England concluded its surprisingly uplifting World Cup on Saturday with a 2–0 loss to Belgium in the third-place game. Football might not be coming home, but at least one English player should be returning with something to put in his trophy case. Harry Kane finished the tournament with six goals, and the captain is in prime position to win the tournament’s Golden Boot.
France and Croatia still have to play in Sunday’s final, but Kane has a healthy lead on the remaining eligible players. France’s Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann have each scored three times, so one of them would need to claim a hat-trick to tie the England striker. Barring any four-goal miracles, Kane should at least come away with a share of the Golden Boot.
While Kane accumulated an impressive haul of goals, none were particularly pleasing on the eye. There have been some incredible goals this World Cup, but none of Kane’s could be described as belters, golazos, or screamers. All but one came from open play, and that happened by accident. Still, it would be petty to hold this against Kane, who is a great player and whose job is simply to score.
Joseph Stalin wasn’t talking about goals when he said “quantity has a quality all its own,” but I bet you could convince Harry Kane that he was. Let’s celebrate quantity, then, by ranking Kane’s potentially award-winning haul of tap-ins and penalties.
6. His second goal against Panama.
The stakes are always high at the World Cup, except when you’re winning 4–0 in the first half against Panama. No penalty is a given, so credit Kane for rifling his shot into the corner of the net. Also credit him for the mini fist-pump afterwards to remind everyone that it is fun to score, even against Panama.
5. His third goal against Panama.
Five of Kane’s goals in Russia came from set-pieces. This is the one that didn’t. As you can see, it happened as he was running away from the ball, which hit him on the heel and looped into the net. This isn’t ranked sixth because it a) came during open play, b) sealed a hat-trick, and c) was one of the few World Cup goals that could be scored by any viewer watching at home.
4. His first goal against Panama.
Another penalty, and the start of Harry Kane’s bizarre vendetta against Panama.
3. His first goal against Tunisia.
Kane and England’s opening goal at the 2018 World Cup foretold a tournament of set-piece dominance. It wasn’t just a tap-in, it was a psychic tap-in.
2. His goal against Colombia.
There was legitimate pressure during this Round of 16 spot kick, but Kane was able to cooly slot it home. The game eventually went to penalties, and Kane also converted in England’s first-ever World Cup shootout victory. Boring goals can help make history, too.
1. His second goal against Tunisia.
Another set-piece and another tap-in, but Kane’s stoppage-time winner in England’s first match may have saved the team’s tournament. A 1–1 draw against Tunisia would have been a case of “same old England,” an ailment with no known cure. Kane may have changed England’s entire psychological makeup with the flick of his head, and that alone is worth a prize.