Harry Kane central to Tottenham’s chances in Juventus clash

Harry Kane celebrating his goal in Turin in the first-leg against Juventus. (AFP)
Updated 06 March 2018
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Harry Kane central to Tottenham’s chances in Juventus clash

LONDON: A little over a year ago, Tottenham drew 2-2 at Wembley against the Belgian side Gent. It might have been their lowest moment under Mauricio Pochettino. Dele Alli was sent off for a spiteful lunge and they never looked like getting the better of limited opponents who had won the first leg 1-0. Tottenham had gone out of the Europa League in the last 32 and two mighty narratives were in full flow: Tottenham couldn’t play in Europe and they couldn’t play at Wembley.
Since then they have won 17 and lost just two of 23 matches they have played at the national stadium, having moved in full-time while White Hart Lane is rebuilt. They have beaten Borussia Dortmund home and away, taken four points off Real Madrid and come from 2-0 down to draw away to Juventus. Their progress has been spectacular.
This, perhaps, is Tottenham’s greatest strength. They may not have the budget of other top-six clubs, and they may live in constant fear of their squad being scattered by richer rivals, but they learn faster than anybody else.
At the heart of both the team and that ethos is Harry Kane. He is the Premier League’s joint top-scorer with 24 goals this season and averages 5.8 shots per game, 1.8 more than anybody else in the league.
Any suggestion he is selfish, though, could not be more wrong, as his remarkable hanging cross for Son Heung-min on Saturday demonstrated.
He himself has said that he regards his performances against Madrid, when he did not score but worked tirelessly to hold the ball up, as his best of the season.
“I think, he is very good not only at scoring goals but linking, assisting, working for the team,” Pochettino said at the weekend. “I think he is a great player. Of course, you need a good mentality and willingness to work. What the offensive players like is to have the ball and shoot and score goals, and then when they need to work and run in behind to the ball and try to chase the opponent, put pressure on, that is the more difficult part to teach, to make them available to run for the team.”
Nobody in the Premier League needs any convincing of Kane’s excellence but the next stage for him is a truly dominant performance either in a big game for England or in a Champions League knockout match.
His display in Turin came close as he harried Juventus constantly in possession, posed a persistent threat and, having been thwarted by one remarkable save from Gianluigi Buffon, took his goal with great style, banging his finish authoritatively into an empty net, even though the act of taking the ball round the goalkeeper forced him wide.
Kane is well aware of the strides Spurs have made this season, particularly in Europe where they have shown they can play a patient game if needed. “We made a big step in that respect by what we did in the group stage,” he said, “and now we have got to try and do it against the big teams consistently.”
Given how Juventus wobbled in the face of Tottenham’s pressing, though, it would be a surprise if they sat off at Wembley. This is a chance for one of the great nights in the club’s history, a great step in the development both of Tottenham and Kane.


Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

Updated 18 min 16 sec ago
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Tearful Louis Oosthuizen claims South African Open crown on home soil

JOHANNESBURG: Louis Oosthuizen had endured a 33-month winless run since winning the Perth International back in February 2016, but he ended it by lifting the South African Open trophy for the first time Sunday after a six-shot victory in Johannesburg.
The 36-year-old South African closed at the Randpark Golf Club with a four-under-par 67, shrugging off a poor start to hole an eagle on 14 and finish well clear of runner-up Romain Langasque from France.
Schedule clashes meant Oosthuizen was playing in the South African Open for the first time since 2010 and he wept after clinching an ultimately comfortable victory.
“This is a very special victory for me as I become only the sixth golfer to win the two oldest national golf championships, the Open and the South African Open.
“I wish the family was here,” a tearful Oosthuizen said on the 18th green. “The crowd was great this whole week, it was nice to do it for them.”
Fellow South Africans Ernie Els, Bobby Locke and Gary Player, Swede Henrik Stenson and New Zealander Bob Charles previously achieved the ‘double’.
“I did not start well today, scrambling a par at one and dropping shots at two and three before recovering with four birdies to turn two under for the round.
“For the second successive round I struggled off the tee early on and had to bite the bullet before coming good as the round progressed.
“While realizing that I was building a good lead, it was not until 14 that I could relax a little bit.
“My nine-iron second at that par-five hole was a perfect shot, leaving me with a short putt for an eagle.”
Oosthuizen opened with a 62 for the first-round lead, but trailed fellow South African Charl Schwartzel by two shots at the halfway mark having carded a 70.
A third-round 67 gave him a three-stroke advantage and the expected final-round challenges from Schwartzel and in-form Matt Wallace of England never materialized.
Instead, Langasque, who trailed Oosthuizen by seven shots after three rounds, fired a five-under 66 that included an eagle and five birdies to surge into second spot.
Major winner Schwartzel closed with a 72 to share third place with compatriots Thomas Aiken and Bruce Easton and Oliver Wilson from England.
Langasque’s closing 66 earned him one of three spots available for the Open Championship at Royal Portrush Golf Club in 2019, with 2011 Masters Tournament winner Schwartzel and Wilson claiming the other two spots up for grabs.