Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has admitted that he doubted the decision of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino during his side’s Champions League second leg tie against Manchester City.
Spurs were beaten 4-3 on Wednesday night away to Manchester City, but that meant they progressed to the Champions League semi-finals on the away rule after a 4-4 aggregate scoreline.
The North London club had to battle through plenty of adversity in the game, which included losing key midfielder Moussa Sissoko before half-time through injury.
Pochettino responded by bringing on centre-forward Fernando Llorente in an attack-minded change and was rewarded when the Spaniard score the vital third goal for the visitors.
Merson wasn’t certain if bringing on the striker was the right call, but the decision was justified in the end.
“Tonight, when Pochettino put Llorente on I thought ‘I’m not sure about this, this is early’. I’d have gone Heung-min Son up front [and put someone else on], who has a bit of pace. But in the end, it paid off,” Merson said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“Fair play to Pochettino. I’m a big fan of his and he deserves it. There have been a lot of injuries, their bench wasn’t mouth-watering. We always sit there and say City were unlucky but credit where credit is due for Tottenham.”
Llorente has mainly played a fringe role during his time with Spurs, but has a habit of popping up with key goals and did so again in midweek.
There was a hint of fortune about the 34-year-old’s vital goal, as it was looked at by VAR and some feel he may have hit his hand.
The Spaniard has made just 28 appearances across all competitions this campaign, scoring eight goals and supplying five assists in return.
He could still have a vital role to play during the remainder of the campaign and is proving to be an underrated member of the squad.