FA Cup: Harry Kane's hat-trick helps Tottenham stroll past Fulham – * Tottenham win 3-0 to avoid shock at Craven Cottage * England international Kane grabs hat-trick * Spurs back on track back after two defeats
Tottenham’s Harry Kane scores their third goal to complete his hat-trick (Reuters – Eddie Keogh)
Harry Kane's hat-trick turned Tottenham Hotspur's potentially tricky FA Cup fifth-round tie at Championship side Fulham into a Sunday stroll by the River Thames as they sauntered to a 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage.
England striker Kane struck early on and twice after the interval to take his tally for the season to 19 as the eight-times FA Cup winners eased into the quarter-finals where they will face third-tier east London side Millwall.
It was Kane's second hat-trick in his last seven games and he has now bagged 20 goals in his last 22 London derbies.
Stung by consecutive defeats by Liverpool in the Premier League and Gent in their Europa League last 32 first leg, and wary of becoming another weekend Cup shock, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino fielded a strong lineup and was rewarded.
"After the two defeats, many players wanted to play today, it was a great opportunity to show we are alive," Pochettino told reporters. "This was a big boost in confidence today.
"We had meetings after Gent and the reaction was very good."
With their Belgium central defender Jan Vertonghen back from an ankle injury after missing five games and Kane having shaken off a knock sustained in the 1-0 defeat in Belgium on Thursday, Tottenham pinned Fulham back into their own area.
Spurs took the lead in the 16th minute with a move of simplicity. Right back Kieran Trippier, in for the rested Kyle Walker, released Christian Eriksen with a long throw and the Dane crossed low for Kane to volley home at full stretch.
He doubled the lead in the 51st, again glancing in from a pinpoint Eriksen assist, and finished off Fulham in the 73rd minute when he ran unopposed on to Dele Alli's clever pass and tucked a low right-foot shot past goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli.
Fulham, still with an outside chance of making the Championship playoffs, had their moments.
Floyd Ayite come agonisingly close to getting a touch to Scott Malone's low cross just before halftime while substitute Scott Parker, a former Tottenham player, headed straight at Michel Vorm late on as Fulham sought some consolation.
Pochettino is yet to win any silverware with Tottenham and clearly is eyeing the FA Cup as well as the Europa League.
"Maybe 3-0 looks easy but that was because we showed full respect to Fulham and we played how we need to play in every game," the Argentine said. "Happy to be in the next round. Now we have a massive game (against Gent) on Thursday. We need to put all our energy into that," he added with Spurs trailing 1-0 from the away leg in Belgium.
Tottenham, aiming to win the FA Cup for the first time since 1991, last played Millwall in the competition when they beat them in the third round and went on to win the trophy in 1967.