Harry Kane’s Hat Trick Had Made Things Look Easy For Spurs Against Apoel
Harry Kane delivered a Champions League masterclass by hitting a hat-trick and leading Tottenham to a 3-0 demolition of Apoel Nicosia.
There are few superlatives left to describe Kane’s relentless goalscoring form but the striker broke new ground in Cyprus with his first treble in Europe’s premier competition.
A cool first-half finish set Spurs on their way before two in five minutes after the interval rounded off another stellar night for Kane, who trundled off to a standing ovation with 15 minutes left.
His ninth club hat-trick also puts Tottenham in a commanding position to qualify from Group H after Borussia Dortmund’s loss at home to Real Madrid leaves the German side six points adrift.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men head to the Santiago Bernabeu next month and they will hope to have a stronger representation too, given they arrived here with seven key players missing.
With Kane in this sort of mood, they will believe anything is possible, the 23-year-old’s record in 2017 now showing 34 goals in 30 Spurs appearances.
He is only the seventh English player to score a Champions League hat-trick after Andy Cole, Mike Newell, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Alan Shearer and Danny Welbeck.
There were fears Tottenham might struggle with Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele joining Erik Lamela, Danny Rose, Victor Wanyama on the sidelines, along with the suspended Jan Vertonghen and Dele Alli.
Pochettino’s solution was to push Ben Davies into the back three, where he has often played for Wales, while Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier took position out on the flanks and Harry Winks was handed his second start of the season in midfield.
Winks was excellent and his dynamic display will offer Pochettino encouragement should Dembele’s niggling foot injury continue to limit the Belgian’s playing time.
Apoel’s own talented playmaker Roland Sallai was deemed fit enough to start and there was also a place for holding midfielder Nuno Morais, once bought by Jose Mourinho for Chelsea.
The Cypriot side boast a surprisingly strong record at home, having previously lost only one of their last 11 European matches in front of their own fans, and they rattled the crossbar after 18 minutes when Igor de Camargo took advantage of an Aurier slip.
Tottenham lost their way as the half wore on and Apoel twice could have taken the lead, Carlao heading wide from a corner before Hugo Lloris kicked straight into Sallai and was relieved to see the ball cannon clear of his own post.
The hosts would soon rue their missed chances. One pass from Toby Alderweireld in the 39th minute split their defence open and Kane, played onside by Praxitelis Vouros on the far side, confidently slid home the finish.
Son Heung-min and Sallai both had sights at goal early in the second period and when Apoel got in down the left again, this time through the excellent Stathis Aloneftis, Pochettino decided Aurier’s night was up. The Ivorian came off for Fernando Llorente and the visitors reverted to four in defence.
Just as Apoel looked to be gaining momentum again, Spurs, and Kane, delivered two goals in the 62nd and 67th minutes to crush any hopes of a comeback.
First, Moussa Sissoko provided an excellent cut-back from the right for Kane to plant in the corner and then the striker turned playmaker too, sending a bending pass wide to Trippier before ghosting into the box and heading in the resulting cross.
Apoel’s belief was now extinguished and all that was left was for 20-year-old Anthony Georgiou, a Cypriot youth international, to make his debut off the bench late on. By then Kane was resting up for Huddersfield on Saturday.