OPPONENTS Manchester City at White Hart Lane
COMPETITION Champions League   Quarter final  First Leg
DATE Tuesday 9th April 2019
PREVIEW Usually, the Champions League throws up a challenge against an unknown entity from somewhere on the continent.  For the first time since we lost to Liverpool on away goals in the 1973 UEFA Cup, we face someone from our won shores.  It is like Brexit has happened already !

The known quantity of Manchester City is one that means that scouting against our visitors wasn't necessary, as we have faced them for at least twice a season for a long time.  Now it is three times in eleven days, as there is a league match to be squeezed in between the two Champions League games..

There is not much that I can say that hasn't been said about City, but since the Abu Dhabi royal family bought into the club, the riches at their disposal have brought them a squad rich in talent and what appears to be an attitude to financial fair play that has brought them a  lot of attention from UEFA.  Even if the squad had many injuries, then they would be able to bring in a top class replacement.

Ederson, Walker, Mendy, Laporte, Stones, De Bruyne, Aguero, Jesus, Mahrez, Sane, Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Otamendi ... all signed for big fees close to or exceeding our record signing.  The way City play, it is difficult to keep one man quiet, as others pop up  to do damage, but Spurs have had success in the past, although since Guardiola took over he is unbeaten.  Pochettino did have a decent record against the City manager when in Spain though.  The hard press that Spurs had been noted for is something that might give City problems, but they are able to move the ball quickly and the important thing is for Spurs not to concede early. 

De Bruyne's comments about the new stadium might have a ring of truth, in that they shouldn't be fazed by the noise or the surroundings, but if the Spurs crowd can get behind the team, it might help put come doubts into the City minds.  We need to create a hostile atmosphere to make the Lane a fortress again.

In comparison, without a signing in almost 18 months, Spurs have had to contend with playing away for that long and have maintained as level of performance that has outstretched their available resources.  Whatever the outcome of this round of matches, Spurs are batting above their average and the tie might hinge on us raising our game another notch.  Poch will have a plan, so let's hope the players can put it into effect.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    2        Manchester City   1
Tottenham are still without Serge Aurier through injury, but Fernando Llorente is back in training and could be available for the squad.  .

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Champions League  Quarter final  First Leg Kick off 20:00
Tottenham Hotspur  1 (0) Manchester City  0 (0)


Son  77m 48s



Rose (handball)  12 


Laporte (foul on Dele)  28
Mahrez  (foul on Lucas)  59


Crowd :   60,044 Weather :  -
Referee :  Bjorn Kuipers (HOL) Assistant Referees :  Mr. Sander van Roekel; Mr. Erwin Zeinstra  (HOL)
Fourth Official :  William Collum  (SCO) -
VAR Official :  Danny Makkelie  (HOL) Assistant VAR :  Pol van Boekel  (HOL)
UEFA Delegate :  Eduard Dervishaj (SPA) UEFA Referee Observer :  Jørn West Larsen (DEN)
Manchester City kicked off and played towards the Park Lane end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 8 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Manchester City : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
  3  Danny ROSE     

  8  Harry WINKS  (12  Victor WANYAMA  81)
7  Moussa SISSOKO

  7  Heung-Min SON 
20  DELE Alli  (18  Fernando LLORENTE  87)
Christian ERIKSEN

10  Harry KANE  (27  Lucas MOURA  58)

Unused subs: 
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ
33  Ben DAVIES
1  Juan FOYTH


  2  Kyle WALKER
  Nicolas OTAMENDI
14  Aymeric LAPORTE     
18  Fabian DELPH

26  Riyadh MAHREZ       (19  Leroy SANE  89)
  8  Ilkay GUNDOGAN
  -  David SILVA  (c)  (17  Kevin de BRUYNE  89)

  7  Raheem STERLING
10  Sergio AGUERO  (
33  Gabriel JESUS  71)

Unused subs: 
49  Arijnet MURIC
  4  Vincent KOMPANY
  5  John STONES
47  Phil FODEN

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Pep Guardiola
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Etihad Airways
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Nike
Match report

With a well-taken goal from Heung-Min Son, Spurs took a narrow lead from this first leg Champions League quarter final that was well-deserved in front of the huge, noisy crowd at White Hart Lane.

