It was a Harry Kane hat trick that was needed to finally brush aside Slovenian side NS Mura by five goals to one in the Europa Conference League.
After three defeats in the Premier League and conceding nine goals, Nuno Espírito Santo was already under pressure ahead of this group tie against Slovenian side Mura at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Thursday, September 30 and he made nine changes to the side that were brushed aside with ease by Arsenal on Sunday, September 26.
Harry Kane was dropped to the bench with youngster Dane Scarlett starting up front and Dele Alli was made captain with a point to prove after his performance in the derby saw him withdrawn after the first 45 minutes.
Harry Kane Hat Trick Needed to Beat NS Mura
First Half Stroll as Joe Rodon, Bryan Gil and Dane Scarlett Catch the Eye
Against an opposition that only came into existence 12 years ago even a much-changed Tottenham side would be expected to have a less than taxing evening and two goals in the first ten minutes set them up well. Dele Alli won and converted a penalty four minutes in having been brought down by the goalkeeper before Giovani Lo Celso fired home into the top corner with a sweet left-footed strike.
Dane Scarlett showed some neat touches and turns and it is easy to see why there is much optimism about the future of the 17-year-old striker. Bryan Gil was also lively and it may be that these are two players that Spurs need to build their future around rather than relying on tried and tested players who keep letting managers and the club down.
Alli did show touches of the class he has but was still too often caught in possession and looks a shadow of the player he was once thought to be. His England career seems unlikely to take off again and he may be a player that needs to find a fresh start and re-ignite what was once going to be a glittering career and has since hit the buffers at some pace.
Joe Rodon looked composed in defence and was good on the ball as well as happy to move forward with it, something that earned him plaudits at former club Swansea City, but he needs games to build consistency. It is hard to argue that he is not better than either of Eric Dier or Davinson Sanchez and surely must start in the Premier League against Aston Villa on Sunday, October 3.
Kane and Son Change Tempo to Ease Spurs Past Slovenian Champions
Tottenham’s lethargy was punished in the 52nd minute when they failed to deal with a corner and the ball fell on the edge of the box to Ziga Kous who hit a sublime volley that Pierluigi Gollini stood no chance of keeping out of the net. It was the wake-up call that Spurs and Nuno Espírito Santo needed and just before the hour mark, Espírito Santo made a triple substitution introducing Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura, and the impetus of the game changed. Suddenly there was more urgency to the play, the passing was more incisive and it was ultimately a change that ensured Spurs eased through to three points with Kane grabbing three and his second reminding fans of the superb partnership Kane and Son had showcased so often last season but have as yet not found in the Premier League.
Tottenham Quality Shines but Questions Persist
Tottenham should not have needed to use their big guns for 30 minutes to ensure a win against Mura and it was further evidence that not all players are ready to fight for their place in the side. Matt Doherty did little to convince and Alli was one of the players taken off. Despite his goal, he was lacking in pace and allowed a couple of passes to go out of play, his all-round game seems to have totally deserted him and it is sad to see him struggle so much. As he left the pitch he looked bemused and dejected.
Harry Kane Hat Trick Needed for Win – Goals Can Kick Start His Season
Whether the summer transfer speculation over a move to Manchester City has affected Kane only he really knows but his start in the Premier League has been well below his standards. In the Conference League, he now has five goals and despite the lowly opposition he, at last, showed the clinical firepower that Spurs have been missing thus far.
Tottenham now face Aston Villa next in the league and Espírito Santo has some selection headaches after this win. Of the nine players that came in to start the game against Mura, only Bryan Gil, Joe Rodon, Dane Scarlett in patches and Oliver Skipp really caught the eye.
Tottenham were dismal in their North London derby defeat and it will be a tough few days for the manager to decide who is ready to start and get Spurs back to winning ways in the league.
This was a case of job done but the real test of character comes against Aston Villa where a win and a strong performance will be needed to take the pressure off the shoulders of the former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager.
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