Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Harry Kane make light work of Norwich
Away team scorers Dele Alli 2 Harry Kane 30 Pen Harry Kane 90
Dele Alli, despite feeling unwell, put Tottenham into an early lead against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
No January purchases, no Jan Vertonghen, no problem for Tottenham Hotspur. Not here, at any rate. This was a suave demonstration of Spurs’ intention to sustain their challenge at the top of the Premier League. They strode into the lead in the second minute thanks to Dele Alli and never looked like slipping up. Harry Kane scored a second from the penalty spot before adding a third late on as Mauricio Pochettino’s men continued their upward trajectory and left Norwich floundering at the other end of the table.
Norwich may be grasping for security at the slippery end of the table but this could still be seen as a serious test of Spurs’ ability to stay the pace in the title race, given that it was their first league match since the loss of Jan Vertonghen to knee ligament damage. Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld’s solidity in central defence had been one of the keys to the club’s uncharacteristic consistency this season but here they had to show that the dismantling of the Belgian partnership need not be ruinous.
Kevin Wimmer was paired with Alderweireld instead, and for his first league start since last summer’s arrival from Köln, the Austrian was facing a Norwich attack that had put four goals past Liverpool in the last match at Carrow Road.
Norwich still lost that match, of course, which is why the hosts deployed a new centre-back too, Timm Klose making his debut alongside Sébastien Bassong after joining from Wolfsburg last month. That was one of five changes that Alex Neil made from the Liverpool match in a bid to ensure that Norwich’s vibrant attacking was not undermined by ramshackle defending. If Norwich are going to avoid relegation, their slew of January recruits must blend quickly with their new team-mates. They could have done without Spurs reinforcing that point, but the visitors took the lead in less than two minutes.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men made an authoritative start but Norwich were guilty of being too meek in the way they defended a corner in the first minute and then failed to deal with the follow-up. A shot by Alderweireld was cleared only as far as Christian Eriksen, whose curling effort from 20 yards was spilled by Declan Rudd. Alli reacted faster than Bassong to stab the ball into the net from close range.
Spurs had begun with a swagger and they continued in that style, lording it over hosts who were made to look lower class. Alderweireld almost scored a second in the 10th minute but his free header from a corner flew inches wide. Seven minutes later Harry Kane ghosted past Ivo Pinto on the left wing and crossed for Son Heung-min, who tried to beat Rudd with a deft flick at the near post but found only the side-netting.
Spurs looked stronger, slicker and more imaginative than Norwich, who made a habit of arriving on the scene of a pass just after the visitors had made it. What Maurico Pochettino craved was another goal to confirm his team’s dominance. It arrived on the half hour, albeit after a contested penalty decision. Alli went down in the box after beating Bassong to a rebound off Rudd from a shot by Kane, and Kane rammed the penalty into the net.
Four minutes later Kane almost scored again but his ferocious shot from the left cannoned back out off a post. Alli should have made it 3-0 before the break after dashing into the box undetected by any Norwich defender, but the 19-year-old headed Danny Rose’s cross wide from eight yards.
Norwich’s hope of staging a comeback looked faint, even more so when they were denied a penalty after Steven Naismith went down under a challenge from Wimmer.
Alii was replaced by Nacer Chadli at half-time but nothing about the way Spurs started the second period suggested they were about to ease off their hosts. But nor were Norwich ready to give up. In the 51st minute they presaged improvement by mounting their most dangerous threat so far, Naismith going close with an improvised header. Moments later the home crowd cheered a goal but those celebrations were premature, as Bassong was correctly declared offside. Kane could have deepened the home side’s anguish moments later but dragged a shot way wide when clean through.
Norwich made Spurs defend more in the second half and the visitors did so impressively, with Wimmer coping well and Mousa Dembélé and Eric Dier providing sturdy protection in midfield.
Norwich continued to search for a route back into the game but Spurs closed off all avenues. Kane could have crowned the victory with a break-away goal in the 82nd minute but his shot bounced out off a post. Eriksen gave him a near identical chance in the last minute and this time Kane finished emphatically.