Harry Kane equals Alan Shearer's goal record as Spurs run rampant at Burnley
BURNLEY, England -- Three points from Turf Moor on Tottenham's 3-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League.
1. Kane equals Shearer's record
What more can you say about Harry Kane? The Tottenham striker equalled Alan Shearer's record for Premier League goals in a calendar year -- 36 -- with a brilliant hat trick in a 3-0 win over Burnley at Turf Moor. Kane, who made it 50 goals for 2017 against Stoke earlier this month, can move ahead of Shearer if he finds the net against Southampton on Boxing Day in three days' time. You would not bet against it.
Kane cooly dispatched a penalty in the seventh minute, sending Nick Pope the wrong way after Dele Alli had been fouled, and he doubled Spurs' lead with another calm finish midway through the second half, collecting Moussa Sissoko's pass and rolling the ball under the goalkeeper, who had kept Burnley in the game until that point.
Kane had scored five doubles in the league before Saturday and frequently expressed his frustration that he has been unable to add to his collection of match balls. But as Burnley chased the game, he clinched a treble with a low left-foot finish across Pope.
It moved Kane, who has won the Golden Boot for the past two seasons, level with Mohamed Salah on 15 goals at the top of the Premier League scoring charts -- remarkable given it does not feel like he has been at his best so far this season.
The three points moved Spurs above Burnley into fifth and ensures they have put the 4-1 humiliation at Manchester City behind them. Spurs have been the best team over Christmas in the past two seasons and they looked at their free-flowing best for much of the game against a Burnley side, who felt aggrieved at the decision to award the penalty.
2. Alli the centre of attention again
Much of the prematch focus was on Dele Alli, who was lucky to be available for Spurs after escaping with a yellow card for a studs-up lunge on Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne last weekend. The 21-year-old was quick to lose his head again, flying into Charlie Taylor after four minutes to earn another booking. It was a fair punishment this time but it left Alli with 86 minutes on the tightrope.
Moments later, he burst into the box and went down theatrically after a clash with Kevin Long to win Spurs a penalty, converted by Kane. Again, it was probably the correct decision from referee Michael Oliver but the three-minute spell summed up Alli's short career and showed why he has quickly earned a reputation for recklessness and theatrics, as much as talent.
Thereafter the England midfielder was at the heart of Spurs' best openings, and he assisted Kane's third goal with a cute pass. He should have finished with at least one more assist after Kane hit the side-netting and Sissoko forced Pope into a double-save when on a breakaway.
Convinced he had gone down too easily, the Burnley fans booed Alli's every touch and chanted "cheat." It only seemed to spur him on to produce his best football since scoring twice against Real Madrid on Nov. 1 and he constantly found space, forcing the Burnley players into increasingly harder challenges.
Alli has used moments of controversy to spur him on in the past -- he scored in four straight games after being sent off against Gent last season -- and Mauricio Pochettino will hope he can use the De Bruyne incident as a springboard for the rest of the campaign. But once again, he came perilously close to costing his team -- he would have been sent off had Oliver deemed it a dive -- and he continues to tread a fine line between necessity and liability.
3. Burnley in for reality check
This time of year, when the fixtures come thick and fast, can be make or break for top-four challengers as squads are stretched to the limit. Burnley have been worth their spot in the top five so far but they were without James Tarkowski for the first time this season against Spurs and they sorely missed the centre-back.
His replacement Long, making his third league appearance of the season, may have felt Alli dived but he was naive to make the challenge in the first place and Burnley's defence was unusually open without Tarkowski, even considering the early deficit.
Both Sissoko and Son Heung-min missed glorious chances to double Spurs' lead either side of half-time when they waltzed into huge open spaces and Kane was so free for his second goal, he was even able to look over his shoulder to check for the offside flag. It was uncharacteristic of a Burnley side who had conceded just 12 goals -- the same number as both Manchester clubs -- before kickoff. Tarkowski will also miss the trips to Man United on Boxing Day and Huddersfield four days later, while Burnley host Liverpool on New Year's Day. By the end of that tricky run, they could be well adrift of the top four as the fixture list takes its toll and separates the wheat from the chaff.
Burnley had four strikers in the 18 but their squad is thin in other areas and Tarkowski's absence was an indication of its wider weakness. Having overachieved so far this season, it would not be a surprise if the Clarets now begin to fall away from the European spots.
Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.