Tottenham’s top scorer could not find the decisive finishing touch at the Bernabéu but still made an impact that demonstrates how far he has come
A backheel at the Bernabéu. Well, that’s quite a baptism. Or it would have been if, as most of this stadium first thought, it had actually happened. The replay told a different story, but it was Harry Kane the Tottenham Hotspur players ran towards as the ball settled in Keylor Navas’s net, giving them the lead just before the half-hour. The problem was that at the end of it all, it was also Harry Kane they sought out, Hugo Lloris putting an arm around his shoulder and walking him to the touchline. This was an excellent result, celebrated by supporters, but it could have been even better and Kane’s face told a tale of opportunity lost.
Mauricio Pochettino admits that he is forever giving Kane videos, endless clips of moments in games, things to correct, improve and learn from. He won’t need to hand over footage of what happened here in the 71st minute for Kane to replay it over in his mind, when he stood alone before goal, the kind of opportunity he would have dreamed of, but saw Navas save his shot. Nor, he will be sure, will this moment sink him; it may even propel the striker to more. The manager has, after all, described him as “the best player in the world in terms of mental strength, willpower and endeavour”. That doesn’t make it painless, though, not least as this was set up as his night. When Fernando Llorente found him with 19 minutes remaining it really could have been.