Explosion of relief spoke of deep love for Son Heung-min at Tottenham

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They will all tell you it does not matter who scores the goals as long as the team are winning, of course, but the explosion of delight when Son Heung-min fired his first into the top corner hinted at a different truth.

It was Tottenham’s fourth in the victory against luckless Leicester, brilliantly curled into the top corner with his right foot from 25 yards, and the scorer froze as the pressure of 118 days without a goal evaporated.

‘I couldn’t move,’ said Son, who had started the game on the bench. ‘I was just emotional for myself. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood still, looked at the sky, looked at the crowd. In my head, all my family came to mind, all the staff, all my team-mates. That’s why I just stood and had a think.’

The goals were the forward’s first of the season after he had struggled earlier in the campaign

Thirteen minutes later, swept along by the emotion, Son had completed a hat-trick, the third awarded after a VAR check for offside to another deafening roar from the home crowd, and he walked off a hero with the ball under his arm.

All this, seven years to the day after his first goals for Spurs, two inside two minutes in the Europa League against Qarabag of Azerbaijan.

‘I was born loving football and I’m still in love with football,’ said Son. ‘I think about football. I’m an attacking player and when I’m not scoring I’m not happy. How can I be happy if I have an unbelievable opportunity to score or make chances? If I’m happy and I’m not scoring, I wouldn’t be here.

The South Korean Son Heung-min ended his 118-day drought with the hat-trick in 14 minutes

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The South Korean Son Heung-min ended his 118-day drought with the hat-trick in 14 minutes 

‘Sometimes when I go home, even if we have won the game, I’m still sad because my performance wasn’t good and there are things I can do better, and the mistakes I made because I missed the chances. I’m always thinking about football because I made it here and this is the way I am.

‘I love football even in the tough moments and this is why I am here.’

Strikers need goals to survive and Son’s barren run hit hard after last season ended with 12 goals in 10 games. Spurs boss Antonio Conte resisted the urge to leave him out until Saturday and all the pre-match chatter was about the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner dropped to the bench.

‘Sometimes you achieve so many amazing things that of course people are going to look at you and give you more attention,’ Son said. ‘But this is why I am here, to do better things and to learn something.

Son admitted to being disappointed by his performances so far this campaign for Tottenham

Son admitted to being disappointed by his performances so far this campaign for Tottenham

‘Obviously it was a tough first few games but this is the lesson. I am not 18 years old. I wish I was. But I have experienced enough in professional football teams. I had some bad periods and some amazing ones.

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‘Even when I had a good period I learned so many things. You know better than me that in the bad periods you learn so much. I’m doing it right now. It wasn’t that bad, but in these tough moments I had some lessons and really good people around me to help me.’

Son’s late treble cast a different complexion on the game. Leicester had taken an early lead through a twice-taken Youri Tielemans penalty, only to slip behind to goals scored by Harry Kane and Eric Dier from corners.

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Antonio Conte (right) has insisted that all players will get a chance after the international break

James Maddison levelled at 2-2 with a wonderful finish and the visitors were as creative in attack as they were fragile in defence.

Rodrigo Bentancur punished a mistake by Wilfred Ndidi to score his first Tottenham goal before Son came on to revel in space on the break as the game opened up amid Leicester’s desperate attempts to find a way back into it. 

Conte said: ‘I am pleased for Sonny. We can try to give an explanation if a player doesn’t score, but in the end the striker has to score because if he doesn’t the confidence goes down.

‘I am happy for him to change the game in this way, but I am especially happy for the team because we needed this and we are 17 points after seven games.’

Match stats

3 – Son Heung-min failed to scored from any of his first 17 shots this season — he then scored with three of his next four attempts on goal against Leicester. 

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17 – Tottenham’s 17 points from seven Premier League games this season is their joint-best record at this stage of a campaign. The last time they started as strongly they went on to finish second — behind only Antonio Conte’s Chelsea! 

Only 129 seconds separated Leicester’s first and Spurs’ equaliser.

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-3): Lloris 7.5; Sanchez 5 (Romero 59min, 6), Dier 6.5, Lenglet 6; Perisic 5.5 (Royal 55, 6.5), Hojbjerg 7, Bentancur 7.5, Sessegnon 6; Kulusevski 7 (Bissouma 70, 6.5), Kane 7, Richarlison 6 (Son 59, 8). 

Scorers: Kane 8, Dier 21, Bentancur 47, Son 73, 84, 88. 

Booked: Perisic. 

Manager: Antonio Conte 7.

Leicester City (4-3-1-2): Ward 5; Castagne 6, Evans 5, Faes 5, Justin 5; Ndidi 5 (Soumare 85), Tielemans 5, Dewsbury-Hall 6 (Iheanacho 74, 5); Maddison 7; Daka 6 (Vardy 74, 5), Barnes 5.5. 

Scorers: Tielemans 6 (pen), Maddison 42. 

Booked: Ndidi, Daka. 

Manager: Brendan Rodgers 6.

Referee: Simon Hooper 6.5. 

Attendance: 61,450.

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