ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Tottenham 5 Southampton 2
It was about history for Harry Kane, but also about the here and now. He ends 2017 having outscored his predecessors and his peers alike.
As Tottenham demolished Southampton, Kane erased one of Alan Shearer's records.
The 24-year-old has scored the most Premier League goals in a calendar year, a total of 39 completed by his second-hat-trick in four days and his sixth of 2017. Shearer's previous mark was 36 set in 1995.
A past great was overhauled. So, too, were modern masters.
Kane's year has brought him 56 goals for club and country, two more than what Lionel Messi mustered and three better than Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani.
The company he keeps is a sign of the level he has reached.
Kane has got there by persistence, perspiration allied with moments of inspiration. He often makes scoring seem simple.
FIRST GOAL MAKES KANE: EPL'S TOP SCORER (37) IN A CALENDAR YEAR AHEAD OF Shearer
SECOND GOAL (BELOW): EUROPE'S 2017 TOP SCORER (55) AHEAD OF Messi
Yesterday, his first two goals came from a total of about four yards, easy finishes proving products of his predatory prowess and positioning. They were scarcely strikes for a highlights reel.
His third showed more artistry, a deft chip after a defence-splitting pass from Dele Alli.
Shearer was among the first to congratulate Kane after the record-breaking strike in the 22nd minute, tweeting: "You've had a magnificent 2017, Harry Kane. You deserve to hold the record of most Premier League goals in a calendar year. Well done and keep up the good work."
When asked how it felt to be spoken of in the same breath as Messi and Ronaldo, Kane told Sky Sports: "I'm very proud of it. To get compared to those players - the Messis and Shearers - is what it is all about.
"Messi and Ronaldo have dominated football for so long. They are two of the world's greatest players.
"To be compared to them and be up there with them is a great feeling.
"I have to use that as confidence going into the New Year."
If Kane's goals have been a constant, Alli's lack of them has been an issue. After just one in his previous 15 league games, he struck with a curler. The excellent Son Heung Min added a fourth with an angled shot.
When Kane delivered their fifth, Spurs had 16 goals in their last five league games. Their push for a top-four finish has gathered pace amid a flurry of finishes.
In contrast, Southampton have gone seven games without a win.
Their best defender, Virgil van Dijk, did not even travel with a January move looking inevitable. Their finest striker, Charlie Austin, is both injured and suspended.
His replacement Shane Long slipped as he had his best chance and has now gone 319 days without a goal for club and country.
They did hit the woodwork twice and scored consolation goals through Sofiane Boufal and Dusan Tadic, but it was a wretched display.