English Premiership

No Kane? No problem as Son sparks Spurs

2019-02-14 19:06
Son Heung-min
Son Heung-min (AP)

London - Inspired by the boundless energy and predatory finishing of their South Korean talisman Son Heung-min, Tottenham are set for a thrilling climax to the season.

With a major helping hand from the increasingly influential Son, Mauricio Pochettino's side are in the thick of the Premier League title race and on course for the Champions League quarter-finals.

His latest crucial contribution to the Spurs cause came at Wembley on Wednesday as the forward turned the tide in a tense Champions League last-16 first-leg tie against Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga leaders had dominated the first half but Son put Tottenham in front in the 47th minute, making a perfectly timed run to meet Jan Vertonghen's cross and finishing with a cushioned volley.

Revitalised, Tottenham shook off the fatigue from their gruelling schedule and romped to a 3-0 win that has put them in sight of the Champions League last eight for the first time since 2011.

Son has now scored 16 times in all competitions this season and has 11 goals in his past 12 matches.

Since his return from South Korea duty at the Asia Cup at the end of last month, Son has scored in four consecutive games - a huge boost for Tottenham, who have been without injured England stars Harry Kane and Dele Alli for several weeks.

Whenever he has found the net this season, Tottenham have won.

"Next time when Son scores, I go to the dressing-room, shower and wait for the game to end," Pochettino grinned when asked about the forward's latest heroics.

Son has been so vital and his form so consistent that he finds himself touted as a candidate for the player-of-the-year awards.

That would be a well-deserved, if rare, moment of public vindication for the 26-year-old.

There is a misleading perception of Son as a dutiful but low-key character content to play in the shadows of his more famous Tottenham team-mates.

But Son is much more than that.

Signed by Pochettino from Bayer Leverkusen in 2015, he immediately charmed his new teammates by bringing with Korean food from a top London restaurant to the training ground to share.

Always ready with a smile and a joke to lift the mood off the field, Son also brings quality and a fiercely competitive attitude on it.

Both those attributes have been essential during a winter slog that has seen Tottenham play 22 matches in 82 days.

"Son was fantastic again. He is a player that provides the team with a lot of very good things," Pochettino said.

"His smile, he translates good energy and his performance every game is improving. We are so happy with him."

Son has now scored nine career Champions League goals - among Asian players, only former Uzbekistan striker Maksim Shatskikh managed more, with 11 for Dynamo Kiev.

But Son's humble nature means he will not rest on his laurels.

Instead, he gave credit for his goal against Dortmund to Vertonghen, who impressed playing out of position at left wing-back.

"I am very happy for him, he deserved it. One goal and an assist," he said. "The cross was unreal. I didn't have to do anything, just touch the ball.

"I'm just sorry I didn't run to him (to celebrate)."

 

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