Tottenham got a crucial home victory in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Manchester City, with Son Heung-min’s second-half goal giving Spurs a 1-0 lead to take into next week’s second leg in Manchester.
Though they still face an uphill task to reach the semi-final given City’s prowess, Son’s goal must have given Spurs real belief that they can progress past the quarter-final in this competition for the first time in the club’s history.
Here’s a look at the talking points from the game.
SON SHOWS HIS WORTH AGAIN
Harry Kane is Tottenham’s best player, most important player, hero, talisman, golden boy, future captain, future legend (if he’s not one already) – the list could go on. Yet, this season, there is a strong claim from one of his team-mates for one or two of those mantles.
Spurs’ squad is sprinkled with talent. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen are among the best centre-backs in the Premier League, Christian Eriksen will be worth every bit of the reported £120million transfer fee Tottenham will try to squeeze out of Real Madrid if he does indeed leave, and Dele Alli could, like Kane, end up being an England and Spurs great. But where would Tottenham be this season without Son?
The Korean has 18 goals this season, along with six assists; he has the second-highest tally in both categories for Tottenham this campaign. And so many of his interventions have been crucial, with this the latest example.
Tottenham’s first-half promise had slowly fizzled out; City were choking them out of the game, and Kane had just gone off injured. The win that looked possible in the first half had become increasingly unlikely. Then, up popped Son.
GUARDIOLA GETS IT WRONG IN EUROPE AGAIN
Pep Guardiola’s team selection raised eyebrows. Riyad Mahrez ahead of Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne on the bench – it seemed yet again that the Spaniard was over-complicating things in Europe. His explanation for De Bruyne’s absence was that the Belgian isn’t in the best form and could have struggled against Tottenham’s physicality. Barely a year ago, Guardiola was calling the midfielder the best player in the world after Lionel Messi.
Remember last season, when Guardiola played all four of Ilkay Gundogan, Fernandinho, David Silva, and De Bruyne in midfield against Liverpool in order to give his team greater control, only for City to get ripped apart 3-0?
This wasn’t that bad, and Sergio Aguero’s missed penalty that would have given City the lead could have rendered this entire discussion moot. Equally, though, Kane missed a golden opportunity in the first half and Son’s touch let him down a few times; it could have been worse than 1-0. City have now been outscored 7-1 in their last three Champions League knockout ties away from home, all losses.
This tie is far from over, of course. City will back themselves to get a two-goal win at home, even considering Tottenham’s excellent away record in the Premier League – second only to Liverpool, though that does include six losses.
But why does Guardiola insist on having his team do things the hard way?
Pep Guardiola's last win in a CL quarter-final or semi-final away leg was in 2011, when Phil Foden was at junior school.— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) April 9, 2019
WINKS THE CARRICK OF HIS GENERATION
Harry Winks won 100% of his duels on Tuesday night. For a 23-year-old in a Champions League quarter-final for the first time, that’s impressive. For a midfielder playing against Man City, with their trio of Silva, Fernandinho, and Gundogan, that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.
Mauricio Pochettino deserves immense credit for the way he’s turned the Winks-Moussa Sissoko partnership into such an effective one, on both counts – for Winks’ development and for the revival of Sissoko’s career, after he was looking like one of their worst transfers in recent memory. The latter is probably the more remarkable achievement from the manager, but the former probably gives him slightly more pride and joy, given Pochettino’s love of youth.
Winks has a long way to go, and there are sure to be ups and downs along the way. However, without going too overboard with the superlatives, he looks poised to be the Michael Carrick of the new generation – in an era when a player like that is appreciated and needed, unlike, unfortunately, during Carrick’s time.
The young midfielder will need to deliver performances like Tuesday’s on a more consistent basis, starting with next week’s return leg. But, judging by the signs, Spurs have found themselves a special player.
Harry Winks’ game by numbers vs. Man City:— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 9, 2019
100% attacking third passes completed
100% take-ons successful
100% aerial duels won
100% tackles won
87% pass accuracy
5 ball recoveries
Really mature performance. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ghauP0pgOm
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Qyadruple-chasing Manchester City will have to do it the hard way if they are to win four trophies this season following a 1-0 defeat to Tottenham in the first-leg of their quarter-final Champions League tie.
City had the perfect chance to open the scoring when referee Bjorn Kuipers consulted VAR and awarded a penalty following a raised Danny Rose arm. But Sergio Aguero’s weak spot kick was saved by Hugo Lloris.
