FA Cup fifth round
Fulham 0 Tottenham 3 (Kane 16, 51, 73)
Mauricio Pochettino revealed that some hard truths had come out over the past few days.
Mauricio Pochettino took no chances, while Harry Kane took his ruthlessly, a hat-trick from the England striker sending Tottenham through to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Having seen cup upsets aplenty this season, and gone close to humiliation by Wycombe Wanderers in the previous round, Pochettino could not afford to take risks at Fulham, who had beaten Hull City in the fourth round and Middlesbrough in the EFL Cup earlier this season.
He was especially keen to avoid three successive defeats for the first time at Tottenham, who lost 4-0 at Craven Cottage in the FA Cup six years ago, and Kane ensured victory was comfortably secured as he reached 19 goals for the season.
With the exception of Michel Vorm replacing Hugo Lloris in goal, this was the strongest side Pochettino could field and he was rewarded with a display of complete domination against the Championship side, who barely threatened Tottenham’s goal.
By contrast, Spurs should have won by substantially more than the three goals scored by Kane, who shook off a knee injury sustained during their 1-0 defeat at Gent in the Europa League on Thursday.
That came following a limp defeat at Liverpool last weekend, leading to doubts that Tottenham could handle the pressure of competing on three fronts.
But this was just the sort of confidence-building display they needed ahead of the return leg against Gent this week at Wembley.
“At 3-0 it looks as if it was easy, but that was because we took the game in a very good way,” said Pochettino.
“We showed them full respect and played as we need to play in every game.”
His counterpart Slavisa Jokanovic echoed those thoughts.
“Tottenham showed us respect with a very strong starting 11 and played as if they were playing against Chelsea, so all credit to them for that.”
Pochettino revealed that some hard truths had come out over the past few days.
“After Gent, we had a few meetings and the reaction was fantastic. What pleased me was that all the players wanted to play today and take responsibility.”
Tottenham took control from the start and never let up.
Kane and Dele Alli set up Christian Eriksen in the fifth minute, but keeper Marcus Bettinelli made a good save as defender Tim Ream dived in to challenge the Dane.
Tottenham’s most creative trio were causing Fulham’s defence problems with their movement and passing, and Alli shot wide from the edge of the penalty area.
But Kane rarely misses when he has a sight of goal and so it proved when he struck the opening goal.
Fulham left-back Scott Malone, who looked good going forward, was caught napping as Kieran Trippier took a quick throw on the right.
The ball gave Eriksen a chance to curl in a low cross, and Kane met it in the centre of goal with his left foot from six yards.
Alli should have doubled the lead a minute later, as the England midfielder controlled a long ball forward expertly with his right foot but could only manage a weak shot with his left, allowing Bettinelli to save from close range.
Eriksen also wasted a golden chance when Fulham gave the ball to Kane on the edge of their area, but from his pass, the Dane fired over the bar from a tight angle.
Harry Winks put the ball past Bettinelli but Kane was offside in the build-up, and the England striker then shot over the bar from wide on the left.
Fulham made a difficult task even harder by giving the ball away too often in their own half, but Tottenham’s stand-in keeper Michel Vorm was also guilty of over complicating things, giving the ball straight to Tom Cairney but then atoning by saving the Fulham captain’s shot.
Tottenham’s dominance should have allowed them a three-goal lead by half-time, but Fulham almost equalised in stoppage time when Sone Aluko cut in from the right but curled a tame effort into the arms of a grateful Vorm.
Normal service resumed after the break, however, and Kane made it 2-0 when he ran on to Eriksen’s cross from the right and flicked a shot through the legs of Bettinelli from close range.
Fulham supporters claimed he was offside, and again when he completed the scoring by running on to Alli’s pass in the 73rd minute to drill a shot into the net. Both were close calls, but Spurs could have had more.
Alli volleyed over from close range, Kane lifted the ball over the bar, Heung Min Son headed over and Bettinelli saved well from Victor Wanyama. Fulham’s only response came in the 71st minute when Kevin McDonald put the ball over the bar.
Tottenham now can look forward with more confidence to the second leg against Gent.
4-3-3: Bettinelli 6; Odoi 6, Ream 5, Kalas 5, Malone 6; Cairney 6, McDonald 6 (Parker 74), Johansen 6; Aluko 5 (Cyriac 66), Ayite 5 (Sessegnon 57), Kebano 5
4-2-3-1: Vorm 6; Trippier 7, Alderweireld 7, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6; Wanyama 7, Winks 7 (Dembele 79); Eriksen 7, Alli 7 (Onomah 86), Son 5; Kane 8 (Sissoko 75)
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