Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo was delighted with the performance of Japhet Tanganga in particular and also reserved praise for Oliver Skipp as his side opened the new Premier League season with victory over champions Manchester City.
Son Heung-min’s curling second-half strike was enough for a Harry Kane-less Spurs to beat Pep Guardiola’s City at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Skipp was perhaps a surprise inclusion in midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, while Tanganga started at right-back with Matt Doherty on the bench.
But the pair of academy graduates were excellent as the north Londoners again ousted City on home soil in what was Nuno’s first competitive match as manager.
And the Portuguese was pleased with what he got from the duo, saying in his post-match press conference: “They [Japhet and Oliver] did well.
“When they started the season they were in the processes of recovering from injury but they had a good foundation in terms of fitness and physicality with the work they did with sports science.
“I think they were able to keep on growing and we can see they are fit and stronger and faster. All the team did very well but Japhet was huge today.
“He faced too many one-v-ones today against fantastic players and he dealt fantastic with the situation.”
Son was the match-winner for Spurs but Nuno actually felt the South Korean goalscorer might have produced a better performance in the first 45 minutes.
He continued: “Sonny and the talent he has is amazing. I truly believe that he is versatile enough to play and develop the tasks in all the positions at the front. He’s dynamic, has speed and he knows the game.
“Like I said before, Sonny is in the moment where he knows and he can find the gaps, the spaces and he’s a killer, a killer.
“He did ok but I still believe that even in the first half he had actions that he will do better for sure in the future.”
Although Kane was not involved, new signings Bryan Gil and Cristian Romero were in the match-day squad with the latter coming on late on for his debut.
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But Nuno shut down suggestions that England captain Kane’s absence may mean he’s off to City, insisting just as he did pre-match that the reason he was not involved was solely because of how late he joined the club’s pre-season.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville was among those to suggest otherwise, saying: “Harry Kane would be here today I feel if there was no doubt over his future. I took into it that he’s gone. I just felt him not being visible in the stadium; the most prominent Tottenham player, first game of the season not being visible in this stadium?”
“It was huge the way they helped the team until the final minute, helping the boys, and we are very thankful for it.”
Tottenham fans could be heard chanting ‘are you watching Harry Kane?’ as the hosts led 1-0 without the striker, thought to want to join City, late on.
And Nuno said when asked about the chants to Sky Sports: “Look, Harry Kane is one of the best players in the world, honestly. We are very lucky to have him.
“He has to get ready and help the team. We still have to go to Portugal then we think about Wolves.”
He added: “I’m sure that with commitment and the talent we have, we will be a good team.
“We are in the process of that. I am learning every day and I am very proud of them today, very proud.”