NOTTINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Harry Kane missed a penalty but scored twice to surpass 200 league goals in his career and give Tottenham Hotspur a 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest that kept up their strong start to the Premier League season.
Forest, who have signed 17 players for about 150 million pounds ($176 million) since promotion, made the early running before Spurs’ prolific striker silenced the crowd with a low fifth minute strike from inside the penalty area.
His scuffed goal, after a superb run and pass by Dejan Kulusevski, was Kane’s 200th league goal.
It was to get better for Kane in the second half when he scored a close-range header from a sumptuous outside-of-the-boot cross by Richarlison in the 81st minute.
That was the England forward’s 187th Premier League goal, adding to nine in the Championship and five in League One.
In between, Kane uncharacteristically missed a penalty following a handball on the line by Forest’s Steve Cook. Kane’s shot was brilliantly saved by Dean Henderson at full-stretch, making up for his failure to stop the first-half goal.
Spurs’ third victory in four games, plus one draw, left them third in the Premier League on 10 points – two behind north London rivals Arsenal who have had a flawless start.
Kane acknowledged the pressure Forest put them under for long periods and said Spurs had plenty of room for improvement despite their impressive string of results.
“We’ve had a great pre-season, we’re feeling fit but we’re not quite showing it yet. We are still winning games and becoming stronger as the game goes on,” he said.
“It’s a long season left, we’re still grinding out wins when we’re not playing our best … We’ve got a fantastic manager, we’ve got a really strong squad. We’re in a good place.”
Forest, roared on at the City Ground which waited 23 years for top-flight football to return this year, will take heart from having plenty of possession and chances. Lewis O’Brien forced a smart save while Morgan Gibbs-White shot just over.
The result left them 13th on four points.
“We didn`t get anything from it, so the overriding feeling is one of disappointment. But the performance was good, we really took the game to Spurs,” said Forest manager Steve Cooper. “We don`t want to be in awe of these big teams but take them head on.”
Spurs, though, are the counter-attack masters, and in reality both Kane and strike partner Son Heung-min could have struck more.
Spurs manager Antonio Conte screamed constantly at his charges throughout the game but could have few complaints at how they stood up to Forest’s passion in a raucous atmosphere on a sunny summer afternoon beside the River Trent.
As well as the headline-stealing Kane, whom he called “our reference point in every moment”, Conte will be delighted with the contribution of midfielder Kulusevski. He has provided 10 assists since his debut in February, the highest of anyone in the Premier League during that time.
“It was really intense. There was a lot of noise around the pitch,” Conte said. “For sure, I understand for the players, the opposition, to play here is not easy, with the crowd against you. We suffered in the right way. In the end we did well.”
Cooper was unhappy with Richarlison playing keepy-uppy with the ball in the dying seconds, saying he would not want his players to do that. But Conte said no disrespect was intended and was full of praise for Forest’s performance and noisy fans in the nearly 30,000 crowd.
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(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne, Additional reporting by Dhruv Munjal;Editing by Pritha Sarkar)