Although dominating possession and chances created throughout the game, it needed Kane’s 58th minute spot kick to break the deadlock and ultimately win the game as Aitor Karanka’s side proved to be a typically tough unit to penetrate.
We controlled the first half with Victor Valdes making a good save from Heung-Min Son, Toby Alderweireld heading a corner against the post and Kane putting a header over the bar after a good move among our best chances, but we couldn’t find a way through by the interval.
Valdes was called into action again by Christian Eriksen early in the second period before we eventually opened the scoring. Son was brought down by Espinosa Bernardo inside the area and Kane buried his penalty, driving the ball into the bottom right with Valdes diving the other way.
Further chances fell to Son, who hit the side-netting, and Eriksen, his curling effort deflecting off Fabio and away for a corner, while Boro did have a couple of sights of goal late on. Alvaro Negredo connected with Fabio’s cross with an acrobatic scissor kick in the 86th minute but it went wide of Hugo Lloris’ far post and they had a glorious chance in stoppage time, Marten de Roon volleying wide with only Lloris to beat.
We held firm though, making it 10 wins and two draws from our 12 Premier League games at the Lane this season and closing the gap on leaders Chelsea back to nine points.
Mauricio Pochettino made two changes to the team that started at Sunderland on Tuesday night. Ben Davies came in for the injured Danny Rose at left-back while goalkeeper and skipper Lloris was back in after being laid low by illness in midweek.
CHANCES: SON AND DELE SPURN EARLY OPPORTUNITIES – 10mins
It was very much one-way traffic in the early stages, although it was Boro who had the first shot across the bows when Negredo headed over in the fourth minute. Two minutes later Dele Alli led a counter-attack and played Son through on goal, his first touch didn’t quite get the ball out from his feet but he still brought a good save out of Valdes with his effort. And on 10 minutes, Eriksen’s clever pass found Dele inside the area but he put it wide as Valdes raced off his line.
WOODWORK: ALDERWEIRELD HEADS AGAINST THE POST – 25mins
The pattern of the game was set, as we were controlling possession and looking to play on the front foot all the time, while Boro were trying to contain and then pounce on the counter. We almost made our dominance count in the 25th minute when Eriksen whipped in a corner which Alderweireld met with a near-post flick, only to see his header hit the post and go out for a goal-kick.
CHANCE: KANE OVER THE BAR – 35mins
Opening up Boro’s compact defence was the main focus of the game and it was proving tricky at times, but we did so on 35 minutes and should have perhaps taken the lead. A lovely move saw Davies and Dele combine to send Son away down the left, his first-time cross found the head of Kane but he put his effort over the bar.
Above: Harry Kane up against Marten de Roon.
GOAL DISALLOWED: KANE DENIED BY OFF-SIDE FLAG - 41mins
Our England striker did have the ball in the back of the net three minutes before the break as he converted Son’s low centre, but the assistant’s flag was immediately up for off-side and it didn’t count.
GOAL: SPURS 1-0 MIDDLESBROUGH – HARRY KANE (PEN) – 58mins
Boro came out for the second half with a bit more purpose and put us under pressure for a spell, but once we dealt with that we started to take control again. Eriksen tested Valdes from the edge of the area after good work from Kane and Son before we broke the deadlock from the penalty spot. Mousa Dembele played in Son down the left channel of the area and as he cut back onto his right foot, Bernardo took his legs away and Mark Clattenburg awarded the spot-kick. Kane stepped up and sent Valdes the wrong way.
CLOSE: ERIKSEN EFFORT DEFLECTED WIDE – 85mins
The goal certainly settled the tension and allowed us to continue to control the game. On 67 minutes, Dele played in Son who was one-on-one against Bernardo, shifted the ball onto his left and cracked a shot which hit the side-netting. We had countless opportunities on the break without really capitalising, the best coming five minutes from time when Eriksen’s curling effort inside the area deflected away for a corner. Negredo’s acrobatic scissor-kick was an impressive effort a minute later but it drifted wide of the far post, while De Roon should have done much better when he latched onto Negredo’s header and volleyed wide from 15 yards - the last chance as we held on for three hard-fought points.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO SAID
"It was a tough game but it’s true we dominated the game. We played very good football, created a lot of chances and we’re a little disappointed because you need to score more than one and not open the game. At the end we suffered a little, we were a little nervous because in the Premier League the game is never closed if you don’t have that gap. In the end, we’re happy after a good performance and happy because three points puts us in a good position in the table."
TOBY ALDERWEIRELD SAID
"We defended well. We could have made it easier by scoring a second or third goal but it’s important just to win these games, especially with teams around us dropping points. You need a little luck as well, like my header that hit the post or Harry’s header - if one of those goes in then it’s much easier but we kept control of the game. If you don’t score you have to keep clean sheets and stay tight and we’ve done that for a few weeks now. That’s certainly going in the right direction."
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Walker, Dier, Alderweireld, Davies, Wanyama, Dembele, Son (Sissoko 81), Alli (Winks 88), Eriksen, Kane (Janssen 90+2). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Wimmer, Carter-Vickers, Onomah.
Middlesbrough (4-5-1): Valdes, Chambers, Bernardo, Gibson (c), Fabio, Traore (Bamford 79), Clayton, De Roon, Forshaw (Guedioura 62), Downing (Stuani 62), Negredo. Substitutes (not used): Guzan, Ayala, Leadbitter, Gestede.
Goals: Spurs – Kane 58 (pen).
Yellow cards: Middlesbrough – De Roon.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.
We have a free midweek ahead of us before our trip up to Merseyside next weekend, when we take on Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side have hit a bit of a rocky patch lately and are currently on a run of one win in their last 10 - a 1-0 success at Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup. Kick-off at Anfield next Saturday is at 5.30pm.