On Wednesday, Tottenham’s melancholy was lightened by Harry Kane, who scored twice in a stunning 4-0 victory over Crystal Palace, helping Nottingham Forest escape the drop zone.
Forest defeated bottom-of-the-table Southampton 1-0, troubled Wolves drew 1-1 at Aston Villa, and struggling West Ham and Leeds drew 2-2 to split the points.
After the World Cup, the Premier League resumed, and Antonio Conte’s erratic Tottenham, who finished fourth last season, had only earned one point from two games.
The disgruntled Italian manager, who enjoyed success at Inter Milan, Chelsea, and Juventus, issued a warning this week that he would only stay if he was completely sold on the club’s plan.
Conte was looking for a reaction after Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at home against Aston Villa and he eventually got it despite an insipid first-half performance from his team.
“The character of this team always shows,” he told Sky Sports. “Maybe only in the last game against Aston Villa we didn’t have a strong reaction. Otherwise every game we show strong character.
“It is really important. We got three points. We continue to stay very close for the good positions. After you don’t win and the confidence is down, it was important to win.”
Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper, was instrumental in maintaining the score at 0-0 throughout the first half at Selhurst Park as Spurs struggled offensively. However, things changed after the break.
In his 300th Premier League game, England captain Kane scored twice in five minutes to close the gap on Jimmy Greaves’ Spurs record of 266 goals, which he now trails by just two.
Ivan Perisic’s left-wing cross found Harry Kane, who expertly headed past Vicente Guaita at the near post to give Tottenham the lead in the 48th minute.
When the ball dropped to Bryan Gil on the right and he flicked a pass to Kane, the English forward struck a low strike unerringly into the bottom left corner to double Spurs’ advantage.
Midway through the second half, Matt Doherty made it 3-0, and Son Heung-min added one more goal four minutes later to put Spurs at 33 points, two points behind fourth-place Manchester United.