FOR Harry Kane, the records continue to tumble and the reality was there was never any doubt. Another day, another hat-trick.
It was the Tottenham Hotspur striker’s eighth of 2017 but the headline details were even more eye-catching.
Kane had Alan Shearer’s Premier League mark for a calendar year in his sights and he duly overhauled it. Shearer scored 36 times for Blackburn Rovers in 1995; Kane has finished the year with 39 and he did it from 36 matches. Shearer took 42.
Even better for Kane is that he now stands as Europe’s leading scorer from 2017 – ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, the player that he one day hopes to supplant as the best in the world. Messi has 54 goals from 63 appearances in all competitions.
For Kane, it is 56 from 52.
It was an occasion when the atmosphere was slightly subdued, despite the excellence on display, and it was easy to imagine the bloated insides and fuzzy heads in the stands. Kane’s clarity of purpose shone brightly.
He opened up with a header before dispatching two left-footed efforts and he is now the top scorer in this season’s Premier League with 18. Nobody would bet against him adding a third consecutive Golden Boot.
It was a miserable 90 minutes for Southampton and their manager, Mauricio Pellegrino, who heard chants from the travelling support about him being sacked in the morning. Once again he started without Virgil van Dijk in his squad – it seems inevitable the defender will get the move he has pushed for in January – and it is now seven games without a win for the club.
Pellegrino’s team were dreadful in the first half but at least they kept fighting when the game was over at 4-0.
Kane could and should have had more. He touched wide from Christian Eriksen’s low cross on six minutes but he did not have to wait long for the goal that took him past Shearer and level with Messi.