Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says Harry Kane will break “every possible record” after returning from injury to inspire Spurs to victory over West Brom.
Kane returned ahead of schedule from ankle problems to help end Spurs’ three-game losing streak, with his 208th Tottenham goal drawing the England captain level alongside Bobby Smith and behind only Jimmy Greaves in Spurs’ all-time scoring list.
Tottenham had failed to score in both matches Kane, 27, had missed but he took Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s through ball into his stride to slot home and break stubborn Albion’s rearguard resistance early in the second half.
“Harry Kane is a special player in the history of the club,” Mourinho told BT Sport.
“He is one of the best strikers in the world. The team depends a lot on him, we can’t hide that.
“It’s the goals he can score, the assists he can make, the link play he has, that personality that players like that can have and he is always an important influence for us.”
Kane’s goal was his 13th in the Premier League this season, taking him ahead of strike partner Son Heung-min for all of four minutes until the South Korea striker sealed Spurs’ victory with an emphatic finish from Lucas Moura’s pass.
Victory moved Spurs up two places to seventh, four points off the Champions League places, although that position and gap could change later on Sunday with Chelsea and Liverpool in action.
West Brom remain 19th and 11 points behind 17th-placed Burnley despite an improved defensive display.
Recent loan signing Mbaye Diagne was unlucky not to register his first Baggies goal on three occasions. The Senegal striker’s first-half header forced a fine save from Spurs skipper Hugo Lloris and he also saw two second-half finishes ruled out for offside.
Kane’s goal against West Brom was his 20th in all competitions for Spurs this campaign, a milestone he has passed in his past seven seasons – if he keeps up his scoring rate and, of course, stays at Spurs, he could be on course to break Greaves’ record by the time he turns 30.
Of the eight forwards above Kane on the all-time list of leading Premier League marksmen, only Sergio Aguero (180) is an active player, while none of the five strikers ahead of him on the England charts are still playing.
Leading into Sunday’s game, both teams appeared to be in varying degrees of disarray. Two months ago, Spurs topped the Premier League but had dropped to ninth, seven points off the top four, while a bedraggled West Brom had fallen increasingly adrift from safety.
From minute one, Kane’s return clearly boosted the hosts who, as they have historically done, boasted a far greater cutting edge with him than they had during the two games he missed.
Since the 27-year-old became a Spurs regular in the 2014-15 season, Tottenham have won 56% of Premier League games when he has been available but just 41% without him. Their average goals-per-game figure drops from 1.9 to 1.2 with him out of the side.
Those discrepancies have been magnified even further during Mourinho’s reign – Spurs’ win ratio in the league has dropped from 51.4% with him in the team to 30% without, losing five of the 10 matches he has missed, while both points and goals per game slip from 1.8 to 1.1.
While the limitations of the opposition are a factor that should be taken into account, Spurs looked a different side with their talismanic forward, enjoying more touches in the opposition box in the first half (15) than they did in the entirety of Thursday’s dour 1-0 defeat by Chelsea.
Kane could have had a first-half hat-trick but his finishing was atypically wasteful, lashing one chance on to the stanchion behind the goal and dragging another wide before finally forcing a near-post save from Sam Johnstone.
He made amends by holding his run perfectly to avoid being flagged offside for his coolly taken opener and, having set up Son for an earlier chance that Johnstone saved well with his legs, also played a part in the swift break that ended with the South Korean drilling home the second.
Kane continues to underline his importance to a Tottenham side who really do appear lost without him, with Son stressing the impact his fellow striker’s return had made on both he and the team.
“Harry Kane is so, so important for us. It was only a couple of games but we missed him a lot. Him coming back and scoring straight away, it’s what we needed. I missed him,” said Son.
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce relegated in-form playmaker Matheus Pereira to the bench in a bid to shore up Albion and cure the defensive ailments that have plagued their campaign, having conceded a mammoth 54 goals in 22 games.
It worked to an extent as Albion frustrated their hosts for long spells but they were still reliant on Kane’s first-half wastefulness, as well as a smart save from Johnstone to thwart Serge Aurier’s far-post header.
Had they displayed this sort of defensive fortitude in previous games, West Brom might not be in the desperate position in which they find themselves.
Three apparent opportunities fell to on-loan Galatasaray forward Diagne. However, the two that he stuck away – a close-range header and a prodded finish – were both scored from offside positions, whereas when he did stay the right side of the Tottenham defensive line he headed too close to Lloris, who still did well to save down low.
Ultimately, West Brom were undone by Spurs’ quality in the opening 15 minutes of the second half and it was another defeat for Allardyce against Mourinho, who he has never beaten in 13 attempts – three draws and 10 losses.
Allardyce will be heartened by the impact of several transfer-window signings – Diagne’s liveliness suggested he will score goals at this level, Robert Snodgrass delivered good crosses and Ainsley Maitland-Niles made an assured, if understated, debut.
But after just one win in 13 games, and with the teams above the relegation zone continuing to regularly collect points, the Baggies will need a miraculous turnaround to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho told BBC Sport: “I’m not used to losing three matches in a row and Tottenham is the same, so we have to admit that it was not a week where we felt very, very comfortable, but I was very positive because of what the players showed in this game. I knew that they would.
“I think we played very well but I’m speaking about the mentality the players brought to the game.
“The players are together, the players want to win, they are committed and today they went to the pitch only with one thing in their mind and that was to win the game. This was the thing that pleases me more, the way the players approached it.”
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce told BBC Sport: “The downside is letting the goals in after containing them in the first half. Seeing Harry Kane in our box unmarked. That lapse at this level just can’t happen. We should be stopping that at source.
“Then we let them go from their box to our box without putting a mark on anyone. We scored, it got disallowed, we scored again and that was disallowed but at least we scored two ‘goals’ here. If we get the right service in the box we’ve got a man who can score.
“Until we shut the back door, better life is going to be difficult for us. This is it now, the window is shut, we’ve got what we’ve got. We’ve got to start winning games and we won’t do that by keeping on losing. We need an undefeated run with more wins than draws in it.”
Tottenham visit Everton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday (20:15 GMT) before travelling to leaders Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday (17:30 GMT).
West Bromwich Albion host Manchester United in the Premier League next Sunday (14:00 GMT).