With City going for a haul of four trophies (excluding the Charity Shield), Spurs looked like the next team in their way who would be swept aside.  Their array of talent was not all on the pitch, with de Bruyne left on the bench, with Jesus and John Stones.  Spurs fielded the strongest side they had available, with Danny Rose at left back and Winks and Sissoko back in tandem in the defensive midfield coupling. 

Although Harry Kane almost charged down a clearance from a defender and nearly got to it before Ederson with 40 seconds on the clock, City were looking comfortable on the ball and David Silva was soon in the box, shooting into the side-netting, but from an offside position.  Tottenham had the first proper shot on goal when Sissoko raced away down the left and put a cross back to Dele, but the midfielder couldn't get over his volley that kept rising into the Paxton end.

What happened next is what the future holds for football.  Raheem Sterling launched a mazy run along the left wing, then cut in and kept going across the face of the 18 yard line before shooting at goal, with the ball deflected for a corner.  The referee pointed to the corner, Manchester City players were setting up for the corner, but the VAR official had other ideas and reviewed the action, as did the referee on the halfway line, before deciding that Danny Rose had put out an arm that the ball struck on its way towards goal.  It was a little bit unbelievable, as it was perhaps questionable whether Sterling's effort was even on target.  So City were handed a golden opportunity to open the scoring after just seven minutes and with Aguero stepping forward to take it, his goal-scoring record against Spurs looked set to add another notch to his total.  When he ran up to take it, it wasn't a very good penalty and was at a "good height for the keeper" as well as not being too close to him, as Hugo Lloris dived to his left to push away the third penalty in succession he has faced in the Premier League.

The noise spilling down on the pitch following the save must have shaken City, as they looked rattled in the next fifteen minutes.  Tottenham were reverting to their high press and City were misplacing passes and the sharpness of the tackling won the ball in advanced positions, allowing the full backs to get up and Trippier almost found Dele's head in the middle with one cross.  When City did get near the Tottenham goal, the back four were excellent in nicking the ball away or stepping in front of a purple and orange shirt to take it before it reached them.  The visitors' tackling was getting rash and Dele was brought down, but the ref played advantage, allowing Harry Kane to have a shot at goal, but Ederson got down behind the ball.  By the time Laporte was booked in the 28th minute, he could have already been there twice before for late tackles and Fernandinho was equally as guilty, if not more so.  When the French central defender got his yellow card, he was going mad and seemed to have lost his head, even pushing Delph away when he approached him to speak to him.  It looked only a question of time before he was sent off.

The pressure on City from Spurs was causing cracks to open and Winks drilled a shot well over from just outside the area before Danny Rose nut-megged his former team-mate Kyle Walker on the way to winning a corner.  Fernandinho cleared out Eriksen with his third poor tackle, but our free-kick came to nothing and when City broke away, Sissoko made a fine tackle on Sterling in the Spurs box.  Man City were trying to rough Tottenham up, but were none too subtle about it, so when Otamendi went over Kane's back (not for the first or last time), a free-kick gave Spurs a good chance, but Eriksen hit the wall and did the same with the rebound, but the ball was recycled, as Sonny created a chance for Toby with a low cross, but the effort was again blocked. 

When Fernandinho went up for a high bal with Kane, he lead with his arm into the back of Harry's neck and then when they landed, while on the floor, the City midfielder dug his elbow down into Kane's head.  Interesting that the VAR didn't see fit to protect the  safety of the players on the pitch, when he had been so eagle-eyed with the penalty.  A red would not been out of order for the offence, but by then the player should already have been dismissed for his other fouls. Another free-kick for Spurs was awarded following Sterling's foul on Son and from the right corner of the box, Danny Rose bent a low ball into a good area in the six yard box, but there was not a Spurs player trying tog et across their marker to guide it in, so it ran straight through to Ederson.  Just before half-time City broke and Aguero looked to fire a shot on goal, but it was a long way off target, as his shot early in the game was too.

