Harry Kane struck a brace and also saw a penalty saved as Tottenham maintained their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 2-0 win at a lively Nottingham Forest.
The England striker opened the scoring on six minutes when he coolly rolled in Dejan Kulusevski’s pass to net the 200th league goal of his career.
Spurs continued to look menacing on the break, but it was Forest who dominated for much of the first half with record signing Morgan Gibbs-White twice going close from distance.
The visitors then had the chance to double their advantage on 56 minutes but Kane saw his low spot kick magnificently kept out by Dean Henderson.
Newly-promoted Forest continued to play with real positivity and vigour and almost levelled when Neco Williams fizzed inches wide.
However, Antonio Conte’s men sealed the points nine minutes from time when Kane nodded in substitute Richarlison’s cross to move level with Andrew Cole in third place in the overall Premier League top scorers list.
The result sees the Lilywhites move up to third in the table, two points adrift of leaders Arsenal after four games played. Forest sit 14th on four points.
Next up, Spurs visit West Ham on Wednesday night while Forest face their biggest test yet when they travel to champions Manchester City.
Kane and Spurs offer promising signs as visitors keep hungry Forest at bay. This was arguably a sterner test for Tottenham than many observers were predicting with Steve Cooper’s newly promoted side dominating for long periods. While some supporters may want to see their team dictate more, the result perhaps demonstrates why Conte’s men could be a real force this season. The Lilywhites look assured at the back and managed to restrict a vibrant Reds attack throughout, despite the intense atmosphere created by a buoyant home faithful.
Many feel Spurs are yet to hit their best this term and so a haul of 10 points from a possible 12 is a pretty good start. Conte has pushed hard for strength in depth across all positions and the impact from the bench was clear, with quality replacing quality. It’s early days but the last time Tottenham avoided defeat in their opening four league matches in 2016-17, they went on to finish second. With Kane already amongst the goals and looking as hungry as ever, the omens could be good.
As for Forest, there are plenty of positives they can take from the performance, but scoring is always more difficult at the highest level and they are going to need to improve in the opposition penalty area in the weeks and months to come if they are to remain in the top-flight beyond this campaign.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Harry Kane (Tottenham). It could easily be Forest’s Dean Henderson, who produced a series of splendid saves, including a penalty stop that ultimately denied Kane a hat-trick. In the end, the difference in the match came in the penalty area and it was the England hitman who made it count. That’s 187 and counting in the PL and he no doubt has his sights on Alan Shearer’s record haul.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Henderson 8, Worrall 7, Cook 6, McKenna 7, Williams 7, O’Brien 7, Yates 7, Toffolo 8, Lingard 8, Johnson 8, Gibbs-White 8. Subs: Dennis 6, Kouyate 6, Freuler 6, Awoniyi 6, Surridge n/a.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Sanchez 8, Dier 8, Davies 8, Emerson Royal 7, Bentancur 7, Hojbjerg 7, Perisic 8, Kulusevski 8, Son 6, Kane 8. Subs: Richarlison 6, Sessegnon 6, Bissouma n/a, Spence n/a.
06’ – GOAL! – Nottingham Forest 0-1 Tottenham. Kane takes Kulusevski’s pass in his stride before rolling a low 20-yard shot into the bottom corner.
16’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Forest fail to clear their lines from a Perisic cross and almost pay the price. It drops to Son 22 yards out but the South Korean sees his curving effort flash inches over the bar.
41’ – NOTTINGHAM FOREST CHANCE! Lingard touches Toffolo’s low ball from the left back into the path of Gibbs-white, but the midfielder’s strike is just over the top. More fine approach play from the hosts goes unrewarded.
51’ – NOTTINGHAM FOREST CHANCE! Yates arrives late in the box heads Gibbs-White’s floated cross inches wide of the far post. Lloris was rooted to the spot.
56’ – TOTTENHAM PENALTY SAVED! Henderson dives to his right to keep out Kane’s low spot kick. The penalty was awarded after Cook punched Perisic’s cross away with Kane looking set to nod home. VAR checked for a red card but settled on a caution.
57’ – NOTTINGHAM FOREST CHANCE! Almost all square. Williams fizzes inches wide after a left-wing cross was flicked into his path.
62’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Son’s cut back from the right is well defended, but the ball falls kindly for the Spurs forward and he jinks inside before seeing a thumping shot brilliantly stopped by Henderson.
81’ – GOAL! – Nottingham Forest 0-2 Tottenham. Kane is left in acres of space to nod home after a lovely outside of the foot cross from Richarlison.
90+7’ – NOTTINGHAM FOREST CHANCE! Worrall blazes over from 12 yards after Tottenham had failed to deal with a corner.