Manager Jose Mourinho hailed Harry Kane’s “special” qualities after the striker’s 150th Premier League goal earned Tottenham victory at West Brom.
A third successive league victory temporarily lifted Spurs to the top of the table on Sunday before Leicester replaced them after their 1-0 win against Wolves.
A game of few chances seemed destined to end goalless after Hugo Lloris had kept out Darnell Furlong’s second-half header and a flurry of Tottenham chances had come and gone without reward.
But, as has been the case so often in the past, Kane punished a minor lack of concentration to head home an 88th-minute winner.
Mourinho said: “This guy does much more than scoring goals. For example, last five minutes he was playing as a number six and winning balls in front of the defence. Special.”
He added: “Harry Kane you have to say has this many goals, this many assists, this number of balls recovered, this number of duels won. This number of balls that he saved his team in defensive set-pieces. This is Harry Kane. It’s goals plus this and this and this and that.”
The England captain’s latest feat comes only days after he scored his 200th goal for the club. Midfielder Eric Dier paid tribute to his team-mate’s latest “fantastic record”.
He said: “He broke one in midweek and now he has another one. It won’t affect him too much, he will want another 150.”
The decisive moment arrived when West Brom’s defence failed to track Kane’s run into the box, allowing him to leap unchecked to meet Matt Doherty’s cross and guide the ball over goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
For West Brom, who have now scored once in their last five games, it was a result that keeps them in the relegation zone and already facing a tough battle to retain their top-flight status.
It is too early for Spurs fans to get carried away, but when you look at some of the players who did not even make Mourinho’s matchday squad – Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez and Steven Bergwijn – there is no reason why they should not be competing for the biggest prize.
Apart from the start of his final season at Manchester United, when they played a day before everyone else, this was the first time a Mourinho side topped the Premier League – albeit briefly – since September 2017.
Mourinho has infused grit and organisation into an already top side – not to mention added Gareth Bale.
The Welshman was not at his best on this occasion but, starting a Premier League game for the first time since 2013, he formed a potentially lethal attacking trio alongside Kane and Son Heung-min that will not be easily subdued.
Son could have made life a lot easier for Tottenham if he had taken an early chance that came his way, but the South Korean took far too long to set himself when in space at the far post and Kyle Bartley blocked the shot.
After that, it was a succession of long-range shots, none of which threatened Johnstone’s goal.
And when Doherty had an effort saved near the end, it seemed Spurs would have to settle for a point.
But Kane had other ideas to send Tottenham into the international break in a very healthy position, with Manchester City and Chelsea their next two opponents.
Mourinho said his team would have to grind out some wins, like Sunday’s, in order to attain a “good position in the table”.
He told BBC’s Match of the Day: “I feel satisfaction because we won and have 17 points and have 12 in 12 possible away from home. That compensates the dropped points at home, and for this reason I am happy.”
The Portuguese boss added: “The Premier League is the most difficult one to be, because in the Premier League you can do a good season, can have lots of points, but in the end: Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Leicester, Arsenal. So you can have a good season and not be champion.”
It has not been an easy few days for West Brom. Defeat at Fulham on Monday brought criticism from Bilic and the absence of veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic was not helpful.
Ivanovic and Matheus Pereira both tested positive for coronavirus in the week, meaning more shuffling of a West Brom squad that has looked short of the class required to drag themselves out of trouble near the foot of the table.