If there was a small blemish on Tottenham Hotspur’s 2-0 victory over Manchester City at White Hart Lane today, it was Erik Lamela’s missed penalty in the second half. Just after Dele Alli was brought down in the box, Lamela seemed to scuffle with Son Heung-Min and actually took the ball away from him to attempt the penalty.
Son, who was set to take the shot, looked furious, and Lamela’s penalty was easily saved by Claudio Bravo, preventing a goal that could have put the match to bed long before the final whistle.
There’s been a lot of discussion online and on social media about whether Lamela was right to take the penalty, or whether Son should’ve stood his ground. There was also some rumination about why Mauricio Pochettino seemingly didn’t have an on-pitch hierarchy for penalties for who takes them and when.
Poche addressed the kerfluffle in post-match comments and said, essentially, that when he’s on the pitch Harry Kane’s the guy, but otherwise they’re big boys and can work it out.
"Lamela, Sonny, [Christian] Eriksen. ... At the moment, it's who feels better to shoot. Two players wanted to shoot. That's always better than nobody wanting the ball. They decided to be brave.
"Maybe the next one if Son is on, and Lamela too, maybe he says 'now you give me the ball.' The only one who shoots can miss the penalty. If Sonny missed, not Lamela, we talk in the same way. There's no issue.
"When we prepared for the game, two, three, four players can take [penalties]. Harry Kane is the first and then we pick a two, a three. But different things can happen on the pitch and the players can say 'I'm confident' and then discuss. They are allowed to discuss and then take the decision. It's difficult from the touchline because they're fighting and I cannot run to the middle of the pitch and say 'no you.'"
Well, it’s nice to know that Harry Kane is the designated penalty taker for Tottenham, but it appears to be all Lord of the Flies out there now that he’s injured. Poche doesn’t seem too upset with how things went down, though.
Personally, I’d rather have Son take that kick than Lamela, if only because Sonny’s on a hot streak of goalscoring right now and Lamela... well, isn’t. But we’re dealing with a couple of Type A personalities here. Maybe Lamela was trying to “big dog” Son (which, y’know, LOL), or maybe Lamela was just full of confidence and thought he could nail it.
It’s water under the bridge now, and a 2-0 win will certainly help soothe any hurt feelings. Hopefully Erik and Sonny hugged it out after the match and all’s well in Argentine-Korean foreign relations.