Harry Kane made his Tottenham return as Dele Alli’s first Premier League goal since March 2020 secured a 1-0 win over Nuno Espirito Santo’s former club Wolves.
Kane, a target for Manchester City, did not feature in Spurs’ opening day defeat of the champions or their loss to Pacos de Ferreira in midweek, though the England captain came on as a 72nd-minute substitute at Molineux.
While speculation will no doubt continue to mount as the transfer window draws to a close, Kane received a warm welcome from the travelling Spurs fans as he helped Nuno maintain his winning league start.
With Kane missing a gilt-edged chance to settle the contest late on, Alli’s ninth-minute penalty ultimately proved decisive – Adama Traore wasting Wolves’ best opportunity.
Having dealt admirably with Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish last week, Japhet Tanganga was tasked with keeping track of Traore this time around, though he had an early scare when the winger cut inside, only to blaze wide.
Wolves’ bright start was swiftly punctured – Jose Sa colliding with Alli, who stepped up to slot home the resulting spot-kick.
The moment we went ahead! pic.twitter.com/ubO2tKeekY
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 22, 2021
Making his first Premier League appearance at Molineux since November 2020, Raul Jimenez went close to equalising before the half-hour mark, his first-time effort skimming over, before Alli was inches away from tucking in Steven Bergwijn’s cross.
Nelson Semedo – who had earlier had a hopeful penalty appeal dismissed – tried his luck from range as Wolves started the second half with intent, the full-back’s venomous strike whistling wide.
Spurs could have been 2-0 up soon after, Son Heung-min having raced clear, but Maximilian Kilman got across to block the forward’s path.
Traore should have made Spurs pay as he went through one-on-one with Hugo Lloris, only to send his finish straight at the goalkeeper.
Kane’s introduction drew chants of appreciation from the Spurs fans, though he showed rare profligacy when put through by Bergwijn – Sa making a smart double stop to keep Wolves in it, yet the goalkeeper’s efforts were not enough to inspire a comeback.
What does it mean? Kane back, but for how long?
One of the transfer sagas of the summer looks set to go down to the wire. Champions City want Kane and he wants to join Pep Guardiola’s side but, so far, Tottenham are showing no signs of blinking.
While another bid from City is expected before the end of the month, should Kane stay put then Tottenham will be hoping they can keep up the momentum from what has been a promising start in the league for Nuno. Here, he got one over on his former team in what was the 100th meeting between Spurs and Wolves in all competitions.
Alli builds on positive start
A key fixture of the Spurs team under Mauricio Pochettino, Alli was a fringe figure under Jose Mourinho and limited to just 15 league appearances last season.
However, after an impressive performance in a more defensive role against City, the 25-year-old offered a reminder of his quality with another bright showing on Sunday, and got the goal – his first in the top-flight since he netted against Burnley on March 7, 2020. Spurs have now only lost one of the previous 45 Premier League games in which Alli has scored (W35 D9 L1).
Traore fluffs his lines
On what was his club-record 300th Premier League appearance for Spurs, Lloris must surely have been expecting he would be picking the ball out of his net when Traore broke through in the 61st minute.
However, the Spain winger took an awkward first touch and found his angle closed, with Lloris managing to reduce the expected goals (xG) figure of the chance to 0.333. Traore’s finish was still a poor one, however, from what proved the second-best chance of the match from open play – Kane’s late miss registering an xG of 0.336.
Spurs host Pacos de Ferreira in the second leg of their Europa Conference League qualifier on Thursday, needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit. Wolves have a little over 48 hours before they play Nottingham Forest in the EFL Cup, meanwhile.