Tottenham 1-0 Manchester City: Helped by home atmosphere Spurs stand up to City and overcome VAR drama

 
Michael Searles
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Son Heung-min has scored at both of Spurs' games at their new stadium (Source: Getty)

Rarely has a team ever settled into a new home as quickly as Tottenham have at their new stadium.


It was just the second time in Spurs’ history that they had made the quarter-finals of the Champions League and the fans gave Mauricio Pochettino everything he had asked for.

“We hope the atmosphere is going to be amazing, tough for our opponent and help us perform in the way that we want,” the manager said before the match.

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The 60,044 fans inside the stadium responded in unison and acted as the 12th man the team needed against Premier League champions Manchester City.


The home fans chanted from start to finish, helped by the stadium’s ability to enhance sound, and carried their team to a 1-0 win which could help carry them into the last four.

VAR drama

But things could have gone very differently had Sergio Aguero converted from the spot after just 12 minutes, although many will feel justice was done.

It was not the first time during this season’s knockout stages that the use of the video assistant referee has caused the sort of controversy that it was brought in to eliminate.

The penalty, given for a Danny Rose handball, was very similar to the decision that went against Paris Saint-Germain’s Presnel Kimpembe against Manchester United in the last round.

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Manchester City got an early penalty for a Danny Rose handball (Source: Getty)

This time around it had less significance as Aguero’s effort was saved by Hugo Lloris, but the decision to award a penalty for the ball hitting the arm in a natural position when blocking a shot reopens the debate on what constitutes handball and whether or not the referee made a “clear and obvious error” that required overruling.

Officials say it was a penalty. Former players say it shouldn’t be. Either way, it’s something the governing bodies will have to look at ahead of next season.

Protagonists

Before the game Pochettino promised his side would “be brave, attack and be the protagonists” and his players lived up to that and more.

The front three of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-min pressured the City back line high up the pitch. Rarely has Pep Guardiola’s back four looked so uncomfortable in possession.

Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi in particular were caught off-guard on a handful occasions, but when in doubt they always had Ederson to rely on who, as ever, was unfazed by the occasion.

City may have had the better players on the pitch, but Spurs proved with their work ethic and attacking mentality that it was possible to conjure up goal-scoring opportunities against even the best.

It paid dividends in the 78th minute as Son beat Ederson from close range to give Spurs advantage in the tie.

City’s European woes

It is no secret that City have found matches in the Champions League more challenging than they tend to domestically, but even against English opposition they were unable to hit top gear.

In the last round Schalke gave them a scare as City scraped by with a 3-2 win in the first leg, while they lost and drew to Lyon in the group stages after last year’s capitulation to Liverpool at this same stage.

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Riyad Mahrez struggled to make an impact for City (Source: Getty)

Guardiola looked to keep things tight and City were close to keeping Spurs out but they will have to figure out a way around whatever mental barrier is preventing them from European success.

Kane limps off

It was the 157th time these two teams have met, but the first time they have faced each other in Europe. Neither side has extensive pedigree in the Champions League, but it was clear how much it meant to both in what was a hard-fought battle.

There was not so much of the free-flowing football we have come to expect from City as the visitors committed a number of desperate fouls throughout the match, although Spurs more than held their own.

Kane had the better of Otamendi in a physical battle that lasted 55 minutes until the England striker was forced off with injury after clashing in a 50-50 challenge with Fabian Delph on the touchline.

He hobbled straight down the tunnel, unable to put weight on his foot, leaving Spurs fans with a nervous wait to discover the extent of the problem.