Harry Kane was left out of the squad as Son Heung-Min’s strike saw Tottenham kick off the Nuno Espirito Santo era with a superb 1-0 victory at home to champions Manchester City.
The England captain has been the subject of transfer interest from Pep Guardiola’s Citizens throughout the summer and was conspicuous by his absence in a hard-fought encounter.
Kane only returned to training on Friday and the official line was that he wasn’t even fit enough to feature on the bench. It initially looked like the Lilywhites would rue his exclusion as they struggled to make the most of some excellent first-half counter attacks until Son conjured up a moment of magic when he cut inside to rifle home on the break on 55 minutes.
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The visitors had dominated for much of the opening period and made a fast-paced start with Jack Grealish looking dynamic and dangerous early on in his Premier League bow for City.
Fernandinho and Riyad Mahrez both went close for the champions while at the other end Lucas Moura had a shot blocked on the line.
However, City lacked urgency following the interval and showed just why they are in the market for a striker as they struggled to test Hugo Lloris. Spurs were always a threat on the counter and could have won more handsomely but Steven Bergwijn fizzed a glorious chance into the side netting.
Man City will now aim to bounce back at home to Premier League newcomers Norwich next Saturday. Spurs have a Europa Conference League qualifying play off at Pacos de Ferreira on Thursday before Nuno visits his old club Wolves on Sunday.
Harry who? This was pretty much the perfect reward for Nuno after a tough beginning to life at Tottenham given all of the focus on Kane. In the absence of their one-time talisman, his players produced a real show of unity and deservedly picked up the points after brilliantly executing the tactics to hit the champions on the break.
Sadly, much of the post-match focus will be on Kane but this result will at least lift Spurs fans going into this new campaign and offer them hope and belief that a bright future lies ahead regardless of where their star striker is come the end of the transfer window.
As for City, this match will only intensify Pep Guardiola’s determination to bring in a forward given they have yet to replace Sergio Aguero. They created opportunities but in the second half they lacked a focal point to their attack and found it difficult to cut through a well-drilled home defence.
There are also a few issues at the back the Spaniard will look to remedy with John Stones sure to come in for the shaky Nathan Ake and be reunited with Ruben Dias while question marks remain over Benjamin Mendy at left back.
Grealish in action on his City debut
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MAN OF THE MATCH
Lucas Moura (Tottenham). The Brazilian was a magnificent link between defence and attack. His non-stop running was a real issue for City for large parts of the contest as he combined superbly with Bergwijn and Son to offer the home side a pacy alternative to the focal point Kane brings to the table.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 7, Tanganga 8, Sanchez 8, Dier 8, Reguilon 8, Hojbjerg 8, Skipp 8, Moura 9, Alli 8, Bergwijn 8, Son 9. Subs: Lo Celso 6, Doherty n/a, .
MAN CITY: Ederson 6, Cancelo 7, Dias 7, Ake 6, Mendy 6, Fernandinho 6, Gundogan 7, Mahrez 6, Grealish 7, Sterling 6, Torres 7. Subs: Jesus 6, Zinchenko 6, De Bruyne 7.
5’ – MAN CITY CHANCE! Fernandinho beats Lloris to Mendy's whipped cross from the left following a short corner, but sees his header fly just wide of an empty goal. The Spurs keeper was fortunate there.
24’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Ederson comes to claim a free kick but doesn't get there. The ball drops for Lucas Moura on the far right of the box and he catches his shot brilliantly, but Gundogan is well placed on the line to hack it away.
35’ – MAN CITY CHANCE! Mahrez skews well wide from 10 yards out after Sterling had clipped a ball into his path from the left side of the area.
40’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Spurs cause trouble for City once again on the break. Son has been guilty of over-elaborating at times but this time he doesn’t and curves a 20-yard shot just wide of Ederson's left-hand post.
55’ - GOAL! – Tottenham 1-0 Man City. Son cuts in from the right past Ake and rifles a low shot into the far corner after another superb counter attack involving Lucas Moura and Bergwijn.
60’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! It should be two! Spurs carve City open on the break once more. It's fed to Bergwijn on the left and he bears down on Edersen before flashing a shot into the side netting.
70’ – MAN CITY CHANCE! So close for the visitors from a well worked free kick. Gundogan feeds it wide to Cancelo who drills a low ball into the six-yard box, but Torres somehow can't convert.
Son was the Tottenham hero
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Son Heung-min has scored seven goals in all competitions against Manchester City, including in all four meetings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Guardiola has now lost more away games against Spurs in all competitions than against any other opponent away from home (5). All five have come while in charge of Manchester City, with each of the last four coming at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Spurs manager Nuno Espírito Santo has won three Premier League games against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City (previously twice with Wolves); the joint-most of any coach, along with Jürgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and José Mourinho.
Spurs’ victory marked just the third time in Premier League history that the reigning champions have been beaten in their opening game of a campaign, following defeats for Leicester City in 2016-17 and Chelsea in 2017-18.
In Premier League history, only one side has lost their opening game of a season and gone on to win the title, with Manchester United doing so on three occasions (1992-93, 1995-96 & 2012-13).
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