Tottenham vs Man City result: Son Heung-min seals well-deserved win but Harry Kane injury mars victory

Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 Manchester City: Spurs survived a dubious penalty and Kane injury to take a slender lead into the Champions League quarter-final second leg

Miguel Delaney
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Wednesday 10 April 2019 07:33
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Tottenham vs Manchester City reviewed

Tottenham Hotspur win the battle, and that’s not just in relation to this 1-0 victory in a Champions League quarter-final first leg.

This was a tie with Manchester City that so often threatened to develop into a war, and may have already seen a significant casualty and Harry Kane’s campaign. It was all the more fitting that it was Son Heung-Min that won it, and his sense of fight that did so. Not to mention his relentlessness. He literally fought for every inch, and the single most crucial inch of all.

With the ball just about to go over the line in the 78th minute, Son kept it in play and powered it into the net. An apparent lost cause brought Spurs’ first Champions League win at their new stadium, and City’s own first defeat since January.

That Sergio Aguero missed an early penalty will only add to the sense of regret, but perhaps not as much as Pep Guardiola’s selection and approach.

Whatever about a war in this Champions League tie, the very competition seems to cause Guardiola to go to war with himself, as if second-guessing his team and so many of his own calls. He made many curious decisions in this match, from the overly physical starting XI to the belated introductions of Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane, and even an unusually combative approach. It could even be said that Spurs dragged them into a fight and a match that more suited Mauricio Pochettino’s side, and can definitely said that the Champions League as a whole causes a drag on Guardiola.

It is as if he is so obsessed with that he can’t just let himself do what is obvious, because he fixates on everything too much.

Some City sources said beforehand that, while he has been entirely relaxed in the title run-in, that was not the case at all in the build-up to this game. Guardiola was more anxious than at any point since… the quarter-finals last season. The danger of losing to another Premier League side to go with Liverpool must have been playing on his mind, to go with the fact he hasn’t won it himself in eight years, and the knowledge that this is what he will ultimately be judged on at City.

The sense of tension never went away. It gripped and subdued the game as a football match.

City could have enjoyed an emotional release early on, but that moment only became a reflection of the tension - not least about VAR.

The debate about that will go in, even if everyone at Uefa maintains that incidents like are actually examples of it working well. By the letter of the law, and the specific Champions League interpretations, it was a penalty.

It does feel relevant that nobody actually raised a complaint when Sterling’s shot hit Rose’s raised hands. Just as relevant, though, might have been the look of resignation on the full-back’s face when referee Bjorn Kuipers signalled he was going to VAR.

It did feel as if he knew.

Penalty?

The problem for City and Aguero, though, was that the Argentine evidently signalled where he was going with the penalty. Lloris went the right way, and stopped it.

The game then went one very specific way, that saw it stopped a lot. It became the highly physical encounter that Guardiola had anticipated with his line-up, but the wonder is whether that very line-up made it something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. City were giving as good as they were getting, especially with Kane.

The England striker got the treatment on several occasions in the first half, especially from Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho.

It’s difficult not to think this fed into what was one of the game’s - and maybe the season’s - key moments. One collision with Fernandinho left Kane riled, and ready to go in strong when the opportunity presented itself. That was precisely what happened, but it wasn’t a precise challenge on Fabian Delph.

Fernandinho escaped punishment for this clear foul

Kane went over on his ankle, and immediately went off for Lucas Moura.

The sight of him being carried down the tunnel may end up haunting Spurs’ campaign, but the sight closer to the pitch summed up much of the game.

There were Pochettino and Delph aggressively shouting in each other’s face. This was the feel of the entire game.

There was very little football played up to then, just a lot of fouls punctuated by physical face-offs. The best chance other than the penalty had been a Kane shot that Ederson had beaten away.

Harry Kane was in pain during the Champions League quarter-final

Son’s eventual goal was from a similar opportunity, but an entire different pattern of play.

An irony was that City had finally started to find their rhythm, and play their football, just before that - and after Kane going off. It was as if they felt they had won the physical battle, so could play the game on their terms.

It only contributed to them losing it.

City were undeniably looking much more fluid and at last piercing holes in Spurs’ backline, to the point it looked like the big chance was inevitable.

David Silva had a fine chance to score

David Silva had seemed to get clear for exactly that, only to slightly delay his chat and delay the shot.

That eventually led to the real opening coming at the other end. Son, however, still had to show the fight required. So did Spurs, to be fair. They were at the stage where they were misplacing passes, and looking jaded. They still had just enough in them. Crucially, they had Son.

With City now playing much higher up the pitch, they were suddenly caught out by one purposeful Spurs push. Delph had seemed to do enough in deflecting it, only for Son to chase what seemed the clearest of lost causes. Not a bit of it. That was the winning of the game.

He just about kept the ball in play, only to then turn in and find himself in the most fortuitous of positions. City, and a limping Ederson, were left with no chance. Son powered it under the goalkeeper.

Son Heung-min scored the winning goal

There were only 12 minutes left, but still 10 until Guardiola brought on Sane and De Bruyne. It was, again, baffling.

City are going to have to be much more focused for the second leg. They’re going to have to raise it because Spurs, evidently, are more than ready for the fight.

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