Match report and free highlights as Heung-Min Son seals morale-boosting victory for Tottenham against Premier League champions Manchester City; Harry Kane watches on from the stands as Spurs make their point
Monday 16 August 2021 05:55, UK
Nuno Espirito Santo's Tottenham reign got off to the perfect start as his side shocked champions Manchester City with a 1-0 win courtesy of Heung-Min Son's second-half strike on a pulsating Super Sunday.
With the preamble to this standout fixture in the Premier League's opening weekend dominated by the future of Harry Kane, it was once more Son who stepped up to the mark, deciding a fiercely-competitive contest with his precise finish on 55 minutes.
City rarely threatened in response as Kevin de Bruyne was belatedly introduced to draw a fine save from Hugo Lloris but Spurs held on to secure three points that represents a major statement of intent after a summer of turmoil off the pitch.
The result continues their recent stronghold over City, who have now lost on all four of their visits to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in all competitions, the first time Pep Guardiola has lost four such away games in a row in his managerial career.
Tottenham: Lloris (7), Tanganga (8), Sanchez (7), Dier (7), Reguilon (7), Hojbjerg (7), Skipp (6), Moura (8), Alli (7), Bergwijn (8), Son (8).
Subs: Doherty (n/a), Lo Celso (6), Romero (n/a).
Man City: Ederson (6), Cancelo (6), Dias (7), Ake (6), Mendy (5), Fernandinho (5), Gundogan (6), Mahrez (6), Grealish (7), Sterling (6), Torres (5).
Subs: Jesus (6), Zinchenko (6), De Bruyne (6).
Man of the match: Japhet Tanganga
"There's no perfection," Espirito Santo said afterwards. "We still have a long way to go and we'll probably never achieve it but I'm very thankful for the supporters. The way they helped the players in the final stages was huge and we're very thankful for it."
As the clock wound down, they chanted: "Are you watching Harry Kane?" He had, and here was a reminder of just why City are so keen to prise him away. Guardiola has 17 days to come up with an answer - but his side began strongly.
Jack Grealish made his first penetrative dart inside three minutes, drawing a clumsy foul from Oliver Skipp on the edge of the area.
Ilkay Gundogan pulled rank on Riyad Mahrez with his curled effort clipping the wall on its way just over. From the resulting corner, Grealish played short to Benjamin Mendy as Fernandinho rose in front of Lloris to meet his cross only to head inches wide.
Spurs were slow to get going as a pedestrian clearance from Eric Dier moments later was snapped up by Joao Cancelo in front of Skipp, but the full-back dragged his effort wide. The City fans were enjoying their trip to London, goading their opponents with chants of 'Harry Kane, he wants to be Blue'.
The hosts would grow into the first half, spurred on by a partisan crowd. Midway through the opening act, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sniped Mendy and found Steven Bergwijn to his left. The Dutchman cut inside but found the door slammed shut by Ruben Dias at the expense of a corner. Son's subsequent set piece was inches too high for Japhet Tanganga.
Minutes later and another dead-ball situation caused angst in the City rear-guard as Ederson came and didn't claim under pressure from Davinson Sanchez. The ball broke loose to Lucas Moura, whose shot was hacked off the line by Gundogan.
Nuno grimaced when another opportunity went begging as Bergwijn ran into acres of space vacated by City's strung midfield, selflessly setting up Son but the move lost impetus as the retreating Cancelo wouldn't allow him inside.
Sky Sports' Gary Neville said on commentary: "It is twice that he has done that, Son. Getting into really good positions and just going back."
City very nearly made the South Korean pay with 10 minutes of the half remaining as Raheem Sterling's deflected cross fell kindly for Mahrez 10 yards out, but his half volley veered wide with Lloris rooted.
Tottenham's chief threat remained Son, however, and he came within a whisker of making amends for his previous poor choices as at the third attempt of working the ball onto his right boot, the slightest of deflections off Cancelo denied him from finding Ederson's bottom corner.
A lively first half ended with no shots on target for either side, as news emerged that Kane was in the stands. Dele Alli was enjoying a quietly effective game as the opening exchanges of the restart resembled a basketball match.
It was Alli who was too quick for Fernandinho as he drove at the City defence, fed Hojbjerg to his right but Dias was again perfectly-placed to cut out the cross for Son. Then it was City's turn, as Grealish and Sterling combined to set up Gundogan only for Sanchez to make a vital block.
"This is what we want - both teams taking chances," said Neville.
Alli had the ball taken off his head by Son from Tanganga's cross but the pair would be celebrating the opener from Tottenham's next attack. City had looked susceptible all day to the counter and after Moura's delicious flick into Bergwijn, Son darted across to the right to receive his pass.
Nathan Ake was drawn wide and couldn't readjust his feet quick enough as the forward chopped inside and speared his shot through Dias, beyond Ederson and into the corner. It sparked joyous scenes, and the cacophony of noise was so nearly prolonged by a quickfire Spurs second.
The excellent Moura again found a pocket of space in between City's defence and midfield as Fernandinho's desperate lunge only diverted the ball beyond Cancelo and into Bergwijn's path but the winger screwed his effort horribly wide.
This was a win that mattered more than most to the buoyant Spurs supporters. Guardiola grew increasingly agitated as Gundogan's quick free-kick led to Cancelo's cutback towards Ferran Torres being sliced behind by Sanchez.
Guardiola turned to Gabriel Jesus in place of the fading Sterling, and the Brazilian came close to creating the equaliser as he found Grealish's inside the box but his shot from the angle drew a comfortable save from Lloris. It was City's first attempt on target, coming in the 74th minute.
De Bruyne was introduced in the final 10 minutes as City moved to three at the back yet it was Tottenham who would come close to a second as Son showed good hold-up play before shaping another trademark shot just wide.
De Bruyne was invited to shoot as Lloris palmed his drive from range to safety but there would be no dramatic denouement as the Tottenham fans took the acclaim at the final whistle.
Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo: "It was good I think. The atmosphere was special off the hard work of the boys. They make any crowd proud when they work so hard.
"It was strong. We were lucky because they had chances but the boys held on and they stayed in the game. We knew it would be tough. After that first 20 minutes we did better and we started getting our chances. In the first half we didn't finish so good. When we should have shot on goal we didn't do it.
"Not only him [Japhet Tanganga]. In terms of shape and our organisation the front three worked very hard and closed the gaps. It's very difficult to play against City with the way they build the first moment. It requires a lot of discipline so the boys did OK.
"I'm sure that with commitment and the talent we have, we will be a good team. We are in the process of that. I am learning every day and I am very proud of them today, very proud."
On Harry Kane: "Look, Harry Kane is one of the best players in the world, honestly. We are very lucky to have him. He has to get ready and help the team. We still have to go to Portugal then we think about Wolves.
"Harry, like Bryan and Cristian, they joined us later so for Cristian and for Bryan it was very important to be with us today to feel the atmosphere and feel the meetings. Harry worked this morning and he is preparing himself. When he's ready he will join the group and the team."
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola: "In general, we arrived in the final third many times but were not clinical enough. We are more or less the same team from last season but we are missing some people. Kevin [de Bruyne] hadn't completed a full training session. We've lost the last three games 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0 so we have to do better.
"We tried everything to win. We have another week ahead to get players back and hopefully they can, step by step. This sometimes happens. We arrived many times in the final third but it was the same story. We are good enough to score plenty of goals and I'm sure we're going to do it.
"You've seen the stats against the Tottenham. They're always quite similar. They're a good team and it's always tough. It's not easy to control the ball and Son makes very good movement on the transition. Moura makes you defend deeper but we lost simple balls.
"Two days ago, we were together as a group for the first time but it will take time. We have to be more precise in the simple things. We need greater accuracy with our crosses. The result is not good but I've seen many things that can help us in the future.
On Jack Grealish's display: "He had an influence and got fouled a few times very early on. He's a player who is so dangerous close to the box and he plays with real personality. He'll be very important for us and I congratulate him for trying right up until the end."
Tottenham forward Heung-min Son told Sky Sports:
"Obviously we wanted to start well in the first game of the season and with the fans. It was an incredible performance and everyone worked so hard to get these three points. Manchester City are currently the best team in the world so we fought for the three points and it means a lot to us at the start of the season.
"It's a great evening. We have missed the fans. Football is all about the fans. We played for them and support them. They meant a lot for me and for us. I am grateful they come to the stadium and support us. I really enjoyed this afternoon.
"We did a great job. We know Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world so we prepared really well. We worked hard in pre-season and we showed that on the pitch. The fans saw we are dangerous so it was a really good game."
On beating last season's goal tally: "There is no promise. I will try to do my best game-by-game. I will try to play for the team. The individual results will come automatically. We will see at the end of the season if I beat this record or not."
On Harry Kane: "We are all professional. We wanted to focus on this game no matter who is involved or not. Obviously Harry is so, so important for us. But let's see. Last season we didn't start well against Everton so we started well. I just want to enjoy this afterwards."
Nuno had spoken in his programme notes of wanting his Spurs team to be 'brave and unique' and Tanganga epitomised his side's courageous approach when faced with the abundance of attacking talent down City's left flank.
Spurs are eager to find a buyer for Serge Aurier while the 22-year-old was preferred to Matt Doherty at right-back, and here he repaid his manager's faith. City had looked to target Tanganga, but he showed immense discipline despite his tender years.
Gary Neville told Sky Sports: "He is my man of the match. It could have been Lucas Moura but I just think generally his performance and the way that he dealt with Raheem Sterling, an outstanding player for England in the Euros, he just nicked it."
On Tanganga's display, Nuno added: "I think he did well. He was in the process of recovering from injury at the start of pre-season but he's been able to keep growing. Japhet was huge today. He faced many one-v-ones today against fantastic players and he dealt extremely well with the situation."
Sky Sports' Gary Neville:
"It felt like there was a cloud over Spurs in pre-season because of the Harry Kane situation. But those Spurs players have demonstrated, to their owner and to their fans, that they have great togetherness and spirit. They were absolutely brilliant.
"I've got no doubts about Manchester City. For 15 minutes against Spurs they were breath-taking and they could have quite easily gone one or two goals up. I'm not overly worried about them longer term.
"They'll probably win the title and if they do get Harry Kane, to be honest with you, it's a pretty sure thing I would say because once they get the goal up front, which is what they were missing today, then they'll be fine.
"The defence will strengthen when Kyle Walker and John Stones come back in. They've got so many players to come back in it's untrue."
Sky Sports' Graeme Souness:
"Tottenham were gritty. They dug in. They were physical. I don't think you could say that City were unlucky. I think Spurs just about deserved that."
Tottenham travel to Espirito Santo's old stomping ground Molineux to take on Wolves next Sunday at 2pm while Manchester City host Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.