Returning Son spurs Spurs to victory
South Korean forward injects life into Tottenham after Asian Cup duty
Tottenham Hotspur's South Korea forward Son Heung Min got back from the Asian Cup only on Saturday, but rode to the rescue of his injury-hit club side with a vital equaliser as they rallied to beat Watford 2-1 in the English Premier League yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Son had barely got over the disappointment of his national team's elimination from the continental tournament in the United Arab Emirates, where they lost 1-0 at the quarter-final stage to Qatar, before he was putting on his boots again for Spurs.
A long-term injury suffered by striker Harry Kane has left Spurs light up front, despite the efforts of veteran striker Fernando Llorente who got the winner at Wembley, meaning Son has been given little time to recover after South Korea's exit.
"For me, it was too much. It wasn't the plan to play with him for the 90 minutes," Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said, after Son's energetic performance injected some life into Spurs.
"I said maybe we need to take a little bit of a risk to keep him playing. He finished very tired with some cramps. We'll see if he's going to recover for the next game (at home to Newcastle United tomorrow).
"(He scored) a great goal and (put in an) amazing effort. From the beginning, he showed energy. I'm so happy with his performance but more happy because he showed a massive commitment with the team. He deserves a lot of praise..."
Spurs were struggling to find the net until Son struck with 10 minutes remaining for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions, setting them up for Llorente to head the winner three minutes from time at a half-empty Wembley Stadium.
"He (Son) was disappointed to lose the quarter-final to Qatar," said Pochettino.
"He wanted to deliver for his country the best and to win the Asian Cup but... I have to be honest I'm happy that he's back because he's helping us to try to win."
Tottenham are only two points behind City and will still believe they can yet pull off a surprise with a late-season tilt towards the title.
Spurs could move ahead of City into second, for 24 hours at least, if they can beat Newcastle at home tomorrow.
Meanwhile, at the bottom half of the table, Crystal Palace held hosts Southampton to a 1-1 draw yesterday, when Palace forward Wilfried Zaha apologised to his teammates after getting sent off late in the match.
Zaha, who had given Palace a first-half lead at St Mary's, was dismissed for sarcastically applauding referee Andre Marriner in the 87th minute, moments after being cautioned for tangling with James Ward-Prowse.
"All I can do is apologise to the team and the fans for my red card tonight because I could have cost us today," the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international wrote on Twitter.
"I will learn from it for sure."
Palace boss Roy Hodgson felt sympathetic towards Zaha, who was fouled multiple times during the match, but said he cannot "condone" the reaction that led to his dismissal.
Ward-Prowse's equaliser in the 77th minute meant Southampton and Palace remain level on 23 points in the league table, four points above relegation zone. - REUTERS