Irrepressible Harry Kane finds a way at Wembley

Tottenham 2 PSV 1

Irrepressible Harry Kane finds a way at Wembley


By Gerry Cox

Tottenham finally won a Champions League game, to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds, but it took late goals from Harry Kane — who else? — to see them overcome a stubborn PSV Eindhoven.

The England star’s second came in the last minute but reignites the Londoners’ Champions League campaign.

“We could have been more clinical but we’ll just take a win in the Champions League. We had to dig deep and find another level when it mattered,” said Kane.

We have been grinding results out here and there all season. We are getting wins. Today was one of our best performances of the season.

Anything but victory would have meant Spurs could not finish above Inter and Barcelona, who drew 1-1 in Milan, but as has been the case too often in this campaign, Mauricio Pochettino’s men started disastrously.

Not for the first time they gave away a cheap early goal to leave themselves with an uphill battle. Steven Bergwijn and Hirving Lozano combined down the left to win a corner, and when Gaston Pereiro swung the ball into Tottenham’s penalty area, Luuk de Jong met it with a thumping header from 12 yards that gave Paulo Gazzaniga no chance. Only 63 seconds had elapsed, and at that stage Spurs were bottom of Group B and going out of the Champions League.

But they showed the character that has been questioned recently, and even with a depleted side they dominated the game and created chance after chance, only to be denied by an outstanding display from Jeroen Zoet.

Eindhoven’s goalkeeper was in inspired form, and needed to be as Spurs mounted wave after wave of attack. By contrast, Gazzaniga, the young Argentinian goalkeeper playing in place of the suspended Hugo Lloris, had little to do as Spurs battered the Dutch defence. But they kept coming up against Zoet, who was like the little Dutch boy of legend who stuck his finger in a dyke to keep flood waters at bay.

Dele Alli, recently returned from injury, gave Spurs an added spark in attack, but was denied twice in the space of eight minutes by Zoet. The first time Alli poked a forward pass for Christian Eriksen, whose first-time shot was blocked by the keeper’s legs. The rebound fell to Alli but Zoet stood up to push his shot away. Shortly afterwards, Alli ran on to a forward pass and placed his shot carefully to Zoet’s right, but the keeper got down well to palm it away.

Kane fared no better. A routine curling shot in the first half was held comfortably, but Zoet made another spectacular stop from close range.

Alli was not having much joy. A clever flick from a sixth-minute corner appeared destined for the roof of the net, but Jorrit Hendrix headed clear off the line. And at the same stage of the second half, his shot curled over the bar after an exchange of passes with Kane.

Spurs were not playing badly, but they could not turn their dominance into goals. Their patient build-up play created good crossing positions on both flanks, but the Dutch defenders dealt with everything thrown at them. Lucas Moura tried a more direct approach, twice running past two or three defenders into the heart of Eindhoven’s defence, but he could not get his shot away.

Mauricio Pochettino turned to his bench, at first sending on Erik Lamela to try to unlock the Dutch defence. When that did not work, he then sent on Kieran Trippier and Fernando Llorente, and finally Spurs made the breakthrough with 12 minutes to go. Eriksen floated a ball forward, Kane flicked on and Llorente played it back towards the England captain, who struck it firmly into the far corner from 14 yards. It set up a frantic finale, with Spurs pressing hard for the victory. But their relentless pressing forward left them exposed too, and Gazzaniga had to make a brilliant save to tip over a stinging shot from substitute Donyell Malen in the 82nd minute.

Llorente had a great chance moments later, but planted his header straight into the arms of Zoet, the game’s outstanding player. So it was with a touch of irony, not to say cruelty to the Dutch keeper, that it took a freak deflection to beat him when Kane scored again.

Ben Davies lofted in a deep cross from the left, Kane rose to head goalwards, and the ball took a wicked deflection off Trent Sainsbury to divert it past Zoet. Tough on the keeper but just reward for Pochettino and his team.

Spurs now face Inter at home and Barcelona away, and although it is a daunting task, maximum points will see them through.

Tottenham: Gazzaniga, Aurier (Trippier 75), Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies, Winks, Alli, Eriksen, Lucas Moura (Lamela 62), Kane, Son (Llorente 75).

Subs Not Used: Vorm, Walker-Peters, Sissoko, Skipp.

PSV: Zoet, Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angelino, Rosario, Pereiro (Malen 72), Hendrix, Lozano, de Jong (Sainsbury 80), Bergwijn (Gutierrez 86).

Subs Not Used: Room, Behich, Ramselaar, Junior.

Referee: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia).

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