Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur put their disappointing Matchday 1 defeat behind them in the UEFA Champions League, securing a very hard earned win in Moscow after Son Heung-Min’s 71st minute goal proved enough to seal a 1-0 away win over Russian club CSKA. It was a case of domination met with frustration for Spurs, who enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and probed relentlessly until South Korea international Son eventually shattered the hosts’ resistance.
It was a must win for Pochettino’s men, and they got the result they craved on testing turf to ensure they go into Matchday 3 against Bayer Leverkusen second in Group E on three points, one behind Monaco who sit top going into their double header with CSKA.
Here’s what the media made of the hard fought victory ground out by Pochettino’s men in Moscow:
Matt Law wrote in the Telegraph that Spurs had to be persistent as they sought out their crucial victory, though despite South Korea’s Son Heung-Min hitting his fifth goal in five games, manager Mauricio Pochettino resisted the urge to break into a full verse despite proclaiming that Son is on fire:
“Tottenham had to be patient for their vital win, as Son followed up his brace against Middlesbrough in the Premier League with a 71st-minute goal in Russia that got Pochettino’s team off the mark in Group E following their defeat to Monaco.
“Pochettino did not quite recite the popular Will Grigg song, but clearly had it on his mind when he said with a grin: “I’m very pleased for Sonny, he’s on fire. For him to keep this form is very important.”
His latest strike in Moscow follows up Premier League braces at Stoke City and Middlesbrough, and Law was also quick to stress just how Son was able to put a poor Matchday 1 against Monaco behind him, after the ineffective Vincent Janssen was replaced by Georges-Kevin N’Koudou in order to allow the in-form Son; who had been playing out wide, to go central. A move which ultimately came up trumps.
“It was Son who had been dragged off at half-time in the opening Group E defeat to Monaco at Wembley, but the 24-year-old was very much the hero after being moved into the middle in Russia.
Akinfeev may be disappointed that he did not prevent Son’s shot from squeezing under his body, but Tottenham and Pochettino will not care. They will hope Sonny’s fire keeps burning for some time”.
Son’s impact was also grabbing the headlines in the Daily Mail, with Matt Barlow reflecting on his role which is becoming rapidly more important to the Spurs cause. Though Barlow approached his impact with a progressive stance, Pochettino’s men having showed inspiration to grind out a result on tough terrain in Europe’s premier competition having left the mediocrity of being consigned to the Europa League year upon year behind:
“Climbing high into the sky from one corner of the new and fabulously shiny Arena CSKA is a tower designed to resemble the Europa League trophy. CSKA Moscow lifted it in 2005 when it was known as the UEFA Cup, becoming the first Russian club to triumph in European competition and this is their over-sized reminder.
“For Tottenham, it loomed large as if part-warning and part-inspiration as they clinched a crucial victory with another goal from the suddenly prolific Heung-min Son. The Korean winger now has five in as many games. This one, 19 minutes from time, was precious, as it delivered Spurs the first win of this Champions League campaign after years of Thursday night toil in the Europa League.”
The BBC‘s Phil Dawkes chose to focus on the fact that this latest win shows lessons have been learnt by Tottenham, after their inability to be clinical along with defensive lapses cost them dearly against Monaco, and despite initial indications that the same would be exhibited here, they persevered to great effect, albeit courtesy of CSKA’s own lacklustre finishing:
“The relief of the goal was clear to see in the Tottenham players, who had just started to show signs of frustration following 70 minutes during which they had plenty of possession but too often failed with their final ball or fired efforts off target.
“In their opening game against Monaco they lacked concentration at the back and an inability to capitalise on chances at the other end, and there were echoes of this in Moscow. Thankfully for the London side, CSKA do not possess Monaco’s ruthless edge and wasted the good chances that came their way, Zoran Tosic twice curling shots wide of goal”.
Patrick Surlis of Sky Sports was in comparison quick to credit the North London club for the way they set about dominating the game, and how they restricted the hosts to little joy on the night:
“The visitors swiftly took control, monopolising possession and creating the better opportunities. Spurs, who lost their opening match at home to Monaco, were made to wait at the Arena CSKA but Son popped up with his fifth goal in his last five appearances to seal their first points of the European campaign.
“Dele Alli had earlier struck the woodwork as Mauricio Pochettino’s side dominated their Russian opponents, who were largely restricted to shots from distance.”
Darren Wells for the Mirror chose to hone in on Vincent Janssen’s performance, and how he is struggling to turn effort into real impact for his new club:
With Harry Kane ruled out through injury, the Dutchman lead the line as lone striker, but looked off the pace in a largely ineffective performance. The summer acquisition was making his first Champions League start and the step up in class showed as he struggled to make an impact and was caught offside on more than one occasion. Janssen’s pace and movement was pale in comparison to Kane’s and he was substituted just after the hour having failed to manage a shot on target.
“He did have the ball in the back of the net once, only to be denied by the offside flag, but having yet to score in open play since his summer move, it remains to be seen whether he can recapture the form that saw him score 27 goals for AZ Alkmaar last season.”
It wasn’t Wells’ only focus however, and he went onto praise the gritty performance put in by Tottenham’s defence and its important to the success of Pochettino’s side. On the night there was also a start for Kieran Trippier, with Kyle Walker having been rested ahead of Spurs’ weekend clash with Manchester City in the Premier League:
“Despite conceding two goals against Monaco last time out in this competition, Spurs barely gave CSKA Moscow a sniff at goal all night with commanding performances from Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen at the back. Even Kieran Trippier’s inclusion ahead of Kyle Walker made little difference, as the former Burnley full-back slotted into the defence nicely and provided a good outlet for Spurs going forward too.
“Having only conceded three goals in six games in the Premier League so far this season, Spurs strength lies in defence and teams will find it hard to break them down when they’re in form like this.”
Tottenham and manager Mauricio Pochettino will now look forward to a Super Sunday clash with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Premier League, where they will wish to continue their good form against the only side in the division with a 100% record intact.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Ai Kagou.