Son Heung-min believes Tottenham beat “the best team in the world” in their 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Sunday.
Spurs’ off-season was dominated by speculation surrounding star striker Harry Kane, who was absent for the win after only recently returning to training.
Kane is a target for City, with trophies at the top of the England captain’s agenda, and Spurs arguably did not miss him against the champions.
Much like under Jose Mourinho last season, Tottenham set up to hit City on the break and that tactic eventually bore fruit early in the second half, Son curling a left-footed effort into the bottom-left corner at the end of a rapid break.
It marked only the third time in Premier League history that the reigning champions have lost on matchday one of their title defence, while Pep Guardiola suffered a first opening-day defeat since losing to Numancia with Barcelona in 2008-09.
And the gravity of Spurs’ win was not lost on match-winner Son.
“Obviously we want to start well, first game of the season, first game with the fans, finally,” he told Sky Sports.
“It was just an incredible performance. Everyone worked so hard to get this three points and obviously Man City is currently the best team in the world, so this means a lot for us and for the start of the season.”
Attention soon turned to the absent Kane, who was the subject of chants from Spurs fans asking if he was watching.
But much like he did to make space when fronted by Nathan Ake for his goal, Son skilfully sidestepped the issue when asked about his usual partner in attack.
“We are all professional, we wanted to just focused on game, it doesn’t matter who’s involved,” Son added.
“Everyone was really focused for this game. Obviously, Harry is so important for us, but let’s see. Let’s let H prepare well for the season.”
Nuno Espirito Santo was taking charge of Spurs for the first time in a competitive match and made it three wins against Guardiola in the Premier League, level with Jurgen Klopp, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Mourinho for the most.
Yet, despite that accomplishment, Kane was also a key subject in his post-match interview, with Nuno accepting Spurs are lucky to have a striker of his quality.
“Look, Harry Kane is one of the best players in the world, honestly,” Nuno said. “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 [whether he plays against next weekend] Wolves.”