With a clinical finish and a neat assist, Son Heung-min delivered his best impression of Harry Kane to propel Tottenham back to the top of the Premier League on Monday.
The 2-0 win over Fulham showed once again that Tottenham can thrive without the departed Kane this season.
Especially with Son, the player who has replaced Kane as the team’s center forward, in such prolific form.
Both of Tottenham’s goals came from the same source — Fulham defender Calvin Bassey giving away possession when passing out from the back under pressure — and Son had a key role in each of them.
In the 36th minute, the South Korea captain was on hand to collect a pass from Richarlison after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg intercepted Bassey’s clearance. Son showed great footwork to cut inside, around covering defender Tim Ream, and curl a shot into the far corner from the edge of the area.
The second goal, scored by playmaker James Maddison in the 54th, was similar as Hojbjerg again stopped a pass from Bassey reaching its intended target. Bassey is a left-footed player who was deployed Monday as a right-sided center back and he misplaced both passes with his right foot.
Hojbjerg stabbed a first-time pass to Son, whose deft lay-off went into the path of Maddison and the England playmaker slotted home under former Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
“That was what won us the game tonight, the work without the ball,” Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said. “Both our goals came from that.”
Tottenham regained the two-point lead with which the team entered the weekend and remained unbeaten after nine games, along with north London rival Arsenal. It has 23 points under Postecoglou, who took over as Tottenham manager in the offseason, and that’s the most any coach has gained from his first nine games in charge in the competition.
Kane might be pouring in the goals in Germany — he has nine in eight games for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga — but Son is doing the same for Tottenham since being pushed up front by Postecoglou, having started the season on the left wing.
Son has seven goals, the same as Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and only two behind top scorer Erling Haaland of Manchester City.
Maddison has also slotted in seamlessly since joining from relegated Leicester in the offseason. That was his first home goal, after scoring twice on the road, and he celebrated by performing a darts pose alongside Son.
“Coming to a club like Tottenham, which is obviously a bigger club in stature than Leicester, the scrutiny, the responsibility, the pressure goes up a notch,” Maddison said. “I love that. I thrive off that — 60,000 fans were here today and I love these occasions.”
Fulham stayed in 13th place on 11 points.
“At the end of the day, the goals we gave away are identical,” said Ream, Fulham’s captain. “Players at this level will punish you if you give the ball away in those areas.”