Harry Kane’s meteoric rise sees him match Messi and Ronaldo

Updated 30 December 2017

Harry Kane’s meteoric rise sees him match Messi and Ronaldo

LONDON: It was almost exactly three years ago, on New Year’s Day 2015, that Harry Kane finally began to be taken seriously, scoring twice and playing with an unexpected menace as Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-3. It is fair to say that even at that point, nobody imagined that three years later Kane would be outstripping Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Nobody, of course, is saying that he is a better player than either Messi or Ronaldo — although his club manager Mauricio Pochettino continues to insist that he belongs in the same bracket. And statistics that deal with a calendar year always seem a little forced in football. Who, after all, knew that Alan Shearer held the record for most Premier League goals in a calendar year before Kane took his record with the hat-trick against Southampton on Boxing Day?

But still, to score 56 goals in 2017, to outstrip both Messi and Ronaldo and end seven years of domination by the eternal duo, is a remarkable achievement which suggests just how extraordinary Kane’s goalscoring this year has been. To hit eight hattricks in a 12-month spell, six of them in the league, is a level of performance beyond reason. Already, aged just 24, he is tenth on the all-time list of Tottenham goalscorers.

What is most inexplicable is that it is so hard to pinpoint what makes Kane good. The reaction after that New Year’s Day game against Chelsea was a mixture of skepticism and amusement. Kane had scored three goals in six league games the previous season and had been prolific in the Europa League but still, nobody was convinced.

He was almost flamboyantly ordinary. He did not look like a star. His appearance was of a minor RAF officer in a Second World War film, doomed to be tragically shot down on his final mission before a spell of extended leave. He was not noticeably quick. He was not noticeably tall. He was not noticeably powerful. He did not take the breath away with his close technical skill. He was not dominant in the air. He is still none of those things. And yet, as the months have gone by and his goalscoring has continued unabated — apart from his odd inability to score in August — it has become apparent that he is very special indeed.

What has become apparent is that Kane has an astonishing football brain. Rather than being exceptional at any one striker’s attribute, he is quite good at all of them. But what makes him truly dangerous is his reading of the game, his capacity to find space, his instincts for what to do in any give situation. The goal with which he completed his hat-trick against Southampton on Boxing Day was typical as he delayed his shot, letting the ball keep rolling, taking him beyond Maya Yoshida’s stretch and persuading Fraser Forster to commit himself before dinking the ball over him.

But to say that decision-making capacity is an instinct perhaps does Kane a disservice. It is to an extent innate and there are others who will never have his clarity of vision, but it is also something he has strived to improve. It is not just that he works hard; it is that he is inquisitive and open to new ideas about how to improve. A year ago he decided he could be fitter, and on Jan. 1 appointed a nutritionist who lives in his family home six days a week ensuring his diet is as good as it can be. His added strength and sharpness this season — as seen best, perhaps, in his burst through the Borussia Dortmund defense to score in the Champions League — is probably in part the result of that.

On afternoons off, he works on his finishing. For a long time he focused on low hard strikes with his right foot. Then, Spurs’ Under-15 coach Bradley Allen asked why he always came onto his right side. In the summer, Kane began to work on scoring with his left foot: eight of his 18 Premier League goals this season have been scored with his left.

Kane may not catch the eye like Messi and Ronaldo, but his relentless desire for self-improvement has turned him into a staggeringly successful player.

Harry Kane’s goal tally

2013-2014: 19 appearances — 4 goals
2014-2015: 51 appearances — 31 goals
2015-2016: 50 appearances — 28 goals
2016-2017: 38 appearances — 35 goals

Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

Updated 21 May 2019

Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

  • The two-time defending NBA champions reach the title series for a fifth consecutive season
  • The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both posted triple-doubles to power the Golden State Warriors to a 119-117 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and into a fifth straight NBA Finals.
The two-time defending NBA champions reached the title series for a fifth consecutive season with the triumph in Portland, sweeping the Blazers in four games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics, when they went to a record 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966.
The Warriors will battle for the title starting on May 30 against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors, aiming to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000, 2001 and 2002 to three-peat as champions.
Curry and Green became the first teammates in league history to have triple-doubles in the same post-season game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had his second straight triple-double — posting double digits in three key statistical categories — with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Fittingly, Curry and Green combined on the game-winning basket in overtime, Curry feeding Green for a three-pointer that pushed Golden State to a 119-115 lead with 39.6 seconds left in overtime.
The Trail Blazers had led 69-65 at halftime, and built the lead to 17 in the third quarter.
But Golden State, playing without injured superstar Kevin Durant as well as DeMarcus Cousins and veteran Andre Iguodala, chipped away, scoring the last nine points of the third period to close within 95-87 and knotting the score at 104-104 on Curry’s layup with 4:34 left in regulation.
Both teams had a chance to win in regulation, but Curry traveled before draining a three-pointer that didn’t count and Lillard was unable to get through in traffic as time expired with the score tied 111-111.
Portland star Lillard, playing with painful separated ribs, finished with 28 points while unheralded Meyers Leonard led the Trail Blazers with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
CJ McCollum added 26 for the Trail Blazers, but it wasn’t enough for a team that had fended off elimination twice in their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets.