Jose Mourinho has defended Harry Kane’s performance during England’s Euro 2020 opener against Croatia and has highlighted the forward’s role in Raheem Sterling’s winning goal.
England began their European Championship campaign with a 1-0 win against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday, with Manchester City winger Sterling scoring the only goal of the game for Gareth Southgate’s side.
Despite a positive result, Kane’s performance was scrutinised with the England captain struggling to impact the game, the forward often dropping into midfield without any real success.
Former Tottenham manager Mourinho has defended Kane’s performance however, praising the star’s all-round game and off-the-ball movement in the build-up to Sterling’s goal.
“I think Harry Kane did half of the job too without touching the ball because these kind of strikers know how difficult it is to play against these guys,” Mourinho told talkSPORT.
“Without touching the ball, they create problems for their defence. It’s what happened to [Domagoj] Vida. Instead of giving cover to Raheem’s run he was chasing Harry’s movement.
“So Harry’s not touching the ball, but he did half of the job.
“Of course Kalvin made the run, was composed and saw Harry’s movement but didn’t pass the ball to Harry. Then he sees the space and he plays that ball.”
Mourinho likened Kane’s role in the side to that of former Man Utd man, Wayne Rooney, saying the Spurs striker provides much more than just scoring goals.
“The problem with selfish strikers is that when they don’t score, they do nothing!” he said.
“When they score they are amazing and you arrive at the end of the season and you have a selfish striker that scores 30 goals. Tell me where I can get a striker who can score 30 goals and I’ll take him in the luggage to Rome.
“There are other strikers that when they don’t score they still play – and Harry is one of those strikers.
“If you look at Wayne Rooney, he was a striker and a no.10 and in periods a midfield player. These guys have more than the finishing skills and appetite to score goals.
“Without touching the ball he opened the gap and Sterling made the run. Like [Heung-min] Son at Tottenham did that so many times. It’s a goal that gives the three points, but in the end I don’t think it was just the goal, it was the collective performance.
“It was the control, stability and pragmatism of what a team has to be.”