SPURS 1-0 MAN CITY, TIE STILL HANGS IN THE BALANCE:
No football manager wants to play the same team 3 times in as many days, but that is exactly the plight of Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola and his EPL counterpart Tottenham Hotspur manager, Mauricio Pochetino. The 2 managers have to oversee their team square it out against each other in a 3-match series; 2-leg tie in a UEFA Champions League match and the reverse fixture of the English Premier League in less than 2 weeks(9th-20th April). The 1st instalment of the Manchester City-Tottenham Hotspur 3-match series began on Tuesday night in a UEFA Champions League 1st leg quarterfinal at the new ultra-modern White-Hart Lane Stadium, and it was 1st blood to the home side, who came away with a slim 1 nil victory.
A lot had been said about how coming back home to White-Hart Lane could prove pivoter for Spurs end-of-the-season home run, and so far so good, 2 games played, both won and the latest victory though slim, may be very crucial to Spurs quest for UCL semifinal berth. City, on the other hand, is so engulfed by their quest for a quadruple that the manager had to rotate the team to be able to cope with their busy schedule, a decision that might be responsible for his team’s loss to Spurs, as the omission of Leroy Same and Kevin De Bruyne was obvious in the match proceedings.
To the match itself, The VAR was called to questioning again, after awarding a 12th-minute spot-kick against Danny Rose, who was falling and could not have known much about his raised hand. As soon As Sergio Aguero’s weak kick was saved by Spurs goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, Spurs grew in confidence and certainly took the fight to City, more overall shots, more on target as the stats shows.
Aguero’s poor spot-kick summed up his night, he and his teammates were tamed by Spurs centre-halves who did excellent work in the night, Hugo Lloris with a smart spot-kick safe was rarely troubled all night. Spurs’ Son Heung-Min came good on the night yet again, His 78th-minute goal proved to be the difference, a man-of-the-match performance by the Korean, He is making new White-Hart Lane his own with a back-to-back goal now.
Though, the tie still hangs in the balance as both managers will have a lot to think of going into the 2nd leg and the remainder of the Man City-Spurs series. Spurs especially may have to deal with the potential loss of Harry Kane for the remainder of the season, while Man City will definitely relish the return of Bernardo Silva, either or both of Benjamin Mendy and Oleksander Zinchenko( who could have fared better than Fabian Delph). There is still all to play for in these ties.
Liverpool 2-0 FC PORTO, KLOPP’S LADS 1 STEP INTO SEMIS:
Liverpool are expected to have it easy over FC Porto of Portugal at the Anfield Stadium on Tuesday and over the 2 ties, coupled with the fact that a Portuguese side have never won away at England across all European competition, drawing just 3 and losing 17 in 20 matches, seemed the winless run is not about to end, not on Liverpool’s watch.
These 2 teams also met in the 2017/18 round of 16 ties where Liverpool emerged as the winner, a Sadio Mane hat-trick, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino goals away at Porto ensured a 5 nil aggregate win. Liverpool’s dominance over Porto continued in this 1 leg quarterfinal tie with a comfortable 2 nil victory.
Jurgen Klopp went for a compact midfield of Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Fabinho and all 3 make a good account of themselves. Keita marked his 1st UCL start with an early goal, a 5th-minute deflected shot opened his goal account, Fabinho mopping the midfield and Herderson’s yet again man-of -the-man display, even the defence was in her usual impregnable self, Van Dijk’s commanding display, make-shift left-back, James Milner’s usual decent cover, the match was over as early as the 26th minute of kick-off, when Firmino tapped in from teammate, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s square, as Liverpool were in control of the match.
Liverpool going forward was always going to be a problem for Porto and most teams, Firmino’s influence in the attack cannot be exaggerated. His 13 goals and 8 assists(total 21) since last season is only 2nd to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 24 direct involvement in goals. Firmino has been involved in 12 goals in 11 UCL games at Anfield(7goals and 5 assists). While Mane and Salah often hit the headlines, it is safe to say Firmino is Liverpool’s unsung hero, Liverpool’s version of Heung-Min Son. The only negative of the night for Liverpool was Mo Salah’s wastefulness/Selfishness in the final 3rd, Klopp sure needs a big discussion with his under-fire talisman.
Liverpool with one leg into the semifinals, they have to approach with caution though, Porto still has an outside chance of upturning the 2-goal deficit at home ground, and should not be underrated.
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