deserved," said the Argentinian coach. "And we are all so happy because it's an amazing thing to celebrate.

"For me, he's world-class. I think the (No.1) striker in the world, the specific position, who's better than him?"

Kane said it was a "great feeling" to break Shearer's record.

"It was hard not to think about it going into the game," he said. "As always, I wanted to win the game first and foremost, but of course I wanted to score. To get that goal early on and get that record was a great feeling and I could enjoy the rest of the game."

After Spurs controlled the first half, the game became more end-to-end after the restart.

Dele Alli and Son Heung-min each struck to make it 4-0 to Spurs, while Saints pulled goals back through Sofiane Boufal and substitute Dusan Tadic.

Pochettino conceded the spectacle was good for neutral spectators but said he would have preferred his team to be tighter.

"The game was open, it was 5-2 but maybe (it could have) finished 7-4," he said. "It was a very nice game for everyone to watch but, for a manager, it was a little bit tough because when it's so open, everything can happen.

"But I am so pleased to finish the year in this way and I'm looking forward to next year."

As good as Spurs were offensively, it was a poor performance from the visitors as their winless run stretched to seven top-flight matches.

Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino, who left star defender Virgil van Dijk out of his squad for the second successive match, faced chants of, 'You're getting sacked in the morning' from sections of the sold-out away end.

Pellegrino insisted the decision to once again omit Van Dijk was tactical and said he did not know whether the wantaway Holland centre-back will be leaving in January amid interest from leaders Manchester City.

"It's the best for the team. I know around Virgil there will be a lot of speculation but this is my decision," Pellegrino said. "It's for tactical reasons. The manager decides what is best for every single game. I have a lot of players who can play.

"He's part of our club, and we know that Virgil is an important player for us, but we'll see what happens in the future."

Tottenham: Lloris, Aurier, Sánchez, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier, Dembélé (Sissoko, 54 mins), Eriksen, Alli (Winks, 84 mins), Son Heung-min (Lamela, 76 mins), Kane. Subs not used: Trippier, Vorm, Llorente, Davies.

Southampton: Forster, Stephens, Yoshida, Hoedt, Targett (McQueen, 77 mins), Romeu, Boufal, Højbjerg, Lemina (Gabbiadini, 63 mins), Redmond (Tadic, 63 mins), Long. Subs not used: Davis, McCarthy, Ward-Prowse, Pied.

Man of the match: Harry Kane

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Graham Scott

Belfast Telegraph

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