Harry Kane’s hat-trick in Tottenham’s 3-0 win over APOEL in Nicosia means he is currently the Champions League’s top scorer this season with five goals. Doing it in this competition is underlining his world-class credentials, writes Adam Bate.
Sometimes it is the stage that is significant not the quality of the opposition. After all, Harry Kane has already scored against Manchester United and Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton. He has struck against Germany and France for his country too, so nobody will be too surprised to see him putting three past the champions of Cyprus.
But doing it in the Champions League matters. This is the competition in which Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi set themselves apart from the rest. It is the stage that elevates the best and not just because they deliver against the best. Punishing poor opponents is all part of the show and those two players have done that like nobody before them.
One or both of Ronaldo and Messi have topped the Champions League scoring charts in each of the past 10 seasons. It is a remarkable achievement and a testament to their decade of consistency. But Kane’s own relentlessness in front of goal means that the iconic duo may yet have a new challenger this time around.
After scoring twice against Borussia Dortmund in Tottenham’s opener, Kane produced the ‘perfect hat-trick’ against APOEL. The first was struck beyond the goalkeeper with his left foot. The second was swept into the corner of the net with his right. When Kieran Trippier curled in the cross for the third, he headed it home. Three chances and three goals.
Incredibly, it is Kane’s sixth hat-trick of the calendar year and takes him to five for the season in the Champions League after only two matches. That is enough to put him at the top of the pile at this stage, one ahead of Ronaldo, whose Real Madrid side Kane will face home and away in Tottenham’s next two European fixtures.
Of course, the defending champions will prove a much sterner test. But whoever comes out on top in that challenge, Kane has already eclipsed the achievements of any of his compatriots so far this decade. The last English player to score in four consecutive games in Europe’s premier club competition was the now retired Steven Gerrard.
Kane has also overhauled the tallies of the top English goalscorer in the Champions League in each of the past seven seasons. Wayne Rooney managed five in seven appearances in the 2009/10 campaign prior to that. Kane will have ample opportunity to go beyond that. Perhaps this will be the season that he surpasses everyone else too.