The only person at Tottenham who does not seem to miss Harry Kane is Son Heung-min.
Between January 14 and February 22 when Kane was injured, Son scored four goals in as many games. Since Kane has been back, going into this match, Son had scored just one in seven. And then Kane went off in the 55th minute. And Son scored the winner. Strange, isn’t it?
Not that this is the case for doing without Tottenham’s talismanic striker. If Kane’s injury is as serious as most observers believe, he might not play again this season. It is highly unlikely that he will make the return leg in Manchester next Wednesday. And that is a giant blow for Tottenham.
Son Heung-min pointed to the Tottenham badge on his chest after scoring a potentially massive goal against Manchester City
Sergio Aguero had a golden chance to give City the lead and an away goal with a VAR-awarded penalty on 13 minutes
But Aguero’s spot-kick was pushed away by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris — the Frenchman’s third penalty save in 2019
Spurs were dealt an injury blow in the second half when No 10 Harry Kane turned his left ankle when challenging Fabian Delph
Kane limped off before the hour after damaging the same ankle which kept him out of action for six weeks earlier in 2019
With Kane off the field, South Korea’s Son rose to the occasion and put Spurs ahead on 78 minutes with a low left-footed shot
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris 8; Trippier 6.5, Alderweireld 7, Vertonghen 6.5, Rose 7; Sissoko 7, Winks 7.5 (Wanyama 80), Eriksen 6.5; Dele Alli 7.5 (Llorente 85), Son 7.5, Kane 7 (Moura 58, 6).
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Davies, Sanchez, Foyth.
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7.5
Scorers: Son 78
Manchester City 4-3-3: Ederson 6.5; Walker 6.5, Laporte 6, Otamendi 6, Delph 5.5; Fernandinho 6.5, Gundogan 6.5, D Silva 6.5 (De Bruyne 89); Mahrez 5.5 (Sane 89), Aguero 5.5 (Jesus 71, 6), Sterling 7.
Subs not used: Muric, Kompany, Stones, Foden.
Booked: Laporte, Mahrez
Manager: Pep Guardiola 6.5
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (Hol)
Player ratings by Sami Mokbel
The move for Tottenham’s goal started with No 1 Hugo Lloris and ended with No 7 Son Heung-min cutting onto his left foot to score
Sergio Aguero only touched the ball 18 times in his 70-minute appearance and his heatmap tells to tale of a below-par display
8 – It is now eight years since a side managed by Pep Guardiola won an away game in the Champions League quarter-finals or semi-finals (v Real Madrid in 2011).
Yet this win affords hope, too. Manchester City did not get an away goal, meaning Tottenham need only a draw from here. And then there is Son. A player we know can save the day.
It was his sheer determination that won through on the night, working hard while around him City dawdled. They were architects of their downfall in so many ways — not least Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss. Add to that Pep Guardiola’s mystifying decision to omit Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and the combative Bernardo Silva — and the fact the players he did pick chose not to play to the whistle for the winner — and this was a massively frustrating night for City. All of their failings might be dismissed as symptoms of fatigue but it is not going to get any easier from here.
Back to Son who, briefly, was being discussed as a potential Footballer of the Year when filling Kane’s shoes in midwinter. What is it about this responsibility that brings the best out of him? He might take on Kane’s duties for keeps in the 2018-19 campaign now, judging by his team-mate’s painfully sudden departure. Tackling Fabian Delph, Kane was injured on the touchline nearest the tunnel and hopped straight down it, aided by Tottenham’s medical staff. The expert view? It looked a nasty one. All the pundits agreed that Kane might have damaged left ankle ligaments, a weakness as pronounced in his career as was achilles’ heel.
Fans were given branded plastic bags and they held them up before kick-off to create a piece of visual art in the south stand
When held up in formation across the 17,500-seater stand, the bags spelled out Tottenham’s club motto: ‘TO DARE IS TO DO’
City’s players, including the returning Aguero (front left), posed for a team photo on the pitch before Tuesday night’s game
Hosts Tottenham, dressed all in white, lined up for their team photo with five English players in their starting XI on Tuesday
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino (left) and City boss Pep Guardiola shook hands on the touchline before the game began
Guardiola was animated during the early exchanges as the City boss gestured to his team at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Raheem Sterling (second right) hit a shot towards goal and it struck Spurs left back Danny Rose on his arm in the penalty area
Tottenham defender Rose raised his left arm as he slid towards Sterling in an attempt to block his England team-mate’s shot
Even if the damage from the rolled ankle is not substantial — and we may even be talking England and the UEFA Nations League, too — it will keep him out short-term. To add insult to injury, Delph seemed to take offence at Kane’s stricken state and exchanged words. The tackle itself was no more than robust — if anything a free-kick would have been more likely against Kane — but Mauricio Pochettino took understandable umbrage at the aftermath. He remonstrated before being distracted by Kane’s struggle to continue. It looked gloomy, and then along came Son.
