Lethal Harry Kane helps Tottenham break down dogged Wolves
England striker opens the scoring before Højbjerg secures three points for Spurs
Harry Kane opens the scoring for Tottenham against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/Getty/AFP
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Harry Kane moved a goal clear of Mohamed Salah in the golden boot race and, in doing so, helped Tottenham overtake West Ham to occupy sixth place. It is hard to believe the promise of another year in the Europa League would calm the uncertainty about Kane’s future but an ultimately straightforward victory makes them likely to avoid an even less palatable outcome.
Champions League qualification, which might settle nerves surrounding their centre-forward’s status more neatly than anything, remains on the table too but would require a improbably favourable set of results over the coming week. At least Kane’s 22nd top-flight strike of the campaign, which was assisted smartly by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, kept them in with a shout. Hojbjerg weighed in later with a goal of his own and Wolves, whose lack of quality and incentive were evident, rarely threatened to make the afternoon less comfortable.
The backdrop, devoid of supporters for hopefully the final time, was not all that had changed dramatically since Wolves won here in March 2020. Back then the away side leapfrogged Spurs and moved into the top six, inspired by Raúl Jiménez and Diogo Jota while Matt Doherty, on the home bench this time, set them on their way. This time Wolves’ season has tailed off into what Nuno Espírito Santo freely admits is a development project; for Spurs the fluctuations have been many and often painful but they did, for all the year’s frustrations, enter the final stretch with an abundance of potential conclusions available to them.
The prospect of a Europa League spot had, at least, been put in Spurs’ hands by the Hammers’ failure to win at Brighton. For much of the opening period they showed little propensity to choose their own adventure but, as half-time neared, their broad control of proceedings had begun to verge upon a monopoly. They were hardly carving Wolves apart but it did not come as a huge surprise when, following a spell of intense pressure, Kane scored with the half’s final meaningful action.
The goal was superbly created by a curling 40-yard pass from Hojbjerg, which sent Kane in behind a wonky Wolves backline. He delayed his shot as Rui Patrício confronted him but there was never any sense that he did not know exactly what he was doing: a dummy sent the keeper to ground and left Conor Coady, attempting a last-ditch tackle, sliding into thin air. The subsequent finish was simple and Tottenham had grasped at least one aspect of their destiny at exactly the right time.
If a fifth-minute shot from Kane, struck from 22 yards after Vitinha had conceded possession, had beaten Patrício instead of pinging back off his right post then Spurs might have had an opportunity to cut loose. Instead much of their early play was laboured, the highlight a deft nutmeg on Leander Dendoncker by the slick Dele Alli until they began to crank through the gears. That period before the opener saw Son Heung-min sting Patrício’s palms after a leaping header from Kane, while Coady was twice forced to hack away from in front of the goalline.
Wolves were tidy but largely punchless, a state of affairs that could have been predicted in advance. They did, however, threaten a couple of times via the same combination. Adama Traoré surged 70 yards up the pitch in the eighth minute before feeding Fábio Silva, whose effort deflected wide; an only marginally less impressive run on the half-hour saw him find Silva in space again for a drive that fizzed wide of the far upright.
Five minutes after the restart they should have equalised via an entirely different means when Roman Saïss, unmarked when running onto a teasing Vitinha delivery, mistimed his header and offered Hugo Lloris an easy save. The game was more open than at any previous point; Patrício tipped over from Sergio Reguilón and then excelled further in a remarkable double escape for Wolves.
Kane seemed certain to stretch his lead over Salah after Alli sent him through but Patrício tipped his daisycutter onto the far upright at full stretch. Alli, following up, drilled on to the opposite post and somehow Wolves were still in the game.
The visitors were not so lucky the next time a ball ran loose in their box. Reguilón showed laudable hunger to slide ahead of a dozy Ki-Jana Hoever on the left and accelerate a Spurs attack. Eventually Bale received possession via Son and shot from 18 yards; Patrício could only parry straight ahead and Hojbjerg snaffled his second goal of the campaign.
Silva missed a presentable chance to make a game of it shortly afterwards while Traoré, playing on a different level to most of his colleagues, then shot wide. Tottenham barely threatened again but they had already ensured the nerves will keep jangling over the next seven days. - Guardian