Harry Kane finally scored his first Premier League goal in August as Tottenham maintained their 100% start to the season with victory over newly promoted Fulham.
England striker Kane had failed to find the net in 14 previous games in the first month of the season and it looked like his barren run was going to continue as he had a goal ruled out and hit the crossbar at Wembley.
But his luck turned with 13 minutes remaining as he cleverly turned his marker inside the area before tucking the ball into the far corner for his side’s third.
Lucas Moura had opened the scoring in the first half with his first Premier League goal, curling a clinical strike beyond Fabri’s dive.
However, Fulham – who lost to Crystal Palace last weekend in their first game back in the top flight following promotion – levelled just after the break when Aleksandar Mitrovic nodded in from close range.
Kieran Trippier restored Tottenham’s lead with a stunning free-kick that stirred memories of his strike for England against Croatia at this summer’s World Cup, before Kane’s strike secured the points that moved the hosts top of the Premier League with two wins from their opening two games.
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- Relive Tottenham’s win against Fulham here
- Follow reaction to all of Saturday’s action here
Kane finally breaks August hoodoo
Kane scored 52 goals in 59 games last season – an incredible figure considering he failed to get off the mark in the Premier League until September.
The striker has been a notoriously slow starter to a new campaign and he once again failed to score in Tottenham’s opening win against Newcastle last weekend.
Kane looked short of match fitness in that game – not surprising considering he only returned to training five days prior to the start of the season following the World Cup – and for large spells he struggled to make an impression against Fulham on Saturday.
But even when he did have the chance to make his mark it looked like his August struggles would continue.
He first had the ball in the net midway through the first half, picking up a loose ball before clipping it into the net after Moura had charged through on goal – but that was ruled out after referee Anthony Taylor deemed the Brazilian had fouled Fulham keeper Fabri as they challenged for the ball.
There was more frustration in the second half when Kane timed a run perfectly to meet Trippier’s cross, but this time his volley cannoned back off the bar.
But if Kane was starting to become frustrated by his early-season struggles in front of goal he did not show it, finally breaking his August duck with a composed and clinical finish.
The goal ended a barren run in the first month of a Premier League campaign that had lasted for 1,065 minutes over five seasons.
Kane happy to put unwanted record to bed
|Kane in the Premier League|
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Kane’s finish also came with his 49th attempt on goal during his run and the 25-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live: “There has been a lot of talk about it every year and thankfully I got on the scoresheet and we got the win – and that is most important.
“It is one of those things that you can’t explain. I had chances today and everyone must be thinking it must be another one of those.
“I am not silly and I know people talk about it, but it is nice to put it to bed.”
This London derby brought together two sides who had employed very different approaches to the summer transfer window.
Fulham spent a reported £100m as they brought in 12 players in an effort to give themselves the strongest chance possible of survival on their Premier League return. Tottenham did not make a single signing.
It was that familiarity the Spurs players had with each other that ultimately came out on top, but there were promising signs for the Cottagers.
After looking like a collection of individuals for the first 20 minutes – struggling to put together a coherent spell of possession – they improved significantly as the game wore on.
Jean Michael Seri displayed excellent passing ability, most notably putting Ryan Sessegnon through with a wonderful ball over the defence, while Sessegnon himself highlighted why he is one of the most promising youngsters in England by getting in behind the Tottenham defence on a couple of occasions.
Given a bit more time together, Fulham fans can feel confident their team should soon start to justify the money spent to assemble it.
Man of the match – Kieran Trippier
Spurs put newcomers to the sword again – the stats
- Tottenham have won nine of their past 10 Premier League meetings with Fulham, losing in a home match in March 2013 (0-1).
- Fulham have conceded in their past 19 Premier League away games – the longest current run without a clean sheet away in the top flight (among this season’s 20 teams).
- Spurs are on a run of 19 consecutive home Premier League victories against newly promoted opponents, conceding just twice in their past 10 matches.
- Sessegnon has either scored or assisted each of Fulham’s past four goals in all competitions (1 goal, 3 assists).
- Since his debut for Fulham in February, Mitrovic has scored 13 league goals – only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (14) has more in the top four tiers of English football in that time.
- Moura has had a hand in six goals in his seven starts since joining Tottenham (two goals, four assists).
- Kane has scored 24 goals in 36 London derbies for Tottenham (0.67 goals per game). Only former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry has a better goals-per-game ratio of players to have played in 10 or more such matches (43 goals in 59 games – 0.73 goals per game).
Tottenham head to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Monday, 27 August (20:00 BST kick-off, while Fulham host Burnley the previous day (16:00).