There was a lesson here for Manchester City and it is the oldest one in the book. Play to the whistle. When Christian Eriksen hit the ball wide right, City thought Son was offside and many eased up. Son, as is his wont, kept going and retrieved the ball before it crossed the by-line. At which point, City’s defenders appealed for the flag.
Delph was slow to close down, so too Ilkay Gundogan. Ederson, the goalkeeper, had come for the ball and was recovering his position. Given far too much space, Son shot, and the ball went under the unprepared Ederson. It was a horrible goal to concede, particularly having spurned the chance to score an away goal in the first half.
City have already missed one very costly penalty this season — at Anfield, to win the game in the final minutes of their league fixture — and here was another that may have significant consequence. This was a very modern penalty, one that can only be given in an era when referees are informed of possible mistakes, and until Bjorn Kuipers started hearing voices, few suspected anything was amiss.
Rose looked nervous as the match was paused for a VAR review of the incident, which led to City being given a penalty kick
Referee Bjorn Kuipers came over to the side of the pitch to observe replays of the incident before pointing to the penalty spot
Rose was shown a yellow card by ref Kuipers, despite the protests of Tottenham’s Belgian centre back Jan Vertonghen (No 5)
City striker Aguero stepped up from 12 yards and looked confident as he struck the penalty kick towards the Tottenham goal
But Tottenham captain Lloris made a strong diving save to deny Aguero and keep Tottenham level early in the first half
Spurs keeper Lloris was congratulated by team-mates Toby Alderweireld (left) and Kieran Trippier after saving the penalty
It followed good work from Raheem Sterling, cutting inside from the left and firing a low shot that was deflected for a corner by Danny Rose. It was only when the VAR message appeared on the giant screen that it dawned on the locals there could be trouble. Kuipers signalled the procedure and then left the field to study the evidence. As the wait grew, the natives became restless.
By now, those with access to replays had seen the horrid truth. Sterling’s shot had struck Rose on an outstretched arm — an unnatural position, is the term — as he threw himself into the block. It was a penalty, and Kuipers did his duty. The subsequent booking for Rose might have been correct by the rulebook but it seemed rather harsh. The infringement was plain, the intent less so.
Now there was uproar, particularly from the 17,500 in the Park Lane end who were afforded the closest view. Sergio Aguero stepped up, went right and Hugo Lloris saved magnificently — as he had done to deny Arsenal victory in the last minute of the north London derby. He hasn’t had the best season, Lloris, but those two penalty saves have been huge. This one served a dual purpose, knocking the stuffing out of City, too. There were just 10 minutes gone, but they never came that close again.
Until that point they had been the better team, dominating possession, completely in control, yet from there impetus dwindled. On the touchline, Guardiola grew hugely agitated, spotting flaws in the positioning of even his most influential players. It is rare to see David Silva singled out but Guardiola delivered one, and another for Sterling, too.
Kane’s left ankle turned under a challenge from Delph and the England captain was unable to complete the match as a result
Twenty-five-year-old Kane hopped off the pitch with Spurs fans fearing that the striker may not play again this season
Tottenham manager Pochettino had some words for Delph as a UEFA official stood between the pair on the touchline
Tottenham, meanwhile, grew stronger. The first goal attempt of the match was theirs after the outstanding Dele Alli volleyed over after eight minutes, and Kane forced the first save from Ederson after Kuipers played a smart advantage. Son was always dangerous, brought down by Sterling for a free-kick outside the box, and then coming close with two shots at the start of the second half.
Yet with 12 minutes to go the scores were level and Guardiola’s gambles seemed vindicated. A missed penalty from victory, but tied goalless with the home leg to come. As always, however, the result shifts opinion. Throwing De Bruyne and Leroy Sane on with minutes remaining only drew attention to the talent he had left in reserve. Delph’s sluggishness around the Son goal reminded one that he had made only one Champions League start this season and that the last time he was in a City shirt the team were 2-0 down to Swansea in the FA Cup, before he was substituted.
City survived that day, and they may survive from here. Tottenham’s last visit to the Etihad ended in a 4-1 defeat, and that was with Kane in the team. The bookmakers still make City favourites to progress. Yet, for those believing in omens, here is an interesting one: City have played five European ties against English opposition in their history, and have now lost all five. Sixth time lucky?
Son was pursued by team-mate Trippier as the South Korea international celebrated scoring the opening goal of the tie
Spurs players, including subs, mobbed Son as City winger Leroy Sane (right) watched on with a miserable look on his face
Tottenham’s win in London gives them hope of progression ahead of next week’s second leg at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium