Tottenham Hotspur proved to be the thorn in the side of Manchester City once again as they defeated last season’s champions 1-0 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Son Heung-min’s second-half strike was the difference on the Premier League’s opening weekend, with most of the attention of this fixture drawn towards the uncertain future of Harry Kane.
The England captain was left out of the Spurs squad altogether due to a lack of match fitness, meaning Son was thrust into action as the focal point of Espírito Santo’s team.
The South Korean popped up with yet another goal against Pep Guardiola’s side, stepping into the spotlight to round off a dogged and resilient performance against the reigning champions.
Resilient Tottenham Hotspur Down Manchester City in Opener
Tottenham’s Attacking Trio Cause City Problems
Throughout pre-season, Nuno typically used a front three to spearhead his attacking unit. The absence of Kane meant Son was deployed centrally, with wingers Steven Bergwijn and Lucas Moura either side of him.
The trio possess a frightening amount of pace, and they used that to great effect during the victory, once Spurs managed to grab a foothold in proceedings after a shaky opening 15 minutes.
Both Moura and Bergwijn were tireless in their pressing and used plenty of darting runs through the heart of midfield to push the City defence back – who themselves struggled to handle Spurs on the counter.
The trio’s work was rewarded on 55 minutes, when Son’s delightful curling effort broke the deadlock. Moura’s clever flick around Fernandinho on the edge of the Spurs box set Bergwijn free to counter. The rest of the work was all down to Son, who shifted away from Nathan Ake before firing a low effort past Ederson, who may have been put off by a blocking attempt by Ruben Dias.
A packed Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was almost celebrating again minutes later when Bergwijn raced through on the City goal after Moura had cleverly slipped him in, but he could only send his effort into the side netting.
Youngsters Japhet Tanganga and Oliver Skipp Make a Lasting Impression
Despite Spurs reportedly accepting a loan bid from Galatasaray for Japhet Tanganga, the academy graduate has vowed to fight for a place in Nuno’s side this season, and his performance will have laid down a strong marker.
Tanganga, effectively ‘did a job’ on the likes of Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish throughout the course of the game, managing to disrupt their usual direct style of play. The 22-year-old did receive a stern final warning from referee Anthony Taylor for persistent fouling, with Spurs captain Hugo Lloris also called over to the conversation.
But after that talking-to, Tanganga escaped without a booking and lasted until 83 minutes before being substituted to a rendition of “he’s one of our own” from the Spurs faithful – who typically, and exclusively use the chant for the absent Kane.
Tanganga, though, wasn’t the only academy graduate to shine against City, with Oliver Skipp presenting his case for consistent minutes under Espírito Santo. Fresh off a loan in the Championship with Norwich City, Skipp was kept busy and looked to disrupt City’s flow in his own way.
Skipp was placed alongside the ever-present Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Dele Alli, who also put in a mammoth defensive shift after Spurs took the lead, in what is likely to be a season of redemption for the 25-year-old.
England U21 international Skipp proved to be unfazed by the likes of Grealish and Ilkay Gundogan threatening in possession, as he made sensible challenges while emerging with the ball. But simply, Skipp kept Spurs moving when they had possession – ticking the play over which allowed Spurs to hit City on the counter time and again.
The Nuno Espírito Santo era could not have started any better at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
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