Why England and Southgate must drop Harry Kane for Euro 2024 final: his record in big games is shocking

Matt Stead
England striker Harry Kane after the 2019 Champions League final, during the Euro 2021 final and against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-final
Harry Kane has an awful record in semis and finals

Harry Kane has scored five goals in 18 career semis and finals, three of which were penalties and one a rebound after he missed. Should he start v Spain?

Kane has scored five goals and provided two assists in 1,632 minutes (a rate of one goal contribution every 233.1 minutes) across 18 semi-final and final matches for club and country. Three of those goals were penalties; one was a rebound after his effort was saved.

He has been picked for crucial games despite being unfit with weird frequency. Draw your own conclusions on Kane and England at Euro 2024.

 

2015 League Cup semi-final (no goals, one assist in 180 minutes)

First leg: Tottenham 1 Sheffield United 0
Second leg: Sheffield United 2 Tottenham 2

Spurs made tough work of League One opposition to reach the 2015 League Cup final, dispatching Nigel Clough’s Blades with the help of an Andros Townsend penalty and Christian Eriksen’s second-leg heroics. The Dane cancelled out a Che Adams double with a sensational first-half free-kick and a clever finish from Harry Kane‘s lovely through ball at Bramall Lane.

Benjamin Stambouli finished that game, in which Kane had eight shots without scoring. 2015 Harry Kane was the most pure version of Harry Kane possible.

 

2015 League Cup final (no goals, no assists in 90 minutes)

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0

Having beaten Chelsea 5-3 in a White Hart Lane thriller on New Year’s Day, Spurs went into the 2015 League Cup final two months later with fresh belief that they could overcome the dominant Premier League leaders. Kane won a free-kick that Eriksen rattled against the Wembley crossbar after ten minutes, with further chances falling to Nacer Chadli and Ryan Mason. But they were soon Jose Mourinho’d by goals late in the first half and early in the second, both deflected, scored by John Terry and Diego Costa. There might be no more painful way to lose an association football game.

Terry’s strike went in off Kane last; he said post-match that “it’s the worst feeling in the world, losing, and losing in a final on the big stage even worse”. He would have plenty of future opportunities to get used to it.

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2017 FA Cup semi-final (one goal, no assists in 90 minutes)

Chelsea 4 Tottenham 2

Two years later, the same opponent haunted Spurs at the same stadium. Chelsea were once again Premier League champions in the making and while Pochettino had overseen an undoubted improvement, Antonio Conte’s monstrous Blues were not for stopping.

Kane equalised with a glorious 18th-minute header after Willian’s free-kick opened the scoring. The Brazilian netted again, only for Dele to respond. But an Eden Hazard-inspired late blitz sent Chelsea to the final as Spurs fell short again.

Kane was devastated yet again but Heung-min Son at left wing-back was the story.

READ MORE16 Conclusions: Chelsea 4-2 Tottenham

 

2018 FA Cup semi-final (no goals, no assists in 90 minutes)

Manchester United 2 Tottenham 1

Back when Phil Jones wasn’t patted on the head for basic defensive actions, as if he wasn’t a dedicated and very good professional footballer at the absolute highest level, he was busy going through that rite of passage for any centre-half worth their salt: shackling a half-fit Kane in an important cup game.

The Spurs striker rushed back from an ankle injury to be captain for 90 minutes in a disappointing defeat to Manchester United. Dele gave Pochettino’s side an early lead but Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera pegged them back to send Mourinho through again.

 

2018 World Cup semi-final (no goals, no assists in 120 minutes)

Croatia 2 England 1 AET

There had been some inevitable concern over Kane’s fitness heading into the World Cup, rather undermined by six goals in eight Premier League games in April and May, then another half-dozen at the tournament itself from the group stage to the last-16 victory over Colombia.

Things slowed from the quarter-final onwards, however, as England made it past Sweden without their talisman scoring, then ran out of steam against Croatia before the dud of a third-place play-off with Belgium. Kane looked frankly knackered in that semi-final, emphasised best by that first-half chance at 1-0 up: Kane hit it straight at Danijel Subasic, should have squared it to Raheem Sterling and was offside anyway. Perfect hat-trick, that.

 

2019 League Cup semi-final (one goal, no assists in 90 minutes)

First leg: Tottenham 1 Chelsea 0
Second leg: Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1

Another ankle ligament injury stunted Kane’s progress during the 2018/19 season, although he did still manage 24 goals in 40 club appearances. Among those was a penalty the striker won from and converted past Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 26th minute of a first-leg win.

With Kane out of the return at Stamford Bridge, Spurs soon allowed their grip on the tie to slip. N’Golo Kante and Hazard cancelled out their advantage within 40 minutes at Stamford Bridge and while Fernando Llorente sent the game to extra-time and penalties as Kane’s replacement, Eric Dier and Lucas Moura erred from the spot in an agonising shootout.

 

2019 Champions League final (no goals, no assists in 90 minutes)

Tottenham 0 Liverpool 2

Kane managed to recover from that ankle problem and sustain another in the time Spurs made it through to the latter stages of another knockout competition. The inverse of the League Cup run happened as Kane missed the entirety of the Champions League semi-final drama against Ajax before starting the final – his first appearance in 53 days.

