Tottenham were yet again indebted to Harry Kane, who scored his 17th goal of the season to put them into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Harry Kane moved just one goal away from becoming Tottenham’s joint all-time leading goalscorer to secure a 1-0 FA Cup third-round win over Portsmouth.
Kane is just a solitary goal behind the great Jimmy Greaves’ stunning raid of 266 for Spurs after he opened the scoring with a superb second-half finish.
The England captain’s 17th goal of the season at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday was enough for the Premier League club to seal their place in the fourth round.
Antonio Conte’s men failed to register a shot on target in a poor first-half display, but they improved significantly after the break against a side who have not won in nine League One games – resulting in the sacking of boss Danny Cowley this week.
Pompey showed no signs of being overwhelmed in the positive start, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild forcing a save from Fraser Forster with an early left-footed volley.
Spurs were short on ideas as they were unable to break down their well-trained opponents, Kane having a close-range effort blocked by Denver Hume before Son Heung-min fired over in a lackluster first half.
Tottenham showed more urgency early in the second half and Emerson Royal headed Son’s cross against the post before Kane headed home with a classy finish.
The prolific forward exchanged passes with Ryan Sessegnon before unleashing a sumptuous strike into the bottom right corner from the edge of the penalty area five minutes after the break.
Oliver Skipp should have doubled the advantage when he flashed a ferocious effort over the bar from inside the box, but Kane’s goal was enough for Spurs to advance.
Tottenham player ratings
GK: Fraser Forster – 5/10 – A very quiet day. Booed by over 9,000 Portsmouth fans with every touch for his Southampton allegiances.
CB: Japhet Tanganga – 6/10 – Largely fine. Got rattled by a physical duel with Bishop in the second half but it didn’t lead to anything.
CB: Davinson Sanchez – 6/10 – Similarly untroubled. Missed a free header in the first half after leaping too soon.
CB: Ben Davies – 6/10 – Again, dependable. Tottenham’s problem was that none of their centre-backs were capable of making line-breaking passes.
RM: Emerson Royal – 5/10 – A sloppy passer when Spurs needed precision. Improved after the break but he was playing Portsmouth after all.
CM: Oliver Skipp – 5/10 – Another rusty display from a man in need of further game time after nearly a year out.
CM: Pape Matar Sarr – 7/10 – Full of energy and demanded to be given the ball throughout. Lacked a killer pass but then again so did most Spurs players.
LM: Ryan Sessegnon – 5/10 – Timid at both ends of the pitch, though at least provided Kane with an assist.
RF: Bryan Gil – 6/10 – Dug in and worked ever so hard, while he began to pick the lock after the break. Continually selfless in pursuit of a goal.
LF: Son Heung-min – 5/10 – Managed to win a few corners and free-kicks with his delivery and dribbling but provided little in way of direct threat.
CF: Harry Kane – 8/10 – Head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. Began to dictate the game at will in the second half and scored a peach of an opener. Now one goal away from matching Jimmy Greaves’ all-time Spurs scoring record.
Djed Spence (78′ for Sessegnon) – 5/10
Alfie Devine (90′ for Gil) – N/A
Antonio Conte – 6/10 – Spurs were flat for most of the time, but they looked assured defensively at least.
Portsmouth player ratings
GK: Josh Griffiths (6); RB: Zak Swanson (6), CB: Michael Morrison (6), CB: Sean Raggett (6), CB: Connor Ogilvie (6), LB: Denver Hume (5); CM: Joe Morrell (5), CM: Ryan Tunnicliffe (5), LW: Owen Dale (5), RW: Reeco Hackett (5); CF: Colby Bishop (4)
Subs: Louis Thompson (4), Josh Koroma (5), Michael Jacobs (N/A), Joe Pigott (N/A), Ronan Curtis (N/A)
Manager: Simon Bassey – 5/10