A brace from Harry Kane continued Tottenham’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season in a 2-0 away victory over Nottingham Forest on Sunday.
Only five minutes had elapsed when Spurs opened the scoring on the breakaway. Dejan Kulusevski collected a loose ball in the centre circle before striding forward and releasing Kane in space. The England international set his sights, rolling the ball into the bottom corner to leave Dean Henderson rooted to the spot.
Brennan Johnson was particularly menacing for Forest in the early exchanges, but it was the visitors who were carving open their hosts at will on the counter-attack.
Joe Worrall was forced into a last-ditch sliding challenge to deny Kane a quick double after the forward was slipped through.
Son Heung-min then curled an effort agonisingly over the crossbar after Forest failed to clear their lines. At the other end, Lewis O’Brien stung the palms of Hugo Lloris from distance where Worrall was inches away from getting on the end of the rebound.
Johnson and Morgan Gibbs-White combined neatly from Harry Toffolo’s low driven cross four minutes before the interval, but the latter steered his effort off target.
All of Forest’s endeavour threatened to be undone, however, when referee Craig Pawson pointed to the penalty spot after Steve Cook handled the ball while contesting with Kane in the air. The Forest defender was perhaps fortunate only to see a yellow card, but he was indebted to his goalkeeper when Henderson sprung to his right to deny Kane from 12 yards.
The roof nearly came off the City Ground minutes later when the home side raced down the other end and came within inches of an equaliser. Toffolo’s cross was headed into the path of Neco Williams by Yates, but the Welshman’s effort was deflected wide.
Son had a couple of bites at goal that were heroically thwarted by Forest to deny Spurs their second of the afternoon, while Kulusevski went close minutes later.
Steve Cooper threw on most of his summer signings in search of an equaliser, with Emmanuel Dennis going close in the 79th minute after jinking inside and firing towards goal.
However, the visitors killed the game nine minutes from time through a reliable source. Substitute Ryan Sessegnon had initially made a mess of a two-on-one situation, but Richarlison showed impressive endeavour to retrieve the ball on the touchline. The Brazilian picked out Kane at the back post who, unmarked, had the simplest of headed finishes at the back post to make amends for his earlier penalty miss.
Worrall had the chance to reduce the arrears in stoppage time after the ball fell invitingly for the defender from a corner, but he blazed over.
Here’s how both teams rated.
GK: Dean Henderson – 7/10 – Huge stop to deny the usually reliable Kane from the penalty spot. His celebration afterwards told its own story.
RCB: Joe Worrall – 7/10 – Made a vital last-ditch challenge to prevent Kane from grabbing his second inside the opening 15 minutes. Solid in his defensive duels.
CB: Steve Cook – 4/10 – His decision to follow Kane deep inadvertently led to Spurs’ opener. Recovered his composure but he was fortunate to avoid a red card for a handball from a Perisic cross, although he was vindicated by the penalty save.
LCB: Scott McKenna – 6/10 – Hardly covered himself in glory for Spurs’ opener, struggling to match Kane’s pace as the Englishman darted into the space. But he was really composed with the ball and helped supplement Toffolo.
RWB: Neco Williams – 6/10 – Wasn’t afraid to unleash at goal whenever the opportunity arose. His overlaps down the right caused Spurs plenty of issues.
CM: Ryan Yates – 6/10 – Passed up a decent headed opportunity shortly after the restart, but it underlined his threat running from midfield.
CM: Lewis O’Brien – 6/10 – Terrier-like performance. Snapping into challenges and showing great composure in possession.
LWB: Harry Toffolo – 7/10 – Picked up some promising positions throughout, throwing several wicked deliveries into the penalty area. Looked like Forest’s brightest creative threat.
RAM: Jesse Lingard – 4/10 – Lacked conviction when carrying the ball and still looks short of sharpness in a Forest shirt.
LAM: Morgan Gibbs-White – 6/10 – Linked particularly well with Johnson in attack. Had a couple of sightings at goal and his quality in attack was evident.
ST: Brennan Johnson – 7/10 – Started the game with a sharpness to his movement and carried it throughout. Proved really effective at darting in behind the Spurs defence and combining with those behind him.
SUB: Emmanuel Dennis (69′ for Lingard) – 5/10 – Made a decent impact in attack.
SUB: Remo Freuler (75′ for O’Brien) – N/A
SUB: Taiwo Awoniyi (75′ for Cook) – N/A
SUB: Cheikhou Kouyate (75′ for Yates) – N/A
SUB: Sam Surridge (90′ for Johnson) – N/A
Manager: Steve Cooper – 7/10 – His team played with conviction in possession and there’s little he can do to influence the decision-making in the final third. Got most of his summer signings on the pitch in the second half.
GK: Hugo Lloris – 6/10 – Spurs managed to minimise Forest to shots off target, but the Frenchman stood up when required.
RCB: Davinson Sanchez – 5/10 – Sliced at a few clearances out of defence that helped Forest sustain their pressure. Quite clear why he isn’t a regular starter under Conte.
CB: Eric Dier – 6/10 – Really dominant in the air when required, but Forest tended to keep the ball on the deck.
LCB: Ben Davies – 6/10 – Defended with resilience, making a couple of decent blocks as Forest took aim towards goal.
RWB: Emerson Royal – 5/10 – Didn’t offer much of an attacking threat given Forest had Spurs pinned in for large spells.
CM: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 6/10 – His defensive positioning was usually sound enough, but his distribution of the ball was lacking and contributed to a poor performance in possession for Spurs. Clever at buying fouls.
CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 6/10 – Often bypassed too easily in midfield. Lacked the required bite in and out of possession, although he made a great interception on a cut-back situation for Forest in the second half.
LWB: Ivan Perisic – 6/10 – Delivered a gorgeous stood-up cross to draw the second half penalty for Spurs. Really effective at arriving late on the left for the switch of play.
RW: Dejan Kulusevski – 6/10 – Weighted his pass to perfection to release Kane for the opener. Didn’t see an awful lot of the ball, but his threat in transition was apparent in the second half.
ST: Harry Kane – 8/10 – Basically rolled the ball into the net to open the scoring for Spurs inside five minutes. Was at his menacing best throughout on the counter-attack and redeemed himself for his penalty miss by doubling Spurs’ advantage late on.
LW: Son Heung-min – 3/10 – Made a meal of a one-on-one situation in the first half, albeit he was clearly offside, which underlined the fragility in his confidence. Looked disappointed to be taken off.
SUB: Ryan Sessegnon (74′ for Perisic) – 5/10 – Made a meal of a gilt-edged two-on-one situation before Kane eventually scored.
SUB: Richarlison (74′ for Son) – 6/10 – Certainly made an impact, delivering for Kane to double Spurs’ advantage before drawing the ire of the Forest players for showboating.
SUB: Yves Bissouma (83′ for Kulusevski) – N/A
SUB: Djed Spence (90′ for Bentancur) – N/A
Manager: Antonio Conte – 5/10 – Spurs’ defensive resilience is by design, but the Italian needs to unleash a few more of his summer additions to raise the quality of his side.