There was no semblance of surprise as Kane awkwardly and aimlessly stumbled around the Wanda Metropolitano, managing 26 touches in 90 laboured minutes. Pochettino might forever ponder the decision to play him instead of semi-final hero Lucas, although Liverpool led from the 106th second and the choice of centre-forward might never have changed that.

But Kane really was miserably bad.

 

2021 League Cup semi-final (no goals, no assists in 90 minutes)

Tottenham 2 Brentford 0

Given the chance to really stretch his legs and inspire Spurs to the brink of shiny glory, Kane could not put Championship side Brentford to the sword in a one-legged Carabao Cup semi-final. The hosts never looked truly comfortable, not least a forward who was kept quiet by Mads Sorensen and Ethan Pinnock.

 

2021 League Cup final (no goals, no assists in 90 minutes)

Manchester City 1 Tottenham 0

Mourinho was the mastermind behind that underdog victory but as the Portuguese has reminded anyone who will listen in the three years since, he was not allowed to enjoy the fruit of his labours. That honour was instead bestowed upon Mason, who quickly acclimatised to the role perfectly by conceding that he was “not sure” whether the injured Kane would be fit to feature in the final.

The jury remained very much out during a 90-minute display that produced no shots, no key passes and, perhaps the best indication of an off-colour Kane, no fouls conceded and only one won. His trophy drought went on, while Mourinho added another half to his collection.

 

Euro 2020 semi-final (one goal, no assists in 120 minutes)

England 2 Denmark 1 AET

It took time for those gears to start whirring at Euro 2020 but Kane soon began to motor, reaching the point where he felt confident enough to purposely miss an extra-time semi-final spot-kick against Denmark so he could score the rebound and ensure all of his tournament goals were non-penalties. He was excellent in the best semi or final performance of his career thus far.

 

Euro 2020 final (no goals, no assists in 120 minutes)

Italy 1 England 1 (3-2 on penalties)

But Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci soon had a word. Kane was thoroughly restrained in the final, dropping increasingly deeper in search of purpose and meaning. The captain did take a hell of a penalty in the shootout, later mourning a defeat “that will stay with me for the rest of my career”.

 

2022 League Cup semi-final (no goals, no assists in 180 minutes

Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0
Tottenham 0 Chelsea 1

Kane did score across three hours against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea but it a) ruled out for offside and b) came after Tottenham had gift-wrapped at least two of the three goals the Blues had scored before then. Kane had six shots and did not create a single chance, with Antonio Conte fully resigning himself to the fact that “in the last few years the level of Tottenham has dropped, and dropped a lot”.

He had been manager for about two months.

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2024 German Super Cup (no goals, no assists in 26 minutes)

Bayern Munich 0 Leipzig 3

After close to a decade of the media and pundits lazily asking whether Kane had to leave Tottenham in order to win trophies, he decided to see for himself. A protracted transfer to Bayern Munich was finally completed and the German juggernaut, Bundesliga champions for 11 consecutive seasons with European honours and a long list of domestic success to boot, opened up a whole new avenue of certain glory.

But Kane’s debut provided quite the dilemma: would it be funnier for the joke to be on Spurs and for Kane to win silverware in literally his first match after leaving; or for the joke to be on Kane with even the German Super Cup unfathomably out of reach?

The joke, as ever, was of course on both. Leipzig had beaten Bayern long before Kane made his debut as a second-half substitute. And Spurs were still Spurs.

 

2024 Champions League semi-final (one goal, one assist in 175 minutes)

Bayern Munich 2 Real Madrid 2
Real Madrid 2 Bayern Munich 1

Despite breaking all manner of Bundesliga scoring records in his first season, it soon became apparent that Kane and Bayern were powerless against an invincible Leverkusen side which had so thoroughly turned the tables. Kane was on the bench for a humiliating DFB-Pokal second-round defeat to Saarbrucken early in the campaign and so all eggs were placed carefully into the Champions League basket.

Kane contributed to knockout wins over Lazio and Arsenal to book a semi-final date with Real Madrid. He gave Bayern a first-leg lead from the penalty spot but Vinicius Junior forced a draw which left things finely poised at the Bernabeu.

Alphonso Davies scored a stunning individual goal after an hour which came from Kane’s wonderful ball, even if he still had plenty of work to do. It was looking rosy enough for Bayern that Tuchel felt comfortable with substituting his star striker due to a back complaint, only for Joselu to happen immediately after.

He appears to have carried that injury into Euro 2024, yet the 19th semi or final of his career beckons because…

 

Euro 2024 semi-final (one goal, no assists in 81 minutes)

Netherlands 1 England 2

Kane caught flak from Dutch pundits for “screaming and rolling” around when the follow through on a shot he perhaps should have really done better from connected with the boot of Denzel Dumfries. Mark it down as another penalty ‘won’ and subsequently converted by Kane – although it should be noted that the spot kick was excellent.

With the possibility of another shoot-out looming, it was a substitution involving Kane which broke the deadlock and inspired England into a second consecutive Euros final. He made way for Ollie Watkins, the Netherlands suddenly struggled with the concept of a moving striker and another debate was sparked as to whether a half-fit Kane should start in a final despite there ostensibly being far better options, before his manager inevitably names him in his line-up.