Cristian Stellini, Tottenham’s acting head coach, defended Harry Kane against accusations of cheating after they were levelled at the England captain during a fractious 1-1 draw at Everton.
The Everton midfielder Abdoulaye Doucouré was shown a straight red card for hitting Kane in the face in an incident instigated by the Spurs striker. Kane collapsed theatrically to the ground and chants of “cheat, cheat, cheat” accompanied his every touch thereafter. He was also booed off at the final whistle by a Goodison Park crowd in uproar after Michael Keane rescued a point for Sean Dyche’s team with a stunning 90th-minute goal.
But Stellini, who also had substitute Lucas Moura sent off for a dangerous foul on the Everton goalscorer, insisted: “It is normal that the fans are unhappy but, in my opinion, it was a clear red card. That happens sometimes, but the fans have to realise the situation. The decision was taken and I think it was a good decision. I thought both red cards were red cards. The tackle from Lucas was dangerous and the hand was clearly on the face of Harry. I was very close to the situation so, for me, it was clear.”
Dyche agreed that Doucouré had to go – his was the 105th red card received by an Everton player in the Premier League era, an unwanted record – but insisted Kane had instigated the fracas by tackling the midfielder after committing a foul against Demarai Gray.
The Everton manager said: “The sending-off, you cannot raise your hands. It is as simple as that. All I would say is that I couldn’t understand why Harry went for the challenge. The referee had blown the whistle, so it ended up making a moment out of something that wouldn’t have been a moment. Doucouré responds to that, but the actual outcome you cannot do that.”
Stellini admitted Spurs had only themselves to blame for failing to take advantage of Doucouré’s dismissal and for dropping two more points in the race for Champions League qualification. He added: “We didn’t lead the game with the ball after the red card. We had the chance to control the game better than we did and you have to do it with the ball because you have one extra player. We were rushed and frantic and we have to improve in this aspect. It is a long process and we don’t change in one night.”