Antonio Conte’s unbeaten league start as Tottenham boss continued as they kept pace with the top four with a comfortable win over a lackluster Brentford.
A 12th-minute own goal from right wing-back Sergi Canos gave them the lead before Son Heung-min finished off a scintillating counter-attack in the second half.
The opener came from a Son dinked cross after a short corner, with Pontus Jansson’s clearing header ricocheting off Ben Davies and onto Canos before flying into the roof of the net.
Spurs pressed for more goals, with Son denied from range in the first half, while Harry Kane saw a one-on-one effort well saved by Alvaro Fernandez after the break.
Son got the goal that his performance, and Spurs’ display, deserved when he latched onto Sergio Reguilon’s cross to tap home from six yards.
It was a limp display from Brentford, with their only shot on target in the whole game a tame left-footed effort from Ivan Toney.
Tottenham climb to sixth – two points behind West Ham in fourth – while Brentford slips to 12th.
Spurs showing signs of improvement
After last Thursday’s Europa Conference League defeat against NS Mura Conte said Spurs “have to do better in everything, everything, everything”.
There are signs of that improvement already.
The former Chelsea manager has had a week to work with his team on the training ground after Sunday’s Premier League game at Burnley was postponed because of heavy snow in Lancashire, and despite his animated and at times furious demeanor on the touchline, he will be much happier with his side’s display.
They started brightly with Lucas Moura having a near-post drive tipped wide, before they got a deserved breakthrough, albeit in a slightly fortuitous fashion.
A one-goal lead is always precarious, but in this case, it could have effectively ended the game.
Brentford had fallen behind in six previous games already this season and had only recovered to take a point from 18 available in those, while Spurs had won all four of their games in which they had opened the scoring.
Thomas Frank’s team have conceded six goals in the opening 15 minutes so far this campaign – the most in the league – and they toiled hard, but were unable to create any meaningful chances with Bryan Mbeumo’s left-footed volley, that looped wide, their only effort in the first half.
Tottenham deserves credit, though, with a solid defensive shape nullifying any potential threat from the visitors.
Conte’s side lacked energy in the goalless draw at Everton in his first game in charge, before improving as the game wore on in their 2-1 win against Leeds, but this was the best-attacking display of his brief reign so far.
Son was fantastic throughout, and was a constant threat on the break, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was excellent in midfield and saw an effort saved before hitting the side-netting in the second half.
‘I am delighted with Kane’
It was another frustrating night for Kane, with the England captain still having only scored one Premier League goal this campaign.
A fully firing and confident Kane would have buried the one-on-one opportunity in the second half, and he may have been more selfish and shot from range rather than laying off for Moura early on.
However, despite a joint second-lowest 45 touches for Tottenham, there were encouraging signs, with his raking pass out to Reguilon carving Brentford open for the second goal, and a game-high four chances created.
Conte said he is “not worried” about Kane’s lack of goals: “He played a really good game and had chances to score, but the goalkeeper was very good.
“To have a player like this and to play with his commitment, desire and passion make me very happy with his performance. He doesn’t care if he scores or doesn’t score – if he plays in this way I am happy and delighted. Tottenham is the first thing we need to think about.
“I’m sure Harry will score a lot of goals.”