LEICESTER (AFP) – Harry Kane staked his claim to finish as the Premier League s top scorer with a scintillating four-goal blast in Tottenham s 6-1 demolition of Leicester on Thursday.
Although Tottenham were unable to overhaul champions Chelsea in the title race, Mauricio Pochettino s vibrant young side look certain to make a renewed challenge next term and Kane is the figurehead of that bright future.
Kane is hunting the league s golden boot and the England striker was at his predatory best as he plundered the Leicester defence four times to move to the top of the scoring charts with 26 goals.
Everton s Romelu Lukaku is second on 24 goals but Kane is well on course to nail down the goalscoring prize heading into Tottenham s final fixture at Hull on Sunday.
South Korea s Son Heung-Min scored twice for Tottenham, who swept to their 11th win in their last 12 league games after Leicester s Ben Chilwell briefly reduced the deficit in the second half.
Tottenham, already guaranteed to finish second, now have more points than Leicester won the league with last season, but if Pochettino s players were frustrated at falling short in the title race, they haven t let it show.
Foreshadowing their imminent goal spree, Tottenham started with a swagger and nearly took the lead when Kane s pass picked out Son, only for Chilwell to deny him with a last-ditch block.
Son s movement was too clever for Leicester again moments later as he turned quickly and shot over.
Despite Tottenham s pressure, they were lucky not to fall behind when Jamie Vardy scythed through their defence.
Accelerating onto Riyad Mahrez s deft pass, Vardy had only Hugo Lloris to beat, yet he wastefully blasted straight at the Tottenham goalkeeper.
Unfazed, Pochettino s team should have taken the lead when Son collected Dele Alli s defence-splitting pass and blazed over with just Kasper Schmeichel to beat.
Kane was a constant menace and he went close with a curling effort before underlining his predatory excellence in the 25th minute.
Jan Vertonghen s long pass targeted a penetrating run from Son and, with Leicester caught flat-footed, the South Korean quickly picked out Kane, who arrived on cue to guide a clinical finish past Schmeichel from close-range.
Although Leicester had a penalty appeal rejected after Toby Alderweireld collided with Vardy, Tottenham were proving impossible to subdue and the visitors doubled their lead in the 36th minute.
Alli was the catalyst, taking possession on the edge of the area and impudently bypassing the Leicester defence with a sublime chipped pass to Son, whose half-volley lacked power but still had enough accuracy to beat Schmeichel.
Son s 20th goal of the season was just reward for Tottenham s dominance, but Leicester got one back in 59th minute.
Despite replays showing he was marginally offside, Vardy was allowed to sprint onto a through ball, prompting Lloris to rashly race well outside his area in a failed attempt to clear.
When Daniel Amartey poked the ball to Chilwell, the Leicester defender steadied himself before firing home via Eric Dier s out-stretched foot.
Even that needless setback couldn t ruffle Tottenham and they responded with a well-worked third goal four minutes later.
Alderweireld looped a cross into the Leicester area and Victor Wanyama nodded back towards Kane, who reacted quickest to head in from close-range.
Kane turned provider for Tottenham s fourth goal in the 71st minute as his pass teed up Son to flash a fine finish past Schmeichel.
With Leicester s minds turning to their post-season holidays, Kane had acres of space to pilage the hosts defence and he completed his hat-trick with a superb 20-yard strike in the 89th minute.
Kane wasn t finished yet and he produced a carbon copy of his third goal in stoppage-time, driving home from the edge of the area to put the seal on his goalscoring masterclass.