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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Harry Kane: Tottenham's derby king again proves his elite-level status at West Ham

Spurs striker scored twice in the 3-2 win against their London rivals on Saturday.

Harry Kane scored Tottenham's first two goals in the 3-2 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium. Eddie Keogh / Reuters
Harry Kane scored Tottenham's first two goals in the 3-2 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium. Eddie Keogh / Reuters

Harry Kane struck twice in quick succession, another double in another London derby.

Only the post denied the Tottenham Hotspur striker a hat-trick against West Ham United on Saturday, robbing him of a seventh Premier League treble in his three-and-a-bit seasons with Spurs. The two previous campaigns concluded with the Golden Boot.

At West Ham, Kane found the woodwork for the fourth and fifth time this season. His first effort eventually led to Christian Eriksen’s goal. Spurs were three to the good. It gave them enough of a cushion at the London Stadium to survive Serge Aurier’s red card and a late West Ham fight-back. They won a typically feisty encounter 3-2. Kane’s contribution was crucial.

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His two goals took his Premier League derby tally to 21 in 29 games. It lifted Kane beyond Thierry Henry for the best minutes-per-goal in London derbies of any player to score 10 goals or more. On average, he notches every 112 minutes.

A Tottenham boy through and through – “one of their own” – evidently Kane thrives against the locals, reaping capital gains from the fixtures that feel like they matter most.

In 2015, he marked the New Year by scoring twice to inspire Spurs to a 5-3 victory against Chelsea. The following month, he claimed both in the 2-1 win against Arsenal. Last season, he registered home and away against their great city rivals.

If conventional wisdom dictates that too many derbies puts too much strain on London clubs, Kane carries the burden well. With two goals on Saturday, he now has seven against West Ham since the 2014/15 season. No one has scored more.

His manager could barely contain his admiration. Often warning that he struggles to find new superlatives for Kane, Mauricio Pochettino said simply: “I am in love with him.”

The affection is easy to understand. As Pochettino explained, Kane is not only a master marksman – “one of the best in the world" – but a model professional, too. He embodies the Argentine's managerial mantra, an obvious representation on the pitch of what Pochettino demands off it.

With Tottenham down to 10 men midway through the second half, Kane covered ground and closed space. He occupied the home team’s defence. He sparked attacks wherever he could. Visibly exhausted, he was substituted with one minute to go.

But, then, that is Kane. Always busy, always bustling, yet still a forward with a critically calm composure when between the whites of the post. His August angst now passed, he has eight goals this month for club and country.

With clear title intent, Tottenham have an elite-level striker at their tip. A side struggling at their temporary home have therefore been flourishing on the road. Kane’s double helped Spurs to a third successive away win in the league, the first time they have opened a campaign in such fashion since the 1991/92 season.

Kane’s input in those has been pivotal, although in Eriksen and Dele Alli he finds more than capable support. Alli assisted Kane for his first, a pinpoint cross that prompted a bullet header. It was another example of the pair’s blossoming partnership: 11 of Alli’s 17 Premier League assists have been for Kane.

Eriksen, meanwhile, moved to 33 Premier League goals, making him the highest-scoring Dane in the league's history. Tottenham’s big three had combined to make it three big wins away from Wembley. Kane has 11 goals in his past five away league fixtures alone.

Even with Eriksen and Alli close at hand, the England international remains the razor-sharp edge to an attack that scored more league goals than any other team last season. His derby double not only gave Spurs a vital victory, but it provided a fitting end to a week in which Kane was named a nominee for Fifa/FIFPro's World XI.

Containing 55 players, the roll of honour is admittedly lengthy, but Kane was the only Englishman present. Some question the list's legitimacy, yet it is proof that recognition has come, finally, from beyond familiar borders.

Perhaps belatedly, the local boy who excels in local fixtures has become a global name.