Tottenham Hotspur cruised into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 7-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Despite being level after 40 minutes, Spurs netted seven times before the 80th minute, including a second-half hat-trick for Fernando Llorente and goals either side of the interval from Serge Aurier.
Heung-Min Son and substitute Harry Kane completed the scoring, who have both been in a fine flurry of form for the Premier League title chasers.
Visitors Spurs had made eight changes from the side that beat Cardiff City 3-0 on New Year’s Day, which saw young prospects Oliver Skipp, Kyle Walker-Pieters and Juan Foyth all feature in the starting side. At the same time, their side still included the world-class talents of Son and Dele Alli.
Just seven minutes in, South Korean international Son, who will be linking up with his national side later this month for the Asian Cup was sent clear through on goal for the visitors, but his side-footed effort failed to test home goalkeeper Scott Davies.
Son was again involved in a big chance for Spurs early on when he teed up Brazilian winger Lucas Moura, only for his trickling strike to roll comfortably towards Davies.
Tranmere striker James Norwood had the hosts’ first real chance of the match midway through the first half. Norwood, who has already netted 17 goals in all competitions this season, was unable to steer his attempt from an acute angle on target.
Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga was called into action shortly before half-time when Emmanuel Monthe’s ferocious header from a corner forced the Argentine stopper into a save.
Ivorian full-back Aurier was the man to break the deadlock with five minutes to go before half-time for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. After Foyth dispossessed Norwood, the defender strolled through before firing a superb strike into the top corner, his first for the club since March 2018.
The Premier League side doubled their advantage shortly after the interval, Son was at the heart of the attack and after bombing down the right side, his pass teed up Spaniard Llorente, who was on hand to slot home his first goal since his side’s Halloween win over West Ham United in the Carabao Cup.
Mellon’s side almost got back into the cup tie within moments from a long ball being bundled into the penalty area, only for Aurier’s superb block denying Harvey Gilmour’s chance.
Their chances, however, dwindled when Aurier added his second of the night 10 minutes into the second half and only his fourth for Spurs since signing for them. Some sublime skill from Son prior to his pass to the right found the run of Aurier, whose strike gave the hosts a three-goal lead, despite the best efforts of the oncoming defender, Mark Ellis.
Spurs’ travelling fans were still celebrating Aurier’s second when Son added their fourth of the night, converting at the end of an excellent solo run, his seventh goal in the space of six matches.
Pochettino’s side failed to stop at four, a fantastic through pass by young midfielder Oliver Skipp found Llorente, who stroked the ball past Davies.
Less than a minute after getting his second, Llorente completed his hat-trick with a deft touch on the end of Lucas’ low cross, his second in this competition in as many seasons.
To make matters worse, Pochettino then introduced England captain Kane as a substitute in place of Llorente, who took just seven minutes before adding to the scoresheet with a delicate chip.