Richarlison rises up in Tottenham’s Champions League win over Marseille but Son Heung-Min struggles

Richarlison’s first goals for Tottenham Hotspur helped them mark their return to the Champions League with a 2-0 win over ten-man Marseille in Group D on Wednesday.

Until Richarlison’s brace, Tottenham had been mediocre against a lively Marseille, who were the better side until Chancel Mbemba was sent off three minutes into the second half.

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Tottenham, who have missed out on the Champions League for the past two seasons, failed to score in a lackluster first half but Richarlison eventually ensured a perfect start for Antonio Conte’s side.

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Fast reaction

1. Richarlison is making a name for himself

Up until Wednesday, Richarlison’s most memorable contribution came when Nottingham Forest were lured in with a bit of showboating as a late replacement that saw him moments later with the scythe down. Yet here, on Spurs’ return to the Champions League after a three-year absence, the £60m Everton acquisition scored two header goals in the final 15 minutes to give Antonio Conte’s side a 2-0 win over Marseille at bring north London.

Both goals benefited from underperforming defense and a numerical advantage which gave them Chancel Mbemba’s red card in the 47th minute for fouling Heung-Min Son while charging on goal, but Richarlison, who ended the game in tears of joy, gave Spurs the win modernity they had previously lacked all evening. It was Richarlison’s first Tottenham goals – in his Champions League debut, no less – and confirms Conte’s choice to smash the attacking triumvirate of Son Heung-Min-Harry Kane-Dejan Kulusevski last season was so influential.

2. Conte improves his Champions League record

There is no doubting Antonio Conte’s origins in domestic football, having won multiple Serie A titles with Juventus and Inter Milan as well as his 2016-17 Premier League title with Chelsea. And the Italian would no doubt rate Tottenham’s late rise to the Champions League qualifiers last season as an achievement to settle in the upper echelons of his career.

But all along doubts remained about his ability to translate that success into Europe’s premier club competition. Conte had won three of his last 15 games in the competition before Wednesday night; They failed to progress from the group stage in their last two seasons at Inter, before finishing bottom in 2021-22 with a win from their six games.

For a long time it looked like Conte would fight again here. In 37 Champions League games he has the same number of wins and losses (12) and 13 draws. Tonight’s result was all that mattered but Conte will know performances need to improve to stay on course in Group D.

3. The son’s struggles continue

Son passed Mbemba to force the Marseille defender into a final tackle he mistimed, prompting Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic to wave a red card (after dropping it on the ground trying). It was therefore a crucial contribution from Son, but only a brief flash of the menace he has displayed so often in the past.

The 30-year-old South Korean star, who won the Premier League Golden Boot alongside Mohamed Salah last season, has yet to impress in any competition this time and was one of several Spurs to be choked by Marseille’s fearsome pressing , especially in the first half. His individual expected goals were 0.08 as of 86 minutes, much lower than Richarlison (0.55), Kane (0.21) and even Kulusevski (0.20), who only played at right-back for the last 29 minutes .

Son deserves time to get good – which he will certainly be doing shortly – but the added competition for places at Spurs this season will increase the pressure on him to do so.

Player Ratings

Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (6), Emerson Royal (7), Cristian Romero (6), Eric Dier (7), Clement Lenglet (6), Ivan Perisic (7), Rodrigo Bentancur (6), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (7), Richarlison (8), Son Heung-Min (6), Harry Kane (6).
Subtitle: Dejan Kulusevski (7), Japhet Tanganga (6), Ben Davies (6), Matt Doherty (6), Yves Bissouma (6).

Marseilles: Pau Lopez (6), Chancel Mbemba (4), Eric Bailly (7), Samuel Gigot (7), Jonathan Clauss (7), Matteo Guendouzi (7), Jordan Veretout (7), Valentin Rongier (7), Nuno Tavares (5), Gerson (6), Luis Suarez (6).
Subtitle: Leonardo Balerdi (6), Sead Kolasinac (6), Amine Harit (6), Pape Gueye (6), Cengiz (under 6).

Best and worst performers

BEST: Richarlison, Tottenham.

Two goals on his Champions League debut turned an average Tottenham performance into a winning performance. His second header in particular was outstanding.

WORST: Chor Mbemba, Marseilles

The visitors were on the rise until Mbemba launched a desperate attack on Son in the 47th minute, reducing his team to 10 men.

Highlights and notable moments

First Champions League game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. First goals for summer signing Richarlison.

You can tell it means a lot to the Brazilian star.

After the game: what the managers, players said

“I remember very well when we signed him he said: ‘I can’t wait to hear the Champions League music and play in this competition. Those were important words for me. That morning I remembered. I said, ‘Richy, I remember what you said and tonight you have your chance. You have a chance. You deserve this, enjoy this moment and try to do your best.’ I think he did his best and helped us get the points.” – Spurs manager Antonio Conte on Richarlison

“Tough game against a really good team from Marseille who have had a great start to the season. It was difficult in the Champions League, we had to start well at home and being sent off helped. Richarlison scored a few goals in the end.” .” – Spurs captain Harry Kane to BT Sport

“We should do better from the first minute, we were a bit nervous with the ball but we defended well and kept a clean sheet. We have to keep going, do a little bit better with the ball but it was a little bit easier 11 against 10.” – Spurs winger Ivan Perisic to BT Sport

Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– A series of “firsts” for Richarlison. His first Champions League game, his first goals as a Tottenham man and his first game with multiple header goals in all competitions.

– Marseille’s misery has continued in the Champions League of late – one win and 15 defeats in the last 16 games of the competition.


Tottenham Hotspur: A busy week lies ahead with a big Premier League clash at Manchester City on Saturday. Spurs then travel to Lisbon to face Sporting CP in the Champions League next Tuesday and host Leicester City in the league on September 17.

Marseilles: The French host Ligue 1 opponents Lille on Saturday before returning to the Champions League on Tuesday and welcoming Eintracht Frankfurt to the Stade Velodrome. Richarlison rises up in Tottenham’s Champions League win over Marseille but Son Heung-Min struggles

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