Kane downs Dortmund as Spurs end Wembley woe
Harry Kane banished Tottenham Hotspur’s Wembley curse as the England striker’s double sealed a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener on Wednesday.
With White Hart Lane being redeveloped, Tottenham are playing their home matches at the English national stadium this season and that had been bad news for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
Already scarred by damaging Wembley defeats in the Champions League and FA Cup semi-finals last term, Tottenham had lost to Chelsea and drawn with Burnley this season, sparking alarmist talk that they were jinxed at the hallowed north London venue.
But, after losing eight of their previous 12 matches at Wembley, Kane’s predatory finishing ensured Tottenham finally enjoyed a night to remember in their temporary lodgings.
Son Heung-Min’s first goal of the season put Tottenham ahead early on and, although Andriy Yarmolenko conjured a sublime equaliser, it was the hosts who possessed the killer instinct thanks to Kane’s latest heroics.
The on-form Kane, who scored twice in Saturday’s win at Everton, restored Tottenham’s advantage before the interval and wrapped up the victory with his second goal after half-time.
Pitted in a tricky group that also includes holders Real Madrid, Tottenham’s commanding display secured only their third win in 13 Wembley appearances and gave them an early boost in the battle for a place in the knockout stages.
The only blemish for Tottenham was a late sending off for a second bookable offence for Jan Vertonghen, who swung his forearm into Mario Gotze’s face.
“It was so important to win, we are so happy. We increased our level in the second half and were very clinical,” Pochettino said.
“It is more than three points. The team is more mature now. We can learn a lot from this game. Harry Kane was fantastic.”
Dortmund arrived in London unbeaten so far this season, but their squad had been ravaged by injuries, with Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Schurrle and Marcel Schmelzer among the key players sidelined.
It took Tottenham just four minutes to expose the fault lines in Dortmund’s under-strength line-up as Son scored a fine individual goal.
Set free down the left flank, Son drove into the penalty area unchecked by Dortmund’s defence and, with goalkeeper Roman Burki failing to guard his near post, the South Korean smashed a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
If that seemed like the perfect way for Tottenham to banish their Wembley angst, the positives vibes lasted just seven minutes.
– Carbon copy –
When Yarmolenko played a one-two with Shinji Kagawa out on the right wing, there appeared little danger, but the Ukrainian darted onto the return pass and hit a superb curling effort over Hugo Lloris and into the far corner.
Yarmolenko’s bolt from the blue could have been a hammer blow for Tottenham, but they recovered their composure impressively and regained the lead in the 15th minute.
In a carbon copy of Tottenham’s first goal, Kane sprinted onto a long ball down the left wing, muscled his way into the area and slammed a perfectly-placed shot past Burki, who once again left his near post fatally exposed.
Dortmund hit back with a sustained period of pressure and ended the half frustrated after Christian Pulisic’s strike was disallowed for offside.
Pochettino’s men should have wrapped up the points immediately after the break when Kane and then Son fired over with only Burki to beat from the edge of the area.
Those glaring misses almost came back to haunt Spurs when Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang volleyed home at the far post, only to see his strike controversially erased by another offside flag.
But Kane ensured Tottenham would finally taste the winning feeling at Wembley as the England forward struck again with a clinical finish in the 60th minute.
Christian Eriksen’s pass found Kane unmarked 18 yards from goal and he punished Dortmund’s sloppy marking by drilling a low strike that deflected past Burki’s despairing dive.
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