- Associated Press - Thursday, April 12, 2018

LONDON (AP) - The ridicule facing Harry Kane has been cutting and biting.

Opposition players dished out emojis lampooning the Tottenham striker. Rival fans targeted him on social media with doctored images.

Kane’s misdemeanor? Wanting credit for a goal.

Not just in the heat of the moment on the pitch, but by using a little-known process that allows Premier League players to appeal against the official determination of a scorer.

It wasn’t enough for Kane that Tottenham claimed a 2-1 victory at Stoke on Saturday, nudging the north London club closer to a third successive appearance in the Champions League.

Christian Eriksen was recorded as the scorer of both goals but Kane was adamant he got the faintest of touches to the Dane’s second effort.

“It was my goal,” Kane said at Stoke . “It flicked off my shoulder and went in.”

That was not how the Premier League Match Center viewed it.

So determined was Kane to move onto 25 goals in the league this season, he issued a heartfelt plea.

“I swear on my daughter’s life that I touched the ball,” he said. “But there’s nothing I can do.”

Then he found out about the Goal Accreditation Appeals Panel. Testimony was submitted and a three-person panel reviewed the video footage.

“The final touch on the ball belonged to Kane,” it declared on Wednesday night, providing vindication for Kane. But at a cost? The England international now needs to accept being teased about it.

It would be a small price to pay for winning the Golden Boot for the third season running as top scorer in the league.

At least the taunts are largely humorous rather than the venom that often infects social media messages sent to footballers.

Images of landmark goals in football were already flooding Twitter with Kane superimposed claiming the glory.

And when the appeal verdict came in Mohamed Salah, whose lead over Kane on the scoring leaderboard was cut to four goals, was among the quickest to react online. When the Liverpool striker tweeted “Wooooooow really?” it was obvious what he was referring to.

The Liverpool dressing room joined in. Trent Alexander-Arnold replied with two emojis - one with a hand covering his face; another representing a thinking face. Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet posted a video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg smirking.

Former players wondered if they could top up their career goal hauls.

“I can think of half a dozen for the national side I might claim,” former Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker tweeted .

Fifth-tier club Gateshead had a joke announcement to make: “Our second goal at Tranmere Rovers last night has now been awarded to Harry Kane.”

Kane’s determination to seek redress will be viewed by some as vain and egotistical.

Or take it as a sign of his hunger and desire after achieving a status in the game that seemed a remote proposition when he was toiling away on loans in the lower-leagues.

Or accept it is symptomatic of the complex nature of contracts.

For all Kane’s exploits since breaking onto the scoring scene, Tottenham’s wage structure means he is on a reported 120,000 pounds ($170,000) a week. That’s only a third of Alexis Sanchez’s pay and the Manchester United striker has only hit the net nine times in the league.

Players are on goal bonuses, a welcome top up when Kane is comparatively underpaid given his talents and contribution to overachieving Tottenham. And retaining the Golden Boot is bound to secure an extra top-up on some of his commercial endorsements.

Harry’s a very honest person,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said. “He’s not going to lie about this situation. But it’s not a big issue, not a big deal for the team.”

Kane will just want to find the net in less provocative circumstances when Tottenham hosts runaway leader Manchester City on Saturday.

“(He is) disappointed because he never wanted to create this,” Pochettino said. “It is a small or simple thing and they become bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and you cannot stop it. That was what happened. He is going to learn a lot from this.”


AP Premier League coverage: www.apnews.com/tag/PremierLeague

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