Heung-min Son netted a brilliant double as Tottenham beat Preston 3-0 in the FA Cup despite the absence of Harry Kane, with new signing Arnaut Danjuma also scoring on debut.
The England captain stayed rooted to the bench at Deepdale after struggling with illness all week, the first time he has missed a game all season after 29 consecutive club starts as he waits to move past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ outright all-time leading goalscorer.
But it mattered little as Son boosted his confidence amid a poor season by his usual lofty standards with a fantastic second-half brace that broke the resolve of Championship side Preston, who conceded another late on as Danjuma swept home to cap off a lively cameo that showed a tantalising glimpse of what he could offer for the remainder of the campaign.
Antonio Conte made seven changes in total from the side that claimed a crucial 1-0 victory over Fulham in the Premier League on Monday night, with Craven Cottage match-winner Kane joined on the bench by Villarreal loanee Danjuma.
Only Rodrigo Bentancur, Son, Dejan Kulusevski and Ivan Perisic retained their starting berths in Lancashire, with the latter moved from wing-back into the front three with Kane not ready. Richarlison did not make the squad at all after an injury setback, with Hugo Lloris also given the night off after a rough few weeks.
Preston, meanwhile, showed two changes from their win second-tier win over Birmingham last weekend, with Spurs loanee Troy Parrott ineligible to face his parent club and Manchester City’s Liam Delap cup-tied. Ben Whiteman and Ched Evans came in as Ben Woodburn dropped to the bench.
The first half was a real war of attrition desperately short on quality, with Spurs dominating possession but unable to break down a disciplined and stubborn Preston rearguard.
The badly out-of-form Son looked livelier as he forced two strong saves from Freddie Woodman with efforts from outside the box, while Kulusevski was also denied by some expert last-ditch blocks.
Organised Preston had no forward threat whatsoever but went in at the interval fully content having done their defensive duty in diligent fashion.
But Spurs started the second half in more purposeful mood, moving the ball around with more pace and precision in search of an opening goal that came on 50 minutes - Son finding himself in a pocket of space and curling an unstoppable effort into the bottom corner from range.
A low-key game opened up after that stunner, with Preston rallying and Whiteman firing wide before Woodman had to push Perisic’s clever header over the top.
But the fight was taken out of the Championship side when Son received a pass inside the box from Perisic and took a touch before turning Jordan Storey and rifling in an emphatic second off the fingertips of Woodman.
Further gloss was added to the scoreline three minutes from time when Woodman - who snubbed Everton at the 11th hour to join Spurs in midweek - scuffed Kulusevski’s low cross into the bottom corner to complete a very satisfying evening for Conte.