can they ride it out?
Not for the first time, when Harry Kane left the field stricken, others stepped up to fill the gap and yet again Son Heung-min took it upon himself to be the main man, as he scored the winner against Man City in the Champions League quarter final.
Have Spurs been saving themselves for this?
If Spurs had played like they did in the first leg of this quarter final, along with the way they played against Dortmund in the previous round, they would be closer to the top of the league rather than in a fight for a top four place.
In these games there’s been a collective solidity and concentration that’s been missing ion so many games this season. When was the last time they played with such command against City? Pep’s first loss in England?
When Spurs were on top and didn’t capitalise, you expected the worst. When Harry went straight off, not even trying to run it off like he usually attempts, you thought the worst. When City got on top, you expected the worst.
But then wasn’t the worst expected before kick-off?
Things were helped by Pep. Mahrez in but no Sane or de Bruyne starting. No Silva B anywhere, helped as well.
What also helped was Sissoko and Winks in the middle of the park. Yup, didn’t expect to write those words. They did their job and did it as well as they’ve ever done. Winks finest outing? They cut out stuff through the middle, so City went wide and were stifled there – they were struggling to maintain Sterling as the greatest player to ever live. When the ball got to Aguero, which wasn’t that often, Vertonghen was there to snuff that out.
Up until the final few minutes, Lloris had little to do apart from save the penalty.
The penalty that would never have been had it not been for VAR. VAR is supposed to correct clear and obvious mistakes, yet everyone saw the incident, all the players and the officials on the park and yet non of the City players claimed for it and no official gave it a first thought, never mind a second one, and then the ref – one of the games show ponies – has his finger in his ear, runs over to the sideline and then points to the spot.
Keith Hackett said it was a penalty… so there you have it conclusive proof it wasn’t.
Rose did pushed another player, was it Mahrez can’t remember, in the box a little later, than had more claim for a penalty. He was rescued by Hugo making yet another penalty save. Remember the old days when Hugo didn’t make the repeated howlers but got nowhere near a spot kick? Aguero’s attempt summed up his night.
Can anyone that’s watched Dutch, Spanish, German or Italian football have any faith in VAR. The amount of howlers it produces weekly shows that when you have officials in front of the telly that are as bad as those on the pitch, it won’t solve anything.
I mean just look minutes later when Fernandinho put his forearm into Harry’s head not once but twice on the floor. Violent conduct… nothing. No finger in ear, no checking the replay. Nowt. It’s a red and it’s typical of a player who gets away with it. The opposition wins the ball and Fernandinho is always first there to foul them, smile at the player as he lifts them, smiles at the ref and gets away with just a free-kick. Every time.
While Hugo can now save penalties, Eriksen can’t get a set piece beyond the first defender. His free kicks were atrocious, though should one of them have been a penalty instead? Sterling holding onto Son as the Korean made his way into the box. Now isn’t a foul that starts outside the box but carries on into it not meant to be a penalty. Sterling let the ref know that penalising him wasn’t on, he’s untouchable now.
That first half was a hell of a confident performance but they didn’t score. That volley from Dele would have been a cracker. Harry was dominating their centre-backs and playing some glorious balls, the feigning injury could be done without. He wasn’t feigning when he went off just before the hour. Straight down the tunnel, it really doesn’t look good.
You could say a needless challenge, Delph going nowhere, doing nothing. Though not at fault for the injury. Kane’s foot was slipping before the contact and his ankle had already turned when Delph’s foot landed on him. Harry and his ankles… they’re his kryptonite. Harry has returned quickly from this type of thing before but this, it really looks like a season ender.
And at the moment all was lost. City finally got into the game, that out ball wasn’t being held up as well and they were camped out around the Spurs area.
Spurs though were bending but not breaking and finally took their chance.
When Harry falls, Son steps up. What do I keep saying… Son scores important goals, he may have scored the first one at the new stadium, this one was more important. A lovely ball from Eriksen to Son, who made a great run, his first touch wasn’t that good but ironically probably helped, as the ball headed towards the byline, it didn’t fully cross it though and while the City defenders appealed Son had stopped it dead, turned back, made space past the inept Delph – who can only be there to make Walker look good – and fired under the keeper.
Son pointing to the badge celebrating in front of the South stand. Glorious.
Pep had removed the ineffectual Aguero but luckily didn’t bring on Sane and de Bruyne until two minutes before the 90 were up. They couldn’t influence the game, though City did more in the six minutes added time than they’d done in the previous 90. And we did see something in those final few minutes, Eriksen chase back and stop a breakaway with a tackle.
One goal, a clean sheet at half-time. Score there, they need three, it’s not gonna be as easy as that though, is it… it’s Spurs after all…