Mauricio Pochettino saluted his talismanic goalscorer Son Heung-min after the Tottenham forward helped to move the team to within touching distance of the Champions League quarter-finals.
Son volleyed Spurs into a 47th-minute lead against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley in the first leg of the last-16 tie before late goals from the stop-gap left wing-back, Jan Vertonghen, and the substitute Fernando Llorente sealed a memorable 3-0 win.
Son has now scored 16 goals in all competitions – he has 11 in his last 12 matches – and, whenever he has found the net this season, Spurs have won. “Next time when Son scores, I go to the dressing-room, shower and wait for the game [to end],” Pochettino said with a smile. “Sonny was fantastic again. He translates good energy and his performance in every game is improving.”
If Son was excellent, Vertonghen was even better. After a tough first-half, the Belgian laid on Son’s goal with a precision cross before banging home a volley of his own. Pochettino had sprung a tactical surprise by naming Jan Foyth as part of a back three – with Vertonghen wide left – and following a few half-time tweaks his team thrilled most of the 71,214 in attendance with their second-half showing.
Vertonghen said: “It was my first goal since the first game this season [at Newcastle] and I had to wait for goal-line technology then, so I was happy that I could just go to celebrate this time. It was at Wembley and in the Champions League, so it was special. We were able to keep Dortmund quiet in the second half and they weren’t able to be clinical. The game changed in the second-half.”
It was Spurs’ 22nd match in 81 days in all competitions – a punishing schedule – but Pochettino said he would now reward his players with a few days off as their next game is not until Saturday week at Burnley. “My players are heroes. The team is there; fighting, getting results. They deserve full credit. The effort they are doing is fantastic.” – Guardian service