Mauricio Pochettino reacts to Rafa Benitez’s criticism of Harry Kane in Newcastle’s season-opener

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has defended Harry Kane after the Tottenham Hotspur striker cut short Florian Lejeune’s debut.

The Newcastle United defender was injured by a late challenge from Kane.

Lejeune left the stadium after yesterday’s 2-0 defeat on crutches.

Rafa Benitez felt that Kane should have been shown a red card for the first-half tackle.

United’s manager said what Kane did was “worse” than Jonjo Shelvey’s stamp on Dele Alli.

Shelvey was shown a red card, while Kane was booked for his offence.

However, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino had a different view.

“I think it’s different,” said Pochettino.

“I saw the action. It was the same with (Matt) Ritchie against Dele Alli after he was involved with Shelvey.

“I think it’s not fair to say that it deserved the same punishment, Harry, as Shelvey, or Ritchie.”

Shelvey will now serve an automatic three-game suspension.

Alli eventually opened the scoring with 61 minutes gone.

Ben Davies sealed victory nine minutes later.

Alli – who came close to joining Newcastle in 2015 – has previously had disciplinary problems.

And Pochettino praised the England international’s “calmness” at St James’s Park.

Pochettino said: “He was calm – that’s important.

“Last season, we talked a lot about that, how we need to behave and improve and learn.

“He’s mature enough now to accept sometimes what happens on the pitch, but he is so clam, he is so brave.

“Then he scored – and he scored a great goal – and I’m very pleased.

“He needs to improve. He is not at his best expression, but it is coming.”

Meanwhile, Moussa Sissoko was taken off in the 58th minute.

The former United midfielder, sold to Tottenham a year ago for £30million, had a quiet game.