Once again, it was Son Heung-min who stole the show at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. This time, he did it on the biggest stage in Europe.
Tottenham showed guts and guile as they beat Manchester City 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. Son’s 78th minute goal was the difference between the two English sides on at atmospheric night in North London.
BIG performance!— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 9, 2019
Sonny's strike and Hugo's early penalty stop mean we'll take a 1-0 advantage into the second leg in Manchester next week!
⚪️ #THFC 1-0 #MCFC pic.twitter.com/nFakHUDasd
Mauricio Pochettino opted for the strongest team Spurs can send out. Harry Winks, who had been dealing with a couple injuries, made his first start since late February. Danny Rose started at left back alongside a center-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld. Spurs’ attackers lined up as one would expect, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, and Son all fit to go.
Benjamin Mendy did not return to fitness in time for this match, so Fabian Delph started on the left side of defense for Manchester City once again. Sergio Aguero and Riyad Mahrez have both had success against Tottenham in the past and featured up top. Former Spurs player Kyle Walker took up his familiar position of right back.
The atmosphere at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was impeccable. The Spurs fans were loud and ready well before the opening whistle, and they continued to make their voices heard throughout the game.
Despite Manchester City’s passing prowess, Pochettino’s team pressed high and hard during what was a heart-stopping first half. Their intensity forced turnovers, and the gap between the two Premier League powers didn’t look anywhere near as wide as the current table makes it seem.
Spurs’ first sight at goal came after a few minutes, when Moussa Sissoko found Dele with a cross. The England international’s volley was well hit, but over.
The drama really began in the 10th minute when the video assistant referee (VAR) gave the visitors a penalty. Rose was the player penalized after a shot from Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have come off his arm in an unnatural position.
But City were then denied by Hugo Lloris, who continued his hot streak of saving penalties. The captain dove to his left to palm away a poorly-taken effort from Aguero.
Spurs responded a bit later by almost going ahead. The referee played an advantage after Dele was fouled by Nicolas Otamendi outside the left side of the box. The ball had fallen to Kane, but his attempt was too close to Ederson.
Things got a bit chippy later in the half when Fernandinho fouled Kane and then shoved his head back towards the turf. Neither the referee nor VAR handed out any discipline for what looked like a dirty play.
The Lilywhites had a few chances to deliver dangerous free-kicks in the first half, but the deliveries were not up to snuff.
City came out seemingly reinvigorated to start the second half. Lloris was forced into an early save as Guardiola’s side began to look more and more dangerous.
Then came a sight that no Spurs fan ever wants to see. Kane threw himself into a tackle near the sideline, sat up holding his ankle, and then was helped back to the dressing room. Kane, who has had ankle issues before, was replaced by Lucas Moura.
The new ground at White Hart Lane was quieted for the first time all evening by the sight of their star striker hobbling off the pitch.
City attempted to press the attack by bringing Gabriel Jesus on for Aguero.
Tottenham had to soak up more pressure as Man City took control and forced the home side back into their own end.
The visitors looked to be inching closer to scoring, but then Spurs pulled off the shock.
Son stayed just onside as Eriksen chipped a ball through to him after a rare period of Tottenham attacking possession in the second frame. Spurs’ South Korean hero altered his run to barely keep the ball in play, and he then cut inside and smashed one underneath Ederson.
It’s a different stadium, but it started to feel like a very similar kind of “Glory, Glory” European night. Tottenham’s faithful were once again erupting in celebrations in N17.
Manchester City put Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne on as a last throw of the dice in the final minutes, but to no avail.
Spurs avoided conceding an away goal as they kept a clean sheet and will now take a 1-0 lead into next Wednesday’s second leg in Manchester. Another solid performance, and Tottenham could find themselves in the club’s first ever Champions League semifinal.