Geum Yi

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min nets winner in Premier League opener vs. Man City

August 16, 2021

Son Heung-min wasted little time making his mark on the new Premier League campaign, scoring Tottenham Hotspur’s winning goal in their season-opening victory over Manchester City.

Son’s left-footed shot from outside the box in the 55th minute sealed Spurs’ 1-0 win over the defending champion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday (local time).

Son, now in his seventh season with Tottenham, also put his new boss, Nuno Espirito Santo, on a victorious start to his Tottenham tenure.

Espirito Santo notably held Harry Kane, the Premier League’s leading scorer last season, out of the squad altogether, amid persistent speculation about a move to Man City. Kane only joined full training Friday and the Portuguese coach insisted his decision was based solely on Kane’s lack of preparation, not on his possible departure.

But no Kane, no problem for Tottenham, as Son still took care of business without his partner in crime.

“I think this means a lot for us, for the start of the season,” Son said in his postmatch interview. “First game, with the fans finally, it’s just an incredible performance.”

Man City became only the third Premier League champion to lose the opening match of the following season.

Man City had some early looks at the net, but Tottenham wrestled the control back midway through the first half.

In the 28th minute, Son took a left-footed shot after taking a pass from Steven Bergwijn, but the attempt deflected off an opposing defender.

But a dozen minutes later, Son fired one with his right foot from outside the box, after Lucas Moura found him on a fast break. Son’s shot hit defender Joao Cancelo, however, and bounced just wide of the net.

Son finally solved Man City 10 minutes into the second half.

Bergwijn ran through the middle on a counterattack chance and flicked a pass to Son speeding down the right side. With Nathan Ake guarding him, Son calmly cut toward the center of the box and launched a left-footed shot that found the bottom left corner, with the stunned goalkeeper Ederson barely moving from his spot.

Son now has seven goals against Man City since Pep Guardiola’s wildly successful reign began in 2016, behind only nine goals by Jamie Vardy of Leicester City.

Son nearly had his second goal of the match in the 79th minute, when his right-footed shot from the top of the box sailed wide right of the target.

True to form, Son deflected credit to everyone else around him.

“Everyone worked so hard to get these three points,” Son said. “Obviously, Man City are currently the best team in the world. We prepared really well, and we worked hard in the preseason. It showed on the pitch.”

As for Kane’s absence, Son said he and his mates weren’t caught up in any outside noise.

“We are all professionals. We wanted to focus on this game. It doesn’t matter who’s involved or who’s not,” Son said. “Obviously, Harry is so, so important for us. But let’s see.”

Son scored his Premier League personal-best 17 goals last season, while also netting 22 goals in all competitions to set a career high in that category. Fresh off that successful campaign, Son signed a new four-year deal last month that will keep him in North London through 2025.

Asked if he feels he can break his own record this year, Son smiled and said, while he couldn’t guarantee anything, he could promise his best effort.

“I’ll try to do my best game by game. I want to play for the team,” he said. “Individual things come up dramatically when I help the team. I am looking forward to the season. I want to help the team as much as I can.”