To paraphrase Mohammed Abu Fani, the Maccabi Haifa midfielder, he was going to own Harry Kane. Everybody has seen the social media video by now and the only thing to say is that it did not really work out that way.
It was never going to. Tottenham are in a different league to their Israeli opponents on pretty much every level and they made light work of smoothing safe passage into the group phase of the Europa League. It is not exactly the promised land after the club had begun to get used to the Champions League but it will do for this season.
After everything that Spurs had done at the end of the previous campaign and how the qualifying rounds of the competition have led to such fixture congestion at the start of this one, it felt like something to celebrate, even if the final whistle brought little more than silence.
Kane scored a hat-trick and José Mourinho even felt emboldened to substitute him with 15 minutes to go and the score at 6-2. Giovani Lo Celso scored two, Lucas Moura got another and there was time at the end for Dele Alli, on as a half-time substitute, to summon a glorious turn followed by trademark nutmeg to draw a penalty from Bogdan Planic. Alli picked himself up to score it.
Mourinho had made nine changes to his lineup for Spurs’s seventh game in 18 days this season. The number that will mean more to him and the club is the extra millions that a Europa League run will bring. They can now look forward to a day off, perhaps, and then the Premier League visit to Manchester United on Sunday. “Job done, group phase, almost at the end of an incredible period,” Mourinho said.
Kane found the breakthrough after just 92 seconds following Ben Davies’s cross and it was plain from the early running that Spurs had the beating of Maccabi man-for-man in the final third, that the visitors were going to struggle to keep them at bay.
That said, Maccabi were determined to ask questions at the other end and Tjaronn Chery’s equaliser for 1-1 was a beauty. The former QPR player got the ball to swerve viciously from outside the area and it flew away from Joe Hart and into the top corner. It was not an isolated first-half effort. Chery twice extended Hart, Toby Alderweireld had to stretch into one saving challenge and the ubiquitous Abu Fani fizzed just wide of the angle.
Spurs, though, found it so easy to play through Maccabi that they could afford to be relaxed about what their opponents did on the ball. Mourinho’s team had four by the interval and it could have been more. Lo Celso shot into the side-net, Steven Bergwijn worked the goalkeeper and Kane had three moments when a finish just eluded him.
Some of Maccabi’s concessions were grisly – not least those for the second and fourth goals. Lucas was allowed to dart onto a Bergwijn corner and flick a header home while Lo Celso’s second followed a miscue by Planic. Kane released the Argentinian whose clipped finish was of the highest order. Lo Celso’s first had come after Lucas’s header was blocked and Davies prodded the ball back to him.
It would not be football these days without a couple of dodgy penalties for handball and Maccabi got the first one early in the second-half when Dolev Haziza blasted the ball at Matt Doherty from about a yard away. The Spurs full-back had his arms by his sides but it did not matter. Nikita Rukavytsya beat Hart from the spot. The award of Kane’s kick for 5-2 was also harsh, although Ernest Mabouka was a little further away when Davies hammered a cross at him.
Moments earlier, Abu Fani had forced Hart into another save and there were further chances at both ends, mainly for Spurs. Kane’s third was a nonchalant little chip after good work by Bergwijn and Mourinho was able to finish the evening happily posing with Maccabi players for selfies.
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Tottenham Hotspur F.C., José Mourinho, Maccabi Haifa F.C., UEFA Europa League, Harry Kane, Dele Alli
Actu monde – AU – Harry Kane hat-trick sparks Tottenham demolition of Maccabi Haifa