Prospective naming-rights partners will have to move quickly. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is fast becoming the House of the Rising Son.
Having claimed a moment of history by opening Spurs’ account here against Crystal Palace last week, the effervescent Son Heung-min stepped up to hand Mauricio Pochettino’s side a slender Champions League quarter-final advantage on a night of raucous passion in north London.
The opening seconds set the tone for how much of the first half would unfold for Manchester City, who were entitled to feel they had weathered the storm before falling to a quadruple compromising 1-0 defeat.
Nicolas Otamendi blundered an attempted hoof into Harry Kane and the ball looped towards the visiting penalty area, a guttural roar cutting through the cool evening air.
Ederson wandered to the edge of his penalty area and pouched the ball at waist height, a catch that would have looked more at home in a village green cricket match than the white-hot heat of a showpiece European fixture.
Of course, Ederson’s opposite number Hugo Lloris made the outstanding goalkeeping contribution of the game by keeping out Sergio Aguero’s tame 13th-minute penalty, but the Brazil international’s capacity to operate at a frankly ludicrous level of nonchalance held together fraying nerves around him for long periods. It was impossible to imagine him in the role of culprit that he would eventually fill.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 9, 2019
Kevin De Bruyne, stationed on the City bench, perhaps had cause to reconsider his pre-match “everyone has a stadium, everyone has supporters” comments.
When Spurs’ bold and energetic attacks clicked, there was an obvious sense of crowd and team working in unison as Pochettino’s men rumbled forward relentlessly.
Dele Alli, too often a becalmed figure this season, was a force of nature – all over a compelling contest that was frantic where City craved fluidity. The fact they were forced to play on their opponents’ terms for most of the match will encourage Spurs heading into their Etihad Stadium double-header next week.
The plan was clear. Tottenham wanted to enact a quick kill, just as Liverpool did at Anfield last season and just as Pep Guardiola has suffered in this competition before at the hands of Real Madrid and Monaco.
Otamendi, at once City’s most physically imposing and rash defender, was bullied at times by Kane and Alli, who drew Aymeric Laporte into a clumsy foul and a yellow card before the half hour.
All the while, Ederson played with a detachment more Hackney Marshes than White Hart Lane, showing sure handling behind a crowd of bodies and saving sharply from Kane to enjoy more work in 45 minutes than he has for a couple of months.
Spurs could not bring Guardiola’s house tumbling down as Liverpool did, not with his heavily tattooed doorman impassively unmoved – at least until he took his eye off the ball near closing time.
In the sort of brutal landing this stadium will see more of when the NFL comes to town, Ederson clattered heavily onto the turf in the 53rd minute. Panic ensued on the away bench but passed before a much bigger blow seemed to take the wind out of Tottenham.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 9, 2019
All of England’s feelgood Russia 2018 vibes were forgotten as Fabian Delph thundered into a challenge with Kane and gave his national-team captain a volley of abuse for good measure. Kane was not able to return fire as he was helped down the tunnel, a season potentially in ruins.
Still the re-housed locals roared, but now more in hope and tension than expectation. A sharp cameo from Gabriel Jesus gave City’s attacks more poise and the revised script without Spurs’ leading man read pretty clearly.
It was one Son refused to acknowledge as he ransacked Delph and blasted a strike through Ederson’s grasp. Not in this stadium. Not in his stadium.
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