Harry Kane knocks out Portsmouth and edges closer to Tottenham record goal | FA Cup

When Harry Kane set himself on the edge of the area, to the left of centre, instantly making the calculations, slowing down his pulse, there was the sense that everybody inside the stadium knew what was going to happen. All eyes went to the far corner of the Portsmouth net. The ball duly followed.

It was on this day in 1970 that Jimmy Greaves scored his 265th goal for Tottenham in an FA Cup win over Bradford. This was No 265 for Kane and, more significantly, it moved him to within one goal of Greaves’ all-time club record.

Kane’s 50th minute finish followed by a slick one-two with Ryan Sessegnon and a dart away from Joe Morrell. It was the highlight of a third-round tie in which Spurs eased clear in the second-half, having flattered to deceive up until the interval.

Portsmouth are in the grip of crisis, having sacked the manager, Danny Cowley, on Monday after a run of one win in 14 League One games. The decision was taken in a desperate bid to rekindle the promotion dream. Under the caretaker, Simon Bassey, they did as well as they could have reasonably expected but the gulf in class was too much.

Kane now has 17 goals for the season. Spurs’s next game is the derby here against Arsenal next Sunday, which would be some time for him to surpass Greaves. They had not lost at home to lower-league opposition in the FA Cup since 1975, when Nottingham Forest – managed by one B Clough – upset them. Thanks to Kane, the sequence wouldn’t be in jeopardy.

Portsmouth had been determined to seize the day, to make light of the turmoil that has enveloped them. The 9,000 traveling fans were in full voice, the Pompey Chimes ringing out, and they were encouraged by what they saw in the first-half, not least an early hooked volley from Reeco Hackett-Fairchild that forced Fraser Forster to push behind.

Harry Kane is congratulated by his Tottenham teammates after scoring his 265th goal for the club.
Harry Kane is congratulated by his Tottenham teammates after scoring his 265th goal for the club. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

Antonio Conte heard the home crowd bellow his name in the 12th minute, which they followed with a quieter chorus about how they wanted Daniel Levy out. It is the tension that stalks the club; the love for the manager versus the frustration with the chairman.

Spurs were one-paced and predictable before half-time, Conte’s much-changed team struggling to pull apart the visitors’ five-man backline, which was protected by a disciplined midfield three. Bassey had surely highlighted Spurs’ threat on the counter. The key for his team would be to maintain shape and men behind the ball, to be quick and sharp when playing out.

Spurs dodged the traditional interval booing in times of struggle but only just. The onus was always going to be on them to make things happen and they failed to do so in the opening 45 minutes.

Their best moment followed a Kane free-kick, which he drilled into the wall. On the rebound, he fed Sessegnon, who crossed for Davinson Sánchez. His header, on the stretch, was off target. Kane also swiped at a loose ball following a corner, Denver Hume blocking, while Son Heung-min shaped a curler wide.

Spurs had to wake up in the second half. They did. Straight away, there was greater urgency, sharper interchanges. Emerson Royal soared at the far post to plant a header from Son’s cross back towards the far corner. He was denied by the inside of the post. Then Kane took over.

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    According to Conte’s assistant, Cristian Stellini, it had been “compulsory” to pick Kane, even though the centre-forward had started in each of the club’s previous 26 games this season. Plus all of England’s seven. Injury problems elsewhere in the frontline had played a part. But so did Kane’s desire, his remorselessness. He just never wants to stand down.

    Portsmouth had started to look a little leggy towards the end of the first-half and, at 1-0 down, the task felt beyond them. They could barely get out in the second half, with Spurs pushing high and Bryan Gil buzzing to good effect. It should have been more for Spurs but Oliver Skipp blazed over the crossbar after Gil had put a fizzed Kane pass on a plate for him.

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