Neil Humphreys: Tottenham Hotspur's defence hammered
West Ham's comeback spoils Kane masterclass
Tom Cruise has nothing on West Ham United this morning.
Mission Impossible became a reality in north London, as the Hammers overcame a three-goal deficit to snatch a ludicrous 3-3 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, the equaliser coming from a strike from the gods.
Well, it was a long-range missile from substitute Manuel Lanzini in the 94th minute, completing a comeback that defied belief.
|TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR||WEST HAM UNITED|
|(Son Heung-min 1, Harry Kane 8, 16)||(Fabian Balbuena 82, Davinson Sanchez 85-og, Manuel Lanzini 90+4)|
Spurs were 3-0 ahead after 16 minutes. The game was done. Harry Kane's masterclass had taken care of proceedings and confirmed Spurs' title-challenging credentials.
But manager Jose Mourinho will burst blood vessels over his side's defensive collapse.
Title dreams are not made this way. This was the stuff of nightmares and certainly an outcome that Kane didn't deserve.
The game should've been about his earnest swagger to the game's pinnacle.
He scored twice and picked up an assist. He now has five goals and seven assists in five games - an English Premier League record - but the data doesn't tell a complete story.
Comparisons serve little purpose either.
The Alan Shearer link might have flattered a year ago, but the Tottenham star has surpassed such simplistic connections.
In that sweet spot between 10 to 20 metres, Kane has evolved into a flawless technician. He passes better than Shearer. He drifts back, supports and supplies his teammates better than Shearer.
And he's still only 27.
The best may be yet to come.
Without anyone paying too much attention, Spurs suddenly find themselves with the complete centre-forward, an intelligent creator and an indefatigable automaton - all in the same player.
Until recently, there were commentaries suggesting that Kane was following the well-worn path of English forwards, joining Shearer, Michael Owen et al. as a weary striker with too many miles on the clock.
Kane had supposedly had his chance. The future belonged to fledgling speedsters like Manchester United's Mason Greenwood. But the early obituaries overlooked certain stars aligning for the celestial one.
First, Kane happens to be the definitive Mourinho striker, the relentless totemic presence happy to lead the line or drop back (Kane also makes key interventions in Hugo Lloris' box).
And second, Son Heung-min shares his colleague's impeccable timing, rising to a career peak in tandem with Kane.
Music had Lennon and McCartney. Tech had Jobs and Wozniak and Tottenham have Son and Kane, the most dazzling creative partnership seen in such parts since Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle.
The pair conspired to establish a 3-0 lead within 16 minutes. The scoreline could've easily been doubled. The Hammers were as defensively inept as Spurs were delightful up front.
West Ham manager David Moyes had just returned from a post-coronavirus period of isolation. He should've stayed there.
Within 45 seconds of his return, the Hammers were a goal down.
Kane, the architect, hoisted a quarterback's pass behind Fabian Balbuena. Son slipped inside the spinning defender and drilled his shot home.
Seven minutes later, Son returned the favour. The South Korean found Kane outside a crowded box.
Coolly, elegantly and effortlessly, Kane wriggled free, nut-megged Declan Rice and fooled Lukasz Fabianski with a brilliant finish inside the near post.
The contest seemed over when Kane leapt above West Ham's five-man defence to nod in Sergio Reguilon's excellent cross.
Spurs might just boast the most effective attacking duo in the EPL, along with an astonishing range of creative options that put Gareth Bale on the bench and left Dele Alli at home.
Bale eventually stepped out in the 72nd minute, seven years after he departed for Champions League immortality at Real Madrid.
If anything, Tottenham regressed after Bale's introduction, conceding two sloppy goals that the visitors scarcely deserved. Balbuena's header in the 82nd minute was swiftly followed by a Davinson Sanchez own goal just three minutes later.
Spurs looked set to hang on, until Lanzini's colossal, stunning, jaw-dropping strike into the top corner, ripped from the pages of comic book fantasy.
It was a fitting way to steal the show and remind Mourinho that his silverware success has always been built in defence.
But there's no defence for Tottenham's collapse.