Football Features

Kaiser Kane top of Europe as Bayern’s trophy hunt continues in Champions League

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:10, 5 March 2024

Harry Kane’s hunt for a first trophy continues as he scored twice in Bayern Munich’s 3-0 Champions League win over Lazio.

Despite all the goals he has scored, there are still some who discount Kane’s ability because he hasn’t been able to lift a trophy. Everyone expected the long wait to be over this season as he said goodbye to Tottenham Hotspur and joined serial winners Bayern Munich.

Kane had the chance to win a trophy in his very first game, but Bayern lost the DFL-Supercup 3-0 to RB Leipzig, almost immediately leading to memes about the Englishman being cursed. And there was a chance that he might have been.

This was a Bayern team that haven’t failed to win the Bundesliga since 2010/11, lifting the trophy in 11 consecutive seasons. They went extremely close to not winning it last season, only claiming the title thanks to Borussia Dortmund’s collapse on the final day. But, Bayern still lifted the trophy.

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However, their title defence is pretty much over. Only a monumental collapse from Bayer Leverkusen will hand Bayern a route back into the title race, with the defending champions now 10 points off top with 10 games left to play. Bayern are also out of the DFB-Pokal, shocked in the second round by third-tier FC Saarbrucken.

So the Champions League remains their only hope for success, thus avoiding a first season without lifting a trophy since 2010/11. But they were flirting with an exit in the last 16. Bayern haven’t failed to qualify from the last 16 since 2018/19 – in fact, they’ve only fallen at this hurdle four times this century, with 24 appearances in total.

Bayern were poor in the first leg against Lazio, even when you consider they were down to 10 men for just over 20 minutes. They had 17 shots in total but did not hit the target once, with an xG of 1.1. Ciro Immobile scored from the spot (as a result of Upamecano’s red-card foul), and Bayern had an uphill battle.

It could have been worse for Bayern too, had Immobile put away his chance in the first half of the second leg, missing an opportunity from close range to put Lazio 2-0 up in the tie. And then Bayern, and Kane, struck. It was an instinctive finish from Kane, who got his head onto Raphael Guerreiro’s mishit effort.

In reality, Kane hadn’t been in the first half at all, with just seven touches in the opening 30 minutes. But we all know that is the sign of a good striker, able to score when they’re not playing well.

“If you look at his performance all-round, you’d say he was quite anonymous for most of the game,” former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand told TNT Sports. “But this is the true mark of a great goalscorer.

“They don’t have to be in the game all the time, they don’t have to be in the rhythm of the game for big parts of the game. It’s just being in the right positions and the right times. And when that chance comes, having the awareness, having the ability to execute at that given moment and stay cool and calm with the pressure that’s mounting with each minute passing through the game.

“This is what he’s done all his career, all his life. That’s why he’s scored so many goals, so regularly.”

The 75th headed goal of his career, Kane’s tally for the season went up to 32 across all competitions. Adding eight assists, Kane was the second player in Europe’s big five leagues to have been directly involved in 40 goals across all competitions this season. His competitor was Kylian Mbappe, who had hit 40 on the same night, scoring for PSG against Real Sociedad.

Kane also became just the third English player to score in the knockout stages of the Champions League for a non-English club, joining Steven McManaman with Real Madrid in 2000 and 2002, and Jude Bellingham with Borussia Dortmund in 2021. By half time, Bayern were ahead in the tie, as Thomas Muller headed home from close range after Matthijs de Ligt’s volley.

With Bayern in control, there was time for Kane to get his second on the night, again from close range after Leroy Sane’s shot could only be pushed into his path by the goalkeeper. But, it was another strike to match Mbappe, who had also got his second against Real Sociedad — the pair remain on 41 direct goal involvements this season, at the top of Europe.

This season is already the joint-third best of Kane’s career when it comes to goals, tying the 33 he netted in the 2020/21 campaign. He has moved one clear of his total tally for last season and there is every chance this could be his best ever campaign.

With two more goals, Kane will match the 35 he netted in 2016/17 to help Tottenham finish second in the Premier League. A year later, Kane broke the 40 mark for the one and only time in his career so far, netting 41 in total. With at least 12 games left to play, Kane will fancy his chances.