Thereafter it was an open yet cagey affair with City offering little in the way of clear-cut chances. They have it all to do as they host the second leg at the Etihad next week.
Here are our Man City player ratings:
MANCHESTER CITY (4-2-3-1)
Ederson – 6: Made solid stop from Kane. Confidently came for crosses, significantly injuring himself but recovered. Didn’t cover himself in glory for Son strike.
Kyle Walker – 5: Contributed sparingly in defence. Hardly put a foot wrong but didn’t see enough of him either going back or forwards.
Nicolas Otamendi – 5: Lived on the edge as usual, committed three fouls. Busy at the back with seven clearances.
Aymeric Laporte – 5: Struggled to keep a lid on roaming Alli, booked for fouling him. Led side with nine clearances.
Fabian Delph – 6: Committed outing, adding steel to City’s left side. Allowed Son to saunter past him too easy for goal though.
Fernandinho – 5: Put himself about, with Kane in-particular feeling his force. Three fouls. Wasteful when he had the ball.
Ilkay Gundogan – 6: Distribution predictably excellent and got over a subdued start. Not helped by ineffective Fernandinho.
Riyad Mahrez – 5: Worked hard going backwards but got little joy in attack. Two key passes but not enough penetration.
David Silva – 6: Carried the creative burden in absence of namesake Bernardo and De Bruyne. Interestingly led side with four tackles.
Raheem Sterling – 8: Slaloming run bamboozled Spurs defence and – with the help of VAR – led to a penalty. Always looked their best threat – five key passes.
Sergio Aguero – 4: Terrible penalty, nice height for Lloris. On the periphery for large parts as Spurs were solid. Taken off after below-par outing.
Gabriel Jesus – 6: Replaced silent Aguero but couldn’t pierce rigid Spurs defence.
Kevin De Bruyne N/A: Looked sharp, firing in a cross that Lloris just got to ahead of Jesus.
Leroy Sane N/A: Offered a few tricks but introduction was too little, too late.
Tottenham overcame the loss of Harry Kane to injury as well as a Sergio Aguero penalty miss to earn a 1-0 first-leg Champions League quarter-final victory over Manchester City – thanks to Son Heung-min’s individual goal.
City had the perfect chance to open the scoring when referee Bjorn Kuipers consulted VAR and awarded a penalty following a raised Danny Rose arm. But Aguero’s weak spot kick was saved by Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham then had to contend with Kane’s injury early in the second half, hobbling off after careering into Fabian Delph.
It was an open game but also cagey with few clear-cut chances and you felt there might only be one goal – it came from the hosts with 20 minutes remaining. Son beat the offside trap and then keept the ball in, before bamboozling Delph and firing under Ederson.
They held on and will take a one-goal advantage to the Etihad next week.
Here’s how we rated the home players:
Hugo Lloris – 7: Penalty was at a nice height for him but he still had to get across to palm it away. Handling was solid throughout.
Kieran Trippier – 6: Had his hands full with Sterling but stuck at his task. Led Spurs with four tackles.
Toby Alderweireld – 7: Stood up stoically in the face of a usually dominant City. Kept Aguero quiet, which is hard to do. Led side with five clearances.
Jan Vertonghen – 7: Typified Spurs’ solidity as the rock in central defence. Attacking prowess was a feature against Borussia Dortmund, here he was back doing day job.
Danny Rose – 7: Overcame that concession of a penalty to put in a solid display. Kept Mahrez quiet.
Harry Winks – 5: Diminutive midfielder won team-high three aerials. Not the greatest of impacts but was busy and industrious.
Moussa Sissoko – 8: Patrolled midfield diligently, as well as contributing in attack. Superb tackle on surging Sterling. Distribution was flawless, completing 96.7 per cent of his passes.
Christian Eriksen – 6: Always the out ball for Spurs and looked capable of fashioning an open. Fairly quiet until clipping Son in for the Spurs goal – one of three key passes.
Dele Alli – 7: Lively start, firing over. Good feet set up chance for Kane. A constant scourge for City. Fouled three times.
Son Heung-min – 8: Grew into the game, flashing a shot inches wide of Ederson’s goal to start the second half. Beat offside trap and kept ball in before firing opening goal.
Harry Kane – 7: Led line confidently. Brought stop from Ederson, though perhaps could have made him work harder. Worryingly hobbled off after meaty clash with Delph.
Lucas Moura – 6: Immediate impact as he surged into City territory, earning a free-kick.
Victor Wanyama N/A: Brought on to solidify the midfield. Little of note.
Fernando Llorente N/A: No time to make an impact, five touches.