Harry Kane continued his electric form in front of goal by grabbing his third hat-trick in just nine games as Tottenham eased to a 4-0 victory over Stoke at White Hart Lane.
Spurs were at their swaggering best at White Hart Lane but Stoke contributed to their own demise with an abject display of defending, with Kane more than happy to cash in, before Dele Alli added a fourth on the stroke of half-time.
Kane’s strikes in the 14th, 32nd and 37th minutes mean the striker has now scored two hat-tricks in a week and three in nine appearances, coming on the heels of trebles against West Brom in the league and Fulham in the FA Cup last weekend.
Victory also sees Tottenham leapfrog Manchester City, reducing the gap behind leaders Chelsea back to 10 points while pulling four clear of Liverpool in fifth. Stoke, meanwhile, stay 10th.
For all Mauricio Pochettino’s flourishing young talents, this was a clear reminder that Kane remains the Argentinian’s most valuable asset.
The 23-year-old’s first goal was his 100th at club level and meant he has now hit the 20-goal mark for the third season in a row. He is on course to retain the Premier League’s Golden Boot, now tied at the top of the charts on 17 with Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
Alli’s goal also gave the midfielder a semblance of redemption after his midweek sending off against Gent as Spurs exited the Europa League.
Stoke had last taken to the field 15 days previous on February 11, in which time Tottenham had played three matches, including the last for 51 minutes with 10 men at Wembley three days before.
But time off can mean rest but also rustiness and Stoke were completely outplayed in the opening 45 minutes.
Christian Eriksen set the tone by nicking the ball through Ryan Shawcross’ legs and flicking it dangerously across the face of goal. No one was on the end of that chance but Spurs did not have to wait long for their lead.
After some patient build-up, an Alli run injected the change of pace required and when Shawcross failed to clear Eriksen’s flick, Kane had no hesitation in lashing the ball into the far corner.
Tottenham were rampant, as Walker’s audacious scissor-kick flew over, Jan Vertonghen crashed the crossbar with a right-foot drive and Kane sent a bending effort a whisker wide of the far post. Even Victor Wanyama was afforded a marauding run through Stoke’s scrambling midfield.
In between, the visitors could have equalised had Hugo Lloris not pulled off a superb point-blank save to deny Peter Crouch with his outstretched left foot, but it was a rare moment of discomfort for Spurs, who soon proceeded to score three in 13 minutes.
Kane grabbed his second as Eriksen’s chipped corner found him free on the edge of the box and the striker sent a fine left-footed shot into the bottom corner.
The England striker then completed his hat-trick five minutes later, albeit this time with a heavy dose of fortune. Eriksen shaped to shoot from a free-kick but instead rolled it right to Kane, whose stinging drive clipped Crouch’s foot in the wall and deflected past Lee Grant.
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Charlie Adam – still vilified in these parts for his unseemly tackle inflicted on Gareth Bale five years ago – was booked to rapturous cheers and if it felt like Tottenham’s perfect half could not get any better, they added a fourth.
Bruno Martins Indi was the latest perpetrator of some inept Stoke defending, allowing Kane to spin in behind down the right and tee up Alli at the back post to slam home.
It was not until after half-time that Pochettino had cause for concern as Toby Alderweireld hobbled off with what looked like an injury to his upper left leg to be replaced by Kevin Wimmer.
Kane was also in the wars, bundling into the post after heading Eriksen’s cross wide, although without visible damage, before Eric Dier’s close-range effort was well saved by Grant.
The remaining 20 minutes was largely a procession, the only surprise being that Pochettino chose not to give beleaguered striker Vincent Janssen, without a league goal since October, an outing from bench.
Kane was approaching five consecutive 90 minutes in 15 days, a mark of his own importance but also Janssen’s painful lack of form. When he eventually came off to a standing ovation in the 85th minute, it was Son Heung-min who replaced him.
In netting a hat-trick, Harry Kane went past 100 goals in his club career (102) – with 86 of those coming for Tottenham Hotspur.
It was Kane’s third hat-trick in 2017 in all competitions, on what was his 11th appearance for Spurs since the turn of the year (12 goals in total).
Kane’s hat-trick was his fourth in the Premier League for Spurs – no player in club history has registered more in the competition (Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe both have three).
Mark Hughes has won just one of his last 13 Premier League games against opponents who began the day occupying a top six position (D2 L10) – they have conceded at least three goals in nine of those 13 games.
The Stoke boss suffered his heaviest defeat in the top-flight since September 2016, where they lost by the exact same scoreline (4-0).
Spurs’ win marked the fourth occasion a team has registered a 4+ goal margin in three consecutive Premier League games against the same opponent.
Spurs scored four first-half goals in a Premier League match for the first time since February 2012 (v Newcastle).
Christian Eriksen became the first player to reach 10 assists in the Premier League this term.
Four of Eriksen’s assists in the Premier League this season have been for Harry Kane; no player has assisted one of his teammates more often in 2016/17.