Son Heung-min ended his goal drought as the South Korea star responded to being dropped by hitting an incredible 13-minute hat-trick in Tottenham’s 6-2 rout of Leicester on Saturday.
Son came off the bench to score Tottenham’s last three goals, including a pair of brilliant long-range finishes, in an emphatic victory that lifted them into second place in the Premier League.
It was the ideal response from Son after he had been axed for failing to score in his previous eight appearances.
Just days after Tottenham boss Antonio Conte had warned that no player was undroppable, Dejan Kulusevski came in for Son, who finished as the Premier League’s joint top scorer last season.
Explaining Son’s omission, Conte said: “We needed to start making rotations because playing all the same players in all the games is not good.”
Son’s eye-catching treble showed he won’t sulk when Conte wants to take him out of the firing line, but the 30-year-old will have taken private satisfaction at reminding the Italian of his enduring class.
It was the perfect evening for Tottenham, who bounced back after losing for the first time in eight games this season on Tuesday when Sporting Lisbon scored twice in stoppage-time to seal a 2-0 win in the Champions League.
Tottenham’s fifth win from seven league games moved them above Arsenal and level on points with leaders Manchester City.
Although Arsenal would leapfrog their north London rivals with a win at Brentford on Sunday, Conte’s men go into the international break in fine fettle.
Bottom of the table Leicester’s sixth successive defeat will pile pressure on boss Brendan Rodgers after his outspoken criticism of the club’s failure to back him in the transfer window.
Beleaguered Leicester had taken the lad when Davinson Sanchez conceded a spot-kick with a needless lunge on James Justin.
Hugo Lloris saved Youri Tielemans’ penalty, but VAR showed the Tottenham keeper had stepped off his line before the kick, giving the Belgian midfielder a retake that he gratefully converted.
– Sublime Son –
Since spending a disappointing loan spell at Leicester early in his career, Harry Kane had tormented the Foxes with 19 goals against them before this latest meeting.
Kane took that tally to 20 as the England captain escaped Timothy Castagne’s slack marking to meet Kulusevski’s cross with a clinical far post header in the eighth minute.
Leicester’s weakness in aerial duels was exposed again in the 21st minute when Eric Dier ran across his marker to score with a fine glancing header from Ivan Perisic’s corner.
Rodgers’ side equalised with a bolt from the blue as James Maddison met Castagne’s cross with a half-volley that arched over Lloris into the far corner in the 41st minute.
But the turning point came when Wilfred Ndidi allowed himself to be dispossessed by Rodrigo Bentancur deep inside his own half in the 47th minute.
The Uruguay midfielder drove forward to slam a fierce finish past Danny Ward from the edge of the area for his first Tottenham goal since signing from Juventus.
Son replaced Richarlison in the 59th minute and stole the spotlight as he bagged his long-awaited goal in the 73rd minute.
Receiving Bentancur’s pass 30 yards from goal, Son advanced with purpose and rifled a brilliant finish into the top corner, but that was only the start.
Picked out by Kane in the 84th minute, Son repeated his long-range magic as he bent a stunning strike past Ward from 20 yards.
Two minutes later, Son sprinted onto Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s pass for a cool finish that survived a VAR check for offside as the South Korean celebrated by triumphantly holding up three fingers.