Heung-Min Son’s second-half strike earned Spurs a well-deserved win away at CSKA Moscow, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side bounced back their disappointing loss to Monaco at Wembley. Tottenham were missing some key players in Russia; Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Moussa Dembele.
However, they produced a solid and professional display to beat a CSKA side who have made an unbeaten start to their league season. The result now puts Spurs’ European fate firmly back in their own hands, and two home wins will put them on the verge of qualifying for the last-16.
They will, however, harbour aspirations of topping what is a winnable group and have a double header against Bayer Leverkusen to contend with next. Speaking after the game, Pochettino was pleased that his side had learnt from their opening game shortcomings:
“We’ve played much better tonight [than against Monaco] but it was a tough game as it’s always difficult to play here in Moscow. It was very important for us to get three points here as we were in a must-win position.
“We’re in the race for the next round. It’s a very important three points. But there’s four games remaining to play and everything is still open.
“It is very important that not only Harry [Kane], who was good before his injury and scored, that now another player has scored and that is very important for the team.”
Spurs have been one of the best units in the Premier League over the last 12 months, but Champions League football does provide a unique challenge. It took Sir Alex Ferguson year’s to master the art, enduring ignominious exit’s to the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Monaco in the 1990’s.
Across north London, Arsene Wenger has never been able to crack the code, even in his trophy lade first decade at Arsenal. Getting through the group would be an achievement of note for Spurs, especially after losing their first game at ‘home’. It may not be the hardest group, but European football shows little respect for reputations and recent seasons show a slip up is just around the corner for English teams.
Last night’s game was also a continuation of Son’s fine start to the season, with the Evening Standard pointing out that he has a better goal to minute ratio than Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. It should be pointed out that Son has played less minutes than the Chilean and therefore the sample size is smaller. Nevertheless, it is some turnaround for the South Korean at White Hart Lane given that he asked for a transfer in the summer.
A move back to the Bundesliga looked on the cards, but Pochettino assured him that there would be first-team opportunities this season and so it has proved. In the absence of Kane, Spurs need all members of their squad firing and Son is certainly steeping up to the mark.
Finally, Spurs have announced a new grassroots coaching scheme in China, providing 42 PE teachers an insight into elite level coaching. According to the Daily Mail, the coaches will work with up to 8,000 students at Guangzhou.
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