Son steps up for Spurs as Pochettino's strong start continues
Middlesborough 1 Tottenham 2
Published 26/09/2016 | 02:30
Tottenham's best player in the game that cemented their best start to a season for 51 years was a player who wanted to leave in the summer.
There was much to smile about for Mauricio Pochettino as his side eased into second spot of the Premier League with a win far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.
Heung-Min Son returned from the Olympics with South Korea ready to end his brief time with Tottenham.
Pochettino talked him back from quitting. On Saturday, with two excellent goals, came the start of payback.
"He asked to leave after the Olympic Games but we decided he would stay with us," said Pochettino. "I didn't want him to go. You can see his reaction has been good. We try to give all the best to our players but sometimes it is difficult.
"If you work hard in football and have patience, you can pay back and in this case the last few games he is scoring and it's very good for him and for us. I never doubted his quality."
Middlesbrough's defenders were generous, twice giving the former Bayer Leverkusen forward the opportunity to run at them in their own penalty area, but the finishes were still excellent.
Goal one came after seven minutes, taking a pass from Vincent Janssen before jinking his way into a shooting position that ended with a left-footed shot past Victor Valdes. Goal two came after 23 minutes, running from the byline in the Middlesbrough penalty area, back to a better position before curling a delightful right-footed shot past the Boro goalkeeper.
"I am very happy now," said Son. "It was good to talk to the manager. All I have wanted to do is play in the Premier League. I am very happy to stay here and to be out on the pitch."
Tottenham made life difficult for themselves when Moussa Sissoko failed to keep tabs on Ben Gibson in the 66th minute and the central defender climbed all over the former Newcastle midfielder to score.
Spurs retained control. Christian Eriksen was excellent once more, as was Dele Alli.
There was much for Pochettino to take delight from, but nothing quite as much as that chat with Son.