London: Mauricio Pochettino’s happiness at overseeing a 1-0 Champions League victory over Manchester City was tempered by the loss of Harry Kane to yet another ankle ligament injury — the Tottenham manager fears it will rule him out for the remainder of the season.
Son Heung-min scored the goal on 78 minutes that has given Spurs the advantage at the midway point of the quarter-final, but Kane’s injury cast a shadow. The striker, who came in for some rough treatment from various City players, went into a strong challenge on Fabian Delph in the 55th minute and he came off worse. Delph turned on Kane straight away as he felt that the tackle was late and excessive.
I am worried he will miss the rest of the season....it doesn’t look good. If you see the action, it shows he twisted his ankle and maybe damaged the ligaments again.
Pochettino had a verbal exchange with Delph and it was immediately apparent that Kane had a serious problem. He was helped down the tunnel towards the dressing room and later departed on crutches.
It is the fifth time that Kane has suffered ankle ligament damage, with his most recent problem coming against Manchester United in January and leading to a six-week layoff. He hurt the left foot on that occasion and it was the same one here. Previously, the damage was always to the right foot.
Kane will undergo scans once the swelling has subsided but Pochettino made it plain that he expects the worst. It could also represent bad news for England, who will contest the Nations League finals in early June.
Pochettino said: “I am worried he will miss the rest of the season. We hope it’s not a big issue and he can recover as soon as possible but it doesn’t look good. If you see the action, it shows he twisted his ankle and maybe damaged the ligaments again. We will check in the next few days. It is so painful but what can we do?”
Pochettino was asked about his conversation with Delph. “I said to him he was lucky because the referee was checking and maybe the way the action was, it could have been a red card,” he said. “But I think both were fighting for the ball and had no intention to hurt each other. The conversation was very friendly.”
It was an evening when controversy flared. The stewards had to remove a pitch invader in the second half, with Pochettino also running on from his technical area to supervise the situation. The Argentine walked back shaking his head. Uefa is sure to investigate the incident and it is likely that Spurs will be punished.
Then there was City’s early penalty, which Sergio Aguero saw saved by Hugo Lloris. It was awarded by VAR after what, in real time, had seemed like an innocuous incident. The replays showed that Raheem Sterling’s shot had caught Danny Rose’s hand. “Tonight showed that there is still a lot of work to do with the system,” Pochettino said. “Technically it was a penalty because it was handball but I don’t think there was any intention.
“Yet I know next season every time the ball hits a hand or arm in the penalty box, the VAR is going to give a penalty. It’s going to be a big problem and change the spirit of the game. The protocol needs to be clear. If not, there is going to be a big problem.”
Pep Guardiola lost Bernardo Silva to a muscular injury during training on Monday and he had to defend his decision to start with Riyad Mahrez, together with Ilkay Gundogan, who he preferred to Kevin De Bruyne.
Guardiola said: “We played an incredible game and we controlled it. The result is not the best one but it is just one and in the Champions League, you have to make comebacks to go through. I don’t have the feeling we played bad, although the result wasn’t good.
“But last season [against Liverpool in the quarter-final first leg], it was much, much worse. Sometimes 1-0 is better than 0-0 because it’s clear what we have to do. We know we have to score goals.”
— Guardian News & Media Ltd