Tottenham Hotspur’s elation at beating Manchester City 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday was somewhat overshadowed by the prospect of a potential season-ending injury for Harry Kane.
Kane, who has scored 24 goals this season, rolled his ankle painfully just before the hour mark after a hefty tackle on City defender Fabian Delph. The England striker left the field immediately and looks a major doubt for next week’s second leg in Manchester.
He could even miss the run-in to Tottenham’s season, having already had a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an injury to the same ankle in January when he damaged ligaments.
“We are very sad and disappointed. We are going to miss him, maybe for the rest of the season, and we are worried about that. He doesn’t have much time to recover,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters. “We’ll see in the next few days. We can only look forward and hope it’s not a big issue and that he can recover as soon as possible, but it doesn’t look good.”
Pochettino exchanged angry words with Delph after the incident, in which the City player appeared to stand on Kane’s ankle as the pair tussled for the ball.
“He was so aggressive with Harry after the action,” Pochettino said. “I tried to explain to him that it wasn’t the intention of Harry or him to damage each other, it was a tough action, and Harry twisted his ankle. “I said to Delph, ‘You were lucky’, because they were checking the VAR and technically it could have been a red card. But I think both were fighting for the ball.”
Son Heung-min, who scored goals in the four successive matches in which Kane was missing earlier in the season, rose to the occasion again to seal a crucial win for Tottenham with his 18th club goal of the season in all competitions.
The livewire South Korean cut in from the byline in the 78th minute and fired a shot past Ederson to give Tottenham a slender advantage to protect at The Etihad Stadium next week, the second of three games in 10 days between the two clubs.
Tottenham showed great discipline to shackle a City side who surprisingly left Kevin de Bruyne on the bench until the 89th minute, but Pochettino still reckons his side are underdogs to reach their first Champions League semi-final.
“It was so tough,” he said. “I am happy but Manchester City are still favourites. We showed great quality and the performance was good but there are still 90 minutes to play.”
City will need to overturn a curious statistic if they are to keep alive their hopes of an unprecedented quadruple.
They have now lost all five of their European matches against English opponents, including both legs of last year’s quarter-final against Premier League title rivals Liverpool.
City have also not won a European tie on aggregate after an away first-leg loss since beating Gornik Zabrze in the 1970/71 European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals. On that occasion they needed a replay, after each side won 2-0 at home, as they went through 3-1 in the third game.
Guardiola upbeat despite Man City setback at Tottenham
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola remained unruffled despite his side’s surprise 1-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in their Champions League quarter-final, first leg tie on Tuesday. City had lost only once in their past 23 matches in all competitions, a run that had seen them lift the League Cup, reach the FA Cup final and trade top spot in the Premier League with Liverpool in a thrilling title race.
They controlled large periods of the game against Tottenham, but looked vulnerable to the counter-attack and their usual slick passing occasionally seemed laboured. The quadruple remains possible but City will have to keep alive their European hopes the hard way — having not overturned a tie in which they have lost an away first leg since 1971.
They lost 3-0 at Liverpool in the first leg of last season’s quarter-final so City’s task is less daunting this time.
“Last season was much worse,” Guardiola told reporters. “Except for a few chances we conceded in set-pieces and some counter-attacks, we controlled the game and played quite well. I would have liked us to score a goal but the situation is what it is.”
City’s cause was not helped by Sergio Aguero’s first-half penalty miss after Danny Rose was harshly adjudged by VAR to have used his arm to block Raheem Sterling’s shot.
Despite plenty of incursions deep into Tottenham territory, City managed only two shots on target as an attack that put 10 goals past Schalke in the last round misfired.
City also laboured somewhat to beat Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on Saturday, but Guardiola was not about to start criticising his team.
“When we don’t play well I say it, but I don’t have that feeling,” said the Spaniard. “They’re a team who press a lot but they couldn’t do that — especially in the second half, when we arrived many times in the final third.
“We played so well on the second ball. Next week, hopefully our fans can support us every single minute.”