Harry Kane using domestic disappointment to fuel Bayern’s Champions League bid

By Sports Desk April 10, 2024

Harry Kane says the bitter pill of Bayern Munich’s doomed Bundesliga title defence and the prospect of a Wembley final is fuelling his desire for Champions League glory.

Former Tottenham star Kane returned to haunt familiar foes Arsenal by converting a first-half penalty in Tuesday evening’s thrilling quarter-final first leg which ended tantalisingly poised at 2-2.

Bayern’s 11-season run as German champions could be over before next week’s return match with the Gunners as unbeaten runaway leaders Bayer Leverkusen sit 16 points clear with only 18 left to play for.

England captain Kane has understandably written off domestic silverware but retains hope of ending the season on a high under the arch of his country’s national stadium on June 1.

“Look, it’s a competition that the club want to win,” he said.

“Not winning the Bundesliga this year is a tough pill to swallow and it makes this competition even more important but we know there’s still a long way to go.

“We have to find that togetherness, we have to find that team ethic where we grind out games because we haven’t done it enough this year.

“In the Champions League, we’ve done well, had a good campaign but we will need more of that if we want to go all the way to Wembley.”

Kane was cast in the role of pantomime villain at a raucous Emirates Stadium and responded with his 15th career goal against the Gunners to help keep Bayern’s season alive.

The 30-year-old, who now has a remarkable tally of 39 goals this term, sees parallels between his current team’s predicament and when Spurs reached the 2019 Champions League final despite finishing 27 points adrift of champions Manchester City in the top flight.

“That campaign itself is similar because we weren’t having a great time in the league if I’m totally honest,” he said

“But we found some passion and togetherness in the Champions League and we managed to get to the final.

“That experience gives me hope that we can find that again, we know we can perform in the big games and try to get back to the final.

“Being at Wembley is also extra motivation for me personally being my national stadium and it’s still there to try and achieve.”

Bayern departed north London feeling aggrieved after Swedish referee Glenn Nyberg opted against penalising Arsenal defender Gabriel for inexplicably picking up the ball in his own box after a David Raya goal kick in the 67th minute.

Manager Thomas Tuchel branded the decision “horrible”, while Kane and fellow ex-Spurs man Eric Dier were both left bemused.

Arsenal later appealed for an added-time penalty when Bukayo Saka tumbled under a challenge from visiting goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

“It was a stonewall penalty and I don’t know why the ref didn’t give it,” Kane said of the Gabriel incident.

“It would have been strange. But the ref blew the whistle (for play to resume), he (Raya) passed it, he (Gabriel) picked it up, it would have been child like but that’s not our problem.

“The rules are the rules. Maybe they should have had one, we should have had one.”

Bayern’s sense of injustice was heightened by Leandro Trossard’s 76th-minute equaliser after goals from former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry and Kane overturned Saka’s early opener.

Kane hopes to harness the passion of a packed out Allianz Arena in the second leg, having been relentlessly jeered by home supporters as the six-time European champions played in the absence of travelling fans due to a UEFA sanction.

“I think they have a soft respect for me, the Arsenal fans,” said Kane. “I was a fan when I was younger so I know how it goes and, for me, I just try to perform.

“For some reason, I get a lot of penalties at the Emirates and I’ve been happy I’ve been able to put them away and it will be nice to be at home next and in front of the Munich fans.

“It was hard with no fans, strange to have no-one there for us but I thought we dealt with it well and I think you’ll see them even more excited next week having not been to this game and maybe even louder than they usually are.

“Hopefully we can use that energy to our advantage and really try to put the pressure on.”

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