Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as Tottenham swept aside second-tier Fulham 3-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup today, avoiding the difficulties endured by other Premier League teams against lower-league opposition this weekend.
While the FA Cup is now regularly used by top-flight teams to rest leading players, Kane's appearance at Craven Cottage was a sign of Tottenham's lack of options up front. And a clinical treble could just be what Kane needs to raise his confidence as Tottenham challenges at the top of the Premier League and has to retrieve a 1-0 deficit against Genk in the Europa League on Thursday.
Since scoring three times against West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League last month, Kane had only scored once in five games before facing an inviting Fulham defense.
Fulham, which was relegated from the Premier League in 2014, was caught out by Tottenham's speedy move down the right flank for the 16th-minute opener.
Christian Eriksen met Kieran Trippier's long throw-in and delivered a cross to Kane, who slid in to nudge the ball over the line.
After being wasteful for the rest of the first half, Kane was quick off the mark six minutes after the break. Kane evaded U.S defender Tim Ream, in front of national team coach Bruce Arena, to meet another cross from Eriksen and put the ball between goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli's legs. Dele Alli set up Kane's third with a through-ball in the 73rd minute that the England striker fired past Bettinelli.
"We probably should have had a few more goals," Kane said.
Later Sunday, record 20-time English champion Manchester United is at 1995 Premier League champion Blackburn, which is now fighting to avoid being relegated from the second-tier League Championship.
Three Premier League teams came unstuck in the fifth round on Saturday. Burnley was knocked out by fifth-tier side Lincoln, reigning Premier League champion Leicester was beaten by Millwall and Manchester City was held by Huddersfield.
The remaining fifth-round fixture on Monday sees Arsenal play away at non-league side Sutton United, which plays in the fifth tier with Lincoln.