Son-Kane connection sublime as Tottenham pick listless Everton apart
LONDON -- Three points from Wembley on Tottenham's 4-0 win over Everton in the Premier League.
1. Tottenham trounce Everton in sparkling second half
This turned into the easiest of wins for Tottenham and a return to their bad old ways for Everton, who were well in the game until imploding early in the second half. Harry Kane scored twice and Christian Eriksen rounded things off but Son Heung-min, who provided the opener and also set up Kane's first, was the star here in a 4-0 victory that could easily have been even more convincing.
A slow start was enlivened on the quarter-hour when Son, meeting an Eriksen free kick at the near post, flicked a looping header narrowly off target. Everton responded immediately with a shot that Wayne Rooney dragged wide and at this point the game developed an end-to-end feel. Rooney saw a header disallowed for a narrow offside and then Kane, running through on the inside-left channel, drew a sharp parry from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Kane drew another save from Pickford and an opener began to look likely. It arrived in the 26th minute from a beautiful Spurs move, Eriksen switching the ball right to Serge Aurier, who was in acres of space and saw his driven cross touched in adroitly by the onrushing Son.
There was little more goalmouth action in what had turned into a watchable first half. The second began with a near carbon-copy of the opening goal. The buildup had even more artistry to it though, Son drawing gasps with a turn that left Jonjoe Kenny trailing before driving into the box and drilling in a centre that Kane touched in from close range. Shortly afterwards Son released Dele Alli but the midfielder blasted into the side netting; then Pickford beat away another Kane drive and Everton were reeling.
Son, almost unplayable by now, jinked in from the right before thumping a low drive against an upright. But the third goal soon arrived, a completely unattended Kane scuffing another point-blank finish past Pickford from Eric Dier's right-sided ball, and with half an hour still left it was damage limitation for the visitors.
Although Pickford saved from Son and Alli as the clock ticked down, he could not prevent the fourth. It was another lovely move with Son finding Alli, whose back-heel was swept home brilliantly by Eriksen, but once again Everton had failed to put up any serious challenge. They slunk from the pitch after a second period in which they had been demolished.
2. Brilliant Son has become vital to Tottenham
Son has become indispensable to Pochettino and Tottenham. The South Korean's strike was his 11th of the season and his fifth in consecutive home games, a feat that only Jermain Defoe had matched for Spurs in the Premier League era. His importance grows every year and these days he is the go-to man whenever Pochettino's team, whose intensity has dropped at times this season, need to step things up.
This match featured everything Pochettino loves about Son, always such a tireless worker but increasingly a devastating force in the final third too. His goal showed a poacher's eye for where a slick Tottenham move would finish, timing his run inside from the left to perfection as Aurier surged towards the box.
It was the assist for Kane, though, that will be replayed for the rest of the weekend: the Cruyff-like turn that so befuddled Kenny, executed at speed as a moving ball came towards him, was a sumptuous piece of skill and in the minutes after that he tore into Everton single-handedly. He was unfortunate to strike the post and the perfectly-weighted ball he provided for Alli perhaps deserved better than to be blasted wide.
Son was still going strong with four minutes to play, pressing Mason Holgate on the edge of the defender's six-yard box and almost forcing him into a costly error. That level of industry means he rarely completes 90 minutes for Tottenham but he was rewarded with a whole game here, perhaps as a sign of the importance he currently holds within the side. In Son's first season at Spurs he started 46 percent of the club's league games; last term it was 68 percent and this time around the figure is 71 percent. That is no accident and, as he put in one of his best performances for them here, the thought arose that this percentage will only keep rising.
3. Tosun shows promise despite defeat
Cenk Tosun did not score but perhaps he has given Everton licence to attack even if, on this evidence, they are harder-pressed to remember their responsibilities further back. The new signing from Besiktas was put straight into Everton's starting XI and, at the outset, it was not hard to see why Allardyce was unwilling to ease him in slowly. Their previous four Premier League games had brought just one goal and the void left by Romelu Lukaku's summer departure had been a gaping one. If spending £27 million on a player with little professional experience outside Turkey was a gamble, the fact that the 26-year-old has become one of Europe's most prolific forwards -- scoring 14 times already this season for Besiktas -- suggested he could possess the cutting edge they have lacked.
The early stages held some promise, even if Tosun was unable to bring a ninth-minute through ball by Idrissa Gueye under his spell. The touch that set Rooney up for an effort sent past the post, laying off a Pickford drop-kick first-time as it came down, was outstanding and it was his header, too, that Rooney diverted home only to see the flag raised.
Tosun aimed a harmless header over before the break and caused one or two alarms with his pace, which looked especially threatening over a distance. It was a far different story after half-time, Everton returning to the pitch several minutes before Tottenham but responding with a capitulation that gave the newcomer no chance to shine.
Shortly after the hour Tosun was replaced by Dominic Calvert-Lewin but, despite his part in such a convincing defeat, he had given cause for optimism. Before the game was put beyond them, Everton's approach, more front-footed than in previous games with Gylfi Sigurdsson, Yannick Bolasie and Wayne Rooney all buzzing around the centre-forward, looked as if it might pay dividends. Such an atrocious start to the second half, racked with misplaced passes and negligent defending, put paid to that; Everton may have drawn a blank here but their new-look attack was the least of their concerns.
Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.