Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur continued their fine start to the season with a 2-0 win at Nottingham Forest courtesy of an excellent Harry Kane brace.
Tottenham got off to a promising start, with their front three posing major problems for Nottingham’s defence. Harry Kane found the back of the net after just five minutes of play. Then, Dejan Kulusevski broke into the final third and sent a perfectly weighted ball to Kane, who tapped home his 200th league goal with ease despite not having the best of connections on it.
Son Heung-min and Kane came close to increasing the advantage for the visitors before the 20-minute mark, with the former flashing his effort inches above the crossbar from the edge of the box. However, Forest responded and played some fantastic football and were the better side in the first half, with Brennan Johnson menacing for them in the early exchanges.
Ryan Yates had a couple of shots blocked, Lewis O’Brien stung Hugo Lloris’s gloves with a fierce strike from range and Brennan Johnson headed wide a Scott McKenna cross. And just before half-time, Morgan Gibbs-White found himself in a great position in the box but failed to convert as he fired narrowly over the bar.
20% – Dean Henderson has only conceded one of the five penalties he has faced in the Premier League (20% – 3 saved, 1 hit post), the lowest percentage of any goalkeeper to face at least five spot-kicks in the competition. Expert. pic.twitter.com/ID0aCrb12E
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 28, 2022
However, for all Forest’s positive play, Tottenham had a two-goal cushion early in the second half when Forest conceded a penalty through a Steve Cook handball, but Kane’s penalty was denied by Henderson, who has now saved penalties in back-to-back games.
Kane would eventually find his second goal to put the game to bed after substitute Richarlison kept a loose ball alive brilliantly and picked out Kane’s head with an exquisite cross. It was far from a walk in the park for Spurs thanks to a boisterous atmosphere at the City Ground.
They were outplayed for long periods by a gusty Forest side but held firm to go joint-second behind fierce rivals Arsenal in the Premier League table. The Hard Tackle will now analyse the performances of Antonio Conte’s troops.
Hugo Lloris: 6/10
Lloris made a good save from Lewis O’Brien’s shot midway through the first period and did well to whisk away Morgan Gibbs-White’s low cross with Jesse Lingard lurking at the far post. Otherwise, the Tottenham captain had little to do all game barring a couple of routine saves as all of Nottingham Forest’s shots were off target and were speculative efforts, lacking a clinical edge. His distribution was extremely poor, though.
Davinson Sanchez: 6.5/10
With Cristian Romero out injured, Sanchez was back in the lineup and produced several solid blocks and clearances throughout the game and was perhaps Spurs’ best defender on the night. Though, he left a bit to be desired with the ball at his feet in the first half but grew confident and solid as the game went on. The Colombian did not put a foot wrong and helped his team to keep another shutout in his presence.
Eric Dier: 5/10
It was a rough game for Dier, who looked to be a weak link in the Spurs backline as he was turned inside out by Forest attackers a fair few times. He won a few dominant headers in the middle of the pitch but also got caught out other times when he got his timing and angles all wrong.
The Englishman contributed next to nothing in the game, winning zero ground duels, and making no tackles or interceptions. Still showcased some leadership skills to organise the backline when under siege.
Ben Davies: 7/10
Another very solid display from Davies, who showed bits of some excellent last-ditch defending on the night. Coped well with the backline under pressure numerous times as Forest caused them plenty of issues with some lively play, especially the threat posed by his fellow countryman Brennan Johnson. He covered the space left by Perisic when the Croat went forward, but like Sanchez, he struggled to break the lines with the ball against Forest’s press.
Emerson Royal: 4/10
Plenty of enthusiasm, but his decision-making in the final third let him down. Looked unsteady defensively and offered little at the other end. Lost the possession a whopping 17 times during the game, a team-high. All in all, a poor performance from the Brazilian wing-back.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg: 7/10
Hojbjerg was one of Spurs’ better players in the first half as he put forth a driving performance from the midfield in his attempt to push Spurs up the pitch and also teed Harry Kane up with a perfect pass in the first half.
Defensively, he was a warrior in making some crucial interventions, including a superb block to stop Ryan Yates’ dangerous attempt to test Lloris, and he won all of his ground duels.
Rodrigo Bentancur: 6/10
It was a solid yet unspectacular performance from Bentancur, who kept the ball ticking over when in possession, but it was far from a passing masterclass, and more graft in the middle of the park, as Spurs’ midfield was outnumbered in the first half.
Ivan Perisic: 7/10
Deployed once again in an advanced role, Perisic spent a lot of his time defending with a couple of key interventions to keep Williams quiet. But when he was afforded space to make a couple of runs into the final third, he displayed his quality, notably delivering a stood-up cross for Cook’s handball.
Dejan Kulusevski: 7/10
For most of the game, Kulusevski was the Spurs’ most creative player and unquestionably their most dangerous threat in transition. He got an early assist to his name as he played in Kane with a clever reverse pass despite having the easy option to his left in the form of Perisic in ample space.
After the interval, he did the same to set up Son Heung-Min, before his own shot was blocked after slashing in from the right. It was yet another bright performance from the Swede.
Harry Kane: 8/10
Only Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney have scored more Premier League goals than Harry Kane 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Q2cwZGwbqA
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 28, 2022
The Player to Watch for in our Match Preview, Kane got on the scoresheet with just five minutes on the clock, as he practically rolled the ball into an open net to open the scoring. Ten minutes after the break, he had a great chance to double his tally, but Dean Henderson denied his penalty. Fortunately, he made amends for his error with a simple header from close range to seal the deal for Spurs.
Son Heung-min: 4/10
Son’s drastic drop-in form this season is quite concerning as he once again struggled to get involved in the attacking play or have a positive influence for much of the match. He came close to ending his goal drought with a fine curling attempt that went narrowly over the bar. Looked a little short of confidence in front of goal, as demonstrated by that missed one-vs-one against Dean Henderson, which was later flagged for offside.
Ryan Sessegnon: 6/10
When Perisic got exhausted, he provided much-needed energy down the left, but he got his cross all wrong leading up to Spurs’ second, but it luckily did not matter since Kane converted seconds later.
Came on to provide Spurs with fresh legs and energy in attack, as the team had a lot of counter-attacking chances. With a fantastic cross utilising the outside of his boot, he laid the ball on a plate for Kane’s crucial second goal that sealed the tie. Should start the next game ahead of the underperforming Son.
Yves Bissouma: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Djed Spence: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.