Ledley was the half-time guest and as usual gave a wide eyed appreciation of the new ground, but when the action resumed, Lloris had to be on his toes straight away.  City broke away and Sterling got on the end of Aguero's ball across the area, forcing Hugo to beat the shot out.  Son tried a trademark curler with his left foot coming in fro the right, but the ball went inches wide before Toby got in the way at two City corners to keep the ball out of danger.  City were still looking a little edgy, with Son making Ederson save a straight shot and then Kane's long cross from the right wing saw the keeper come for it, but go over Otamendi, landing awkwardly in the process.  Then Kane went in to challenge Delph, but looked to twist his ankle, which Delph then stepped on.  It looked bad straight away and later replays showed his ankle flapping loosely and he hopped off the pitch and down the tunnel straight away.  It might be the last we see of him this season.  Lucas came on to replace him, showing good intent as he sped away from Fernandinho, but not Mahrez, who bundled him over and saw yellow.  He probably had the hump, that Danny Rose had defended him running at him in the Spurs area, while also dispossessing him of a glove in the process !

Most of City's best efforts on goal would have been disallowed for offside, while they were deflated every time they claimed a free-kick for a tough tackle with them going flying on occasion in an attempt to cheat the referee.  The offside decisions came more often after Jesus had replaced Aguero, but City had a short spell of pressure on the Tottenham goal, with Delph missing wide with a shot, Jesus putting a header over the top and SIlva's drive blocked by Winksy.  Son had gone down under challenge and needed treatment before resuming and the next thing you knew, Christian Eriksen lifted the ball across the box to him from the left, finding him unmarked and the Korean's poor touch made it look like the chance had gone.  He just about kept the bal in and looked to have taken a touch that gave Delph the opportunity to get a foot in, but it inadvertently was enough to take him past the left back, appealing that the ball had gone out, before firing a low left foot shot that zipped under Ederson and brought the house down.  The noise was incredible, but City surrounded the referee pressuring him to review the goal.  That happens anyway, but after a short review, the Dutch official pointed to the middle and the noise ramped up again. 

Spurs were using Lucas' pace to take the ball upfield and it was effective, but there were often not enough Spurs player sup with him to make much of the ball.  Llorente replaced Dele, who was tiring and seemed to pick up an injury to his hand when he went up for a header with Delph.  Fernando did well in his short time on the pitch, but worked hard and put in some nice touches.  Sonny struck another shot wide, when he should have got it on target before a double substitution by Guardiola brought Sane and de Bruyne into play. They didn't have an immediate impact, as Son again brought a save out of Ederson with a low effort, but de Bruyne put in a low near post cross that Hugo dived to cut out  Then in the last minute of six added minutes, a free kick saw Lloris come for it and punch the ball, unconvincingly up into the air, but Fernandinho won the header in the box, although he couldn't get it on target.

At the end of the game, the cheer was so loud and the players showed their appreciation to the crowd.  Luckily for Spurs, one moment of unprofessional behaviour from Delph, appealing for a goal-kick instead of concentrating on what was going on, had allowed Son to score.  Schoolboys are told to play to the whistle, but perhaps Delph doesn't think that is necessary when you play for City and you get the decisions you expect.  After the penalty, which looked harsh, the ball was nowhere near going out, so justice was done on both counts.

City's ineffectual performance was typified by their rough treatment and consistent moaning at the referee, showing their anxiety in not getting what they thought they should be getting.  Tottenham on the other hand put in an excellent performance that put the pressure on the visitors, by getting in their face and everyone did this to not allow City to play.  Their runs ended in a white shirt who got in their way and won the ball time after time.  The loose passing and lack of penetration in the runs of Sterling, Mahrez, Jesus and Aguero left Lloris with a fairly quiet evening to get through apart from his excellent penalty save that gave us a boost at the seart of the game..

It's only half-time as we are continually told, but 1-0 at half-time is a result we would take against City and while we have to travel to their ground for the second leg, an early goal could force City to try hard and this could allow the opportunity of a breakaway goal.  Without Kane, it could be tricky, but Son has stepped up in this game and in the past, while Lucas did well after he came on, as did Llorente.  The Spurs defence were superb tonight and the Wink's/Sissoko pairing worked tirelessly.

A good night without allowing an away goal, which could give us something to hang onto at the Etihad.  Mind you, it's always the hope that kills you !

Barry Levington

Match facts


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What you thought
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Other scores in the quarter final first legs :
Liverpool 2 FC Porto (POR) 0 Tuesday
Ajax (HOL) 1 Juventus (ITA) 1 Wednesday
Manchester United 0 Barcelona (SPA) 1 Wednesday


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