Harry Kane hit his 25th and 26th goals of the season as Tottenham eased to a comfortable 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of round of 16 Europa League tie.
The hosts made a tenative start with Dinamo – who have never won on eight previous visits to England – offered two early sightings on Hugo Lloris’ net.
Spurs were soon in their stride though, with Dele Alli and Heung-min Son looking to pull the strings.
However, the opening goal came after 25 minutes after artistry by Erik Lamela. The Argentine, picking up the ball abour 40 yard from goal, embarked on a mazy run, only to see his shot cannon off the inside of the post. That fell nicely to Kane, who calmy fired into an unguarded net.
It was his 25th goal of the season – more than he managed in 2018/19 and 2019/20.
Spurs went hunting for a second, but the visitors held firm thanks to a tightly-packed defence.
Jose Mourinho’s side did make a bright start to the second period as they went in search of a second. That almost arrived when a smart move saw Kane pull the ball back across goal, only for Zagreb to scramble the ball clear.
There was a worry for Spurs though when Tanguy Ndombele went down under a heavy challenge. The Frenchman was OK to continue, however, after undergoing treatment.
Zagreb did engineer a rare chance on Spurs’ goal. A fine ball played across found Bruno Petkovic in space but he couldn’t keep his shot on target.
Just after the hour mark, Spurs made a triple change, with Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Steven Berwijn on for Lamela, Son and Alli.
And Bale almost worked some instant magic, carving out a chance for Berwijn, with the Dutchman’s volley going close.
Kane at the double
You just CANNOT make mistakes like that around Harry Kane! 😤
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2021
However, the second did arrive in the 69th minute. Ndombele’s cross-field pass picked out Serge Aurier, whose first-time cross caused panic in the Zagreb defence. The ball found its way out to Kane, who worked a yard of space before drilling low into the net.
Spurs went fishing for a third to make the game – and possibly the tie – safe.
Bale almost found it with a viciously-dipping free-kick that was well saved by Domink Livakovic.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg then collected a caution that rules him out of next week’s second leg.
However, with Spurs taking a decent lead to Croatia, that will give Mourinho a chance to shuffle his pack amid a busy schedule of games.