Another Kane double sets Tottenham up nicely for Arsenal - and Zagreb return
Europa League Round of 16 first leg
Tottenham Hotspur (1) 2 Kane 25, 70
Dinamo Zagreb (0) 0
Two predatory goals from Harry Kane helped put Spurs in pole position to reach the Europa quarter-finals and gave them the ideal tonic ahead of Sunday’s north London derby.
It was Tottenham’s fifth win in a row and they are in good shape to tackle four away games in a row – including next week’s trip to Croatia for the return leg of this tie.
Kane hit a fabulous double in Sunday’s league win over Crystal Palace and he again looked hungry for goals – taking his season’s tally to 26 in all competitions.
He came off six minutes from time and briefly had an ice-pack applied to his right knee. The hope for all Spurs fans is that it is just a precautionary bit of house-keeping ahead of the visit to Arsenal.
Zagreb started impressively with some very aggressive front-foot football. Without creating clear openings, they circulated the ball at speed, were robust in their challenges and eager to get forward at every opportunity.
In the opening moments, Mislav Orsic might even have drawn blood had he not got stage fright after being presented to a clear run on goal, following a stray pass from Tanguy Ndombele.
But Kane steadied the ship by prodding home from close range after an Erik Lamela shot had pinged back off the inside of a post.
Lamela had darted into the heart of Dinamo’s defence after turning Lovro Majer to open up an inviting path to goal. The Argentine was denied by the post but Kane was on hand to finish it off.
Bruno Petkovic curled an effort straight at Hugo Lloris from outside the box as the Croatian outfit continued to play positively, but the opener helped settle Jose Mourinho’s side into a better rhythm and they forced the visitors to drop back as the first half progressed.
Having been stripped of the benefits of a home second leg because of a clash with the Gunners’ tie against Olympiakos, the need to press on and increase the lead was obvious and they might have got a boost of a second goal from the spot early in the second half when Ndombele was felled by Majer. The penalty appeals were waved away.
Petkovic had a good chance to draw Zagreb level when a well-weighted pass in from the right from Luka Ivanusec picked him out at the far post, but the shot ruffled the side-netting.
Mourinho had seen enough and made a triple substitution to try and inject greater urgency and it did not take too long for it to pay off, as a volleyed cross from Serge Aurier was miscued by Zagreb defender Kevin Theophile-Catherine – straight to the one player he did not want to gift a pass to.
There was Kane, ready to pounce again, and he sidestepped his man before passing the ball calmly into the bottom corner.
Gareth Bale – one of the trio coming on just past the hour – almost added to his weekend double with an eye-catching free-kick from distance which needed tipping over by Dominik Livakovic in the Dinamo goal. The winger also came close to nudging home a low cross from Carlos Vinicius at the far post.
But Spurs had to make do with the two, rather than three, which would surely have made their second leg task that much more straight forward. The clean sheet could prove crucial.
Spurs: Lloris – Aurier, Dier, Sanchez, Davies – Sissoko, Ndombele (Hojbjerg 72) – Lamela (Bale 64), Alli (Lucas Moura 64), Son (Bergwijn 64) – Kane (Vinicius 84). Subs not used: Doherty, Reguilon, Alderweireld, Hojbjerg, Winks, Hart, Tanganga, Whiteman
Dinamo: Livakovic – Ristovski, Lauritsen, Theophile-Catherine, Leovac – Majer (Kastrati 64), Jakic, Ademi (Franjic 90), Ivanusec – Petkovic (Gavranovic 78), Orsic (Atiemwen 64). Subs not used: Zagorac, Cabraja, Tolic, Burton, Misic, Stojanovic, Peric