Gary Neville claims Harry Kane was “cute” in winning a controversial penalty in Tottenham’s 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
The Spurs striker went down in the box under a sliding challenge from Matty Cash, before converting the penalty to round off a big win for his side in the race for European football.
It was an incident that sparked debate as Kane stepped into Cash’s sliding challenge on the byline, drawing the foul from the full-back as the ball was running out of play.
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Cash protested his innocence with referee Mike Dean, as it appeared he had already committed to going to ground to block a potential Kane cross, before the Tottenham talisman cut across his path to initiate the contact.
Gary Lineker took to Twitter to voice his disagreement with Dean’s decision, questioning Kane’s morality.
“Never a penalty,” Lineker wrote on Twitter. “A tad unscrupulous from @HKane.”
Neville also believed Kane was actively trying to win a penalty, but said the right decision was made by Dean.
“He [Kane] is looking for the fact that Cash slides in,” Neville said. “It’s cute from Kane. Some won’t like it, but [it’s] naivety [from Cash]. If you go to ground in the box, you’ve got no chance.”
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That sentiment was echoed by Cash’s own manager, Dean Smith, who ruefully accepted the decision when speaking after the match.
“It’s a penalty,” Smith said. “Harry’s miscontrolled it and the ball’s gone out of play, but he [Cash] has gone to ground and he’s caught him.”
Referee Dean did not hesitate to award the penalty for what he saw as a legitimate foul on Kane, however, with VAR seeing no reason to overturn it.
It’s a result that keeps Tottenham in the hunt for Champions League qualification – with Jose Mourinho’s side just three points behind Chelsea in fourth place – but all but ends the hopes of Villa, who continue to struggle in the absence of Jack Grealish.