Son Heung-Min steps up as Spurs captain with hat-trick: Moment of the Weekend


Pause at the moment Son Heung-Min is about to take his first shot on goal. The clock reads 15:52, the score Burnley 1 – 0 Tottenham Hotspur. Going by what we’ve seen of Son in the first three matches of the season, plus the whole of last season, that’s either blazing it high and wide, smacking it straight into the keeper or delaying it long enough for the lunging defender to get a touch in.

This was the Spurs fan’s real fear. When Harry Kane left for Bayern Munich less than 24 hours before the opening game of the season, having played a key role in pre-season, the question was who’d lead the line?

Three games of Richarlison fluffing his lines didn’t help. Neither did it that to the left of him, Son was doing much the same thing. Ange Postecoglou had them playing some beautiful, fast-interchanging, flowing football… but the fear lurked. ‘We’re going to miss Kane and his ruthless finishing, aren’t we?’

The missed chances hadn’t cost them much in the Premier League till now, but they had missed Kane’s penchant for a winner just this past mid-week when Fulham dumped them out of the EFL Cup in a penalty-shootout. Spurs fans had real reason to fear. If they were up against a wall, would someone be able to find that crucial finishing touch?

Then 15:53 happened at Turf Moor.

Son had done the hard work in setting it up, as he always does. A deft touch to pluck a Pedro Porro lofted ball down from the sky. A neat give-and-go with Manor Solomon where he subtly peeled away from the two defenders in the area. A well-judged touch to get it out of his feet. But it was the finish that announced his return to form: drawing his form taut to make the keeper think he was going for power before ending it with a delicate, slow-motion chip over him.

1-1 and there was no coming back for Burnley. Christian Romero scored with a scorcher of a hit, James Maddison curled it into the far corner, and then the Son Heung Min show was up and running again.

His second goal came just past the hour mark. Solomon running at the Burnley right flank before easing it square to Son at the edge of the box, Son opening up his body and simply passing it into the far bottom corner. 4-1.

His third was another example of clinical finishing, running onto a curled Porro pass in behind the backline, easily outsprinting his marker and calmly guiding it into the near post corner with his left foot. No delay, no complication, no fuss. 5-1 and Josh Brownhill’s late, late goal to make it 5-2 was barely noticed.

Son had taken over captaincy on the day the Prem started, and it would have been understandable if it all got a bit too much for him: the captaincy, new management, the loss of his great strike partner (they hold the Premier League-era record for goal combinations – one assisting the other’s goal).

That loss of on-field chemistry cannot be overstated, and there were real doubts if Son could rediscover his goalscoring form without the man who assisted him so much. Turns out those fears, those doubts… pretty unfounded.

A Tottenham Hotspur captain leading the line and scoring a hattrick away to make a potentially tricky fixture a routine win? We’ve seen that before… just this one was different and it is ESPN India’s moment of the weekend.

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