Son gets us off to winning start in City cracker - report and reaction
Spurs 1-0 Manchester City
Sun 15 August 2021, 18:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Heung-Min Son scored a wonderful winner as we opened our Premier League campaign for 2021/22 with an outstanding victory against reigning champions Manchester City on Sunday.
With a full house at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium for the first time since March, 2020, the team produced a performance of real character, determination and desire to initially quell City’s early onslaught and then hold firm in the face of some severe pressure in the closing stages, after Son had given us a lead to defend.
After a first half which saw 14 attempts on goal from the two sides – six for us and eight for the visitors – albeit surprisingly none on target, we opened the scoring 10 minutes after the interval with a stunner from Son, who curled home left-footed from the edge of the area. And it was so nearly 2-0 five minutes later, Steven Bergwijn through on goal down the left channel with just Ederson to beat but he fired wide.
City stepped up the pace in the closing stages as they looked for the equaliser, Ferran Torres poking wide from Joao Cancelo’s low cross, before Hugo Lloris saved shots from Jack Grealish and substitute Kevin De Bruyne. But we were defensively solid throughout the 90 minutes and didn’t relax until the final whistle blew, giving Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo victory in his first Premier League game in charge.
Home record over City continues
This was Manchester City’s fourth visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – and this was our fourth victory over them on our new home patch, with Pep Guardiola’s side failing to score in any of them. And we have now beaten City 16 times at home in the Premier League, a record we share with Liverpool over the blue half of Manchester.
Not that we could see such a result coming in the early stages of the contest, as the visitors started brightly with their forward players causing us plenty of problems. The first chance came on four minutes when Ilkay Gundogan’s right-foot free-kick skimmed off Oliver Skipp’s head and just cleared the crossbar. Then Fernandinho beat Hugo Lloris to Benjamin Mendy’s cross but headed just wide, before Joao Cancelo dragged wide on their next attack.
But for all City’s early possession, we were defending well – Japhet Tanganga in particular not giving Raheem Sterling an inch – and were able to turn the tide midway through the half as we worked our way into the contest. With 24 minutes on the clock, Davinson Sanchez’s header from Son’s free-kick looped up to Lucas Moura who connected well with the volley but Gundogan was back to block inside the six-yard box.
It was real end-to-end stuff at this stage, a City counter-attack ending with Riyad Mahrez inexplicably firing wide from 10 yards while at the other end, we launched a swift break of our own, Lucas drilling a pass in to Son who worked an angle before curling a shot just past Ederson’s far post. Replays showed it flicked off Cancelo but no corner was given.
We were ahead on 55 minutes thanks to Son’s wonderful strike. City were on the attack but we cleared our lines through Eric Dier’s header, with Lucas producing a lovely flick over his head to send Steven Bergwijn away. He laid the ball out wide to Son, who came off the right flank, cut inside Nathan Ake and hit a low curling drive that nestled in the back of the net.
The game could have been wrapped up five minutes later after another counter, Lucas surging past City’s midfield and as he was tackled, the ball popped out to Bergwijn who only had Ederson to beat, but skewed his shot wide. It could have been a pivotal moment in the game but we didn’t let it affect us and knuckled down to the job in hand, namely keeping it tight at the back, continuing to match City’s physicality in midfield and look for the breakaways when the chances arose. There was also a debut for new signing Cristian Romero in the closing stages as we saw the game out.
The fact that City only had sporadic half chances in the final half-hour said much about the level of our performance and when the final whistle sounded and the flags flew in celebration, it felt good!
Hugo equals record
Club captain Lloris equalled our all-time record for the most Premier League appearances by a single player, joining Darren Anderton on 299 games.
Son enjoys scoring against Manchester City. Since joining us, he has only scored more goals in all competitions against Southampton (11) than he has against Manchester City (7). The South Korean international has now scored in all four of his appearances against the Citizens at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Nuno, meanwhile, becomes only the second Head Coach/manager to win his first Premier League game in charge of a club against the reigning champions. Before this, there had been 20 different previous such occasions, with just one winning (Mike Phelan for Manchester United v Leicester in 2016/17).
Reaction on Spurs TV
“That was the idea - going beyond your limits, and I think everybody saw this today,” said Nuno after the match. “The boys go beyond... the fight, the discipline, the way they commit themselves was very good. This is what we have to do every day of our lives. We are starting, it’s the beginning, the first official game of the season, and we have to recover. Now we go to Portugal (Pacos de Ferreira in the Europa Conference League on Thursday evening), and we think about the next one. Now, what’s important is tomorrow, the commitment of recovering well and preparing for the next game.”
Highlights on Spurs TV
Spurs 1-0 Manchester City
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Tanganga (Doherty 83), Dier, Sanchez, Reguilon, Hojbjerg (Romero 90), Skipp, Bergwijn (Lo Celso 77), Dele, Lucas, Son. Substitutes (not used): Gollini, Davies, Winks, Sissoko, Bryan, Scarlett.
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Mendy (Zinchenko 79), Grealish, Fernandinho (c), Gundogan, Mahrez (De Bruyne 79), Torres, Sterling (Jesus 70). Substitutes (not used): Steffen, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Rodrigo, Bernardo.
Goal: Spurs – Son 55.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Lucas, Sanchez; City - Grealish.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Weather: Sunny intervals, moderate breeze, 22 degrees.