Football: ‘Instinct’ helps Kane equal Greaves record and gives Spurs win

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane (centre) is now tied with Jimmy Greaves as the club's topscorer in all competitions with 266 goals. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON – Harry Kane moved level with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham Hotspur’s record scorer as his 266th goal for the club sealed a vital 1-0 win against Fulham on Monday.

Kane netted on the stroke of half-time with a clinical strike from the edge of the penalty area at Craven Cottage.

Greaves’ Tottenham record had stood since 1970, but Kane’s first goal in his last three appearances gave him a share of the historic milestone.

“I was just trying to get myself into a position where I can get half a yard. I used the defender to bend it around him. It was a nice goal,” said the England captain.

“I have been playing football long enough now to know where the goal is. It is just instinct.”

Kane could break Greaves’ record in Tottenham’s next match in the FA Cup fourth round at second-tier Preston North End on Saturday.

Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher said on Sky Sports: “Year after year he delivers. We see him every year getting 25-30 goals a season.

“When you think about the absolute greats, he is one of the greatest. He will go down as Tottenham’s greatest ever player.”

Ex-Manchester United and England fullback Gary Neville added: “He is the most reliable of finishers. Alan Shearer was an unbelievable finisher, and the thing for me was his mentality, and I think Kane has that same mentality. 

“That is the biggest compliment I can give.”

It is only a matter of time before Kane, 29, takes sole possession of Tottenham’s most hallowed record.

That remarkable achievement would have seemed impossible during a difficult start to his career that featured several failed loan spells before he finally emerged as a star.

Greaves, who died aged 81 in 2021, is regarded as one of the most natural goalscorers in football history.

A key member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad at home, Greaves netted 44 times for his country in just 57 appearances and is the highest scorer in English top-flight history with 357 goals.

For Kane to be alongside such a legendary player is a tribute to his predatory instincts and his perseverance.

He is now one strike short of becoming the third player to net 200 English Premier League goals, after Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208).

Kane also drew level with Rooney as England’s joint-record goalscorer after bagging his 53rd international goal in the World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in December.

“We are talking about Harry Kane as a special player and special person.... which is very important,” Tottenham manager Antonio Conte said.

“I want to underline that Harry played with a fever. He was not so good but he wanted to play because he understood the moment, he understood that he is a point of reference for us.

“The important thing is to have a good man because in difficulty, Kane will help you to overcome a difficult situation.”

Thanks to Kane’s 18th goal in all competitions this season, fifth-placed Tottenham closed the gap on fourth-placed Manchester United to three points.

It was a much-needed result after successive losses to Manchester City and Arsenal damaged Tottenham’s bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.

Conte’s team had conceded 21 goals in their previous 10 league matches.

So, while Kane rightly took the spotlight, the Italian was just as pleased by his players’ defensive resilience.

“It was a big win. I had a good answer from my players. I asked them for solidity of the last season and the will and desire to fight and to be resilient,” Conte said.

Hugo Lloris has made a number of costly mistakes this season, but Tottenham’s keeper was equal to Andreas Pereira’s free-kick.

Fulham should have taken the lead when Pereira whipped a cross towards Harrison Reed, whose volley was straight at Lloris from eight yards.

With Tottenham struggling to stem the Fulham tide of attacks, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s header from Kenny Tete’s cross flashed just wide.

Fulham winger Willian went close to breaking the deadlock just before half-time with a stinging strike that Lloris pushed away.

Failing to turn the pressure into goals proved fatal for Fulham as Kane entered the record books in first half stoppage-time.

Turning on the edge of the Fulham area, Kane worked a yard of space before curling a superb strike past Bernd Leno.

The record-equalling goal was met with sarcastic chants of ‘one-season wonder’ from Tottenham fans, who recalled the doubting response to his first prolific season for the club.

Kane almost had the outright record in the second half, but Leno tipped over his close-range header.

AFP

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