Bournemouth 1 Tottenham Hotspur 5
Harry Kane has been waiting for an occasion such as this since the spring. An afternoon when everything clicks, with the supply line from Tottenham Hotspur's midfield irresistible and the opposition goalkeeper's error-prone performance utterly excruciating to behold. The striker had been industrious but luckless up to this point. The hat-trick plundered here was reward for months of endeavour and, potentially, a springboard to another prolific run.
Spurs revelled in their forward's haul though this was a reminder of their collective qualities. Bournemouth, a club understandably struggling to cope with a cruel injury list, were torn to shreds by Christian Eriksen's creativity and the visitors' general pizzazz in the final third with Artur Boruc, absent injured in the 5-1 drubbing at Manchester City last weekend but an experienced player upon whom this club might expect to rely, wilting amid the onslaught. His fine save to deny Clinton Njie late on was exceptional largely because so much of his display up to then had been slipshod. Eddie Howe's side had led but ended scorched.
This was a painful reminder of how brutal the Premier League can be. For a while the locals had basked in an unlikely ascendancy. Spurs had dawdled into the contest as if hungover from their Europa League exertions in Brussels on Thursday night, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose drawn under Charlie Daniels's centre after only 49 seconds with Matt Ritchie collecting on his right foot, calmly adjusting his body shape as the ball dropped and volleying the opening goal inside Hugo Lloris's near-post with his left.
Bournemouth swarmed forward throughout sensing vulnerability – Toby Alderweireld scrambled Marc Pugh's attempt from the line and Josh King struck a post before the break – yet the lead was always a deception. By the interval the contest still felt as good as over with Tottenham having capitalised on virtually every error offered up by their hosts.
Where Bournemouth were obliging, Spurs were clinical. Eriksen, operating ostensibly from the left, inevitably orchestrated the recovery. The Dane had too much time to ease a pass beyond Steve Cook for Kane to chase into the area, with Boruc charging out to upend the England forward and concede the most predictable of penalties. Kane stroked in a second club goal of the term from the spot, but Boruc's discomfort had only just begun.
Within minutes, Glenn Murray was penalised for a foul and Eriksen squared the free-kick across the area for Danny Rose to collect. The full back's effort thumped into Simon Francis and dropped kindly for Mousa Dembélé to collect and convert as home defenders, wrong-footed by the deflection, failed to recover.
Boruc did at least keep out Alderweireld’s near-post header from Eriksen’s free-kick but, on the half hour, he was disconcerted by Sylvain Distin’s presence and Kane’s innocuous cross squirmed from his hands. Érik Lamela could not believe his luck and duly tapped into the net.
An early riposte after half-time might have offered hope, but Bournemouth’s back line was always too prone for comfort with Eriksen revelling in space and time. He would strike the woodwork from distance himself before the end with a sumptuously curled attempt, and it was his whipped centre which was converted by Kane before the hour mark, the striker bursting easily beyond Distin to divert into the net as he stretched. His hat-trick came courtesy of another Boruc spill, the goalkeeper pushing away Alderweireld’s header from Eriksen’s corner, with this a striker making up for the frustration of his season to date.
Boruc was spared the concession of another penalty when he dropped a centre and tripped Kane as he lay sprawled on the turf, Roger East turning a blind eye almost as a kindness for a player enduring a personal nightmare. This team have now conceded 10 in their past two league games, those crippling and insanely cruel injuries having undermined their progress.
A year ago, seven of their starters here including Boruc had started at St Andrew’s where Bournemouth slaughtered Birmingham 8-0. These days, they are a team on the receiving end. “It’s f**king unbelievable, men against boys,” said the stadium announcer having inadvertently activated the public address system with a minute still to play. That was unwelcome, but felt accurate.