Sporting Libson star Marcus Edwards turned on the style on Tuesday evening as he locked horns with former employers Tottenham – and almost scored a goal of the season contender following an incredible run in the first half.
Edwards made his Spurs debut in the 2016/17 season, appearing in the Carabao Cup as a then 17-year-old. His manager at time, Mauricio Pochettino, hailed him at the time as the club’s ‘future’, even likening his ability to legendary Lionel Messi. However, by the time he was 20, Edwards had been jettisoned out of Tottenham for Vitoria Guimaraes.
It was there that Edwards really came of age, becoming a regular in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. And having scored 20 goals in 85 games over three seasons, Edwards was snapped up in a big-money move by Sporting Lisbon in January.
Still only 23, the winger now has six goals in 21 games for Sporting – including three in six this season.
As fate would have it, Edwards and Sporting were paired with Tottenham in Champions League Group D. And facing his former club for the first time, the player was clearly eager to prove a point.
The majority of the first half belonged to Tottenham, with Richarlison going close early on. The Brazilian then rounded Sporting keeper Antonio Adnan to fire into an unguarded net – only to be flagged offside.
However, the moment of the half was still to come with Edwards almost scoring a goal of the season contender.
Picking the ball up 10 yards inside the Spurs half, he embarked on a mazy run that saw him effortlessly glide past several challengers.
Bearing down on goal, his poked shot clearly had Hugo Lloris worried; but the Spurs keeper just did enough with his effort bouncing wide.
Pundit wowed by Marcus Edwards brilliance
The effort would certainly have been a goal of the season contender had he managed to stick it away.
Despite that, co-commentator Owen Hargreaves was absolutely wowed by the player’s brilliance.
“I was willing it to go in,” he told BT Sport. “That was the dribble of the season, simply outstanding, He has been the best player on the pitch this half and is doing all he can to prove his point.”
Peter Crouch, in the BT Sport studios agreed with him, saying: “It was almost the goal of the season. He’s been compared with Messi by Pochettino – and now we can see why.
Hargreaves was then asked if Marcus Edwards was putting himself in contention for the England squad.
“Why not?” Hargreaves added. “He’s been the best player on the pitch and is competing here with established internationals. There’s no signs of being afraid. He’s making a name for himself for sure.”
Spurs were the better side in the second half, but late Sporting pressure brought its reward.
With Lloris pulling off an excellent save to turn a Pedro Porro shot away for a corner, the hosts scored from the resulting deadball.
That came from Paulinho, who flicked in Pedro Goncalves’ delivery in the first-minute of added-time.
Another mazy and direct run, this time from substitute Arthur, then sealed a 2-0 win for the hosts.
Pochettino knew player had huge ability
Given Pochettino’s assessment of the player in his early days, it came as a big shock when they allowed him to leave.
Speaking to the Daily Mail ahead of the game, Edwards admits it will be odd to tackle his former club.
“The feeling is a bit strange,” Edwards said. “I was at the club for so long, half my career. So it’s crazy to think I’m going to be playing against Spurs in a Champions League fixture.
That is sensational, Marcus Edwards! 🤩
A move that had everything but the finish.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 13, 2022
“It will bring back a lot of good memories. I still remember training at the old training ground after school. The club has grown a lot since. And I still have some old teammates who broke through the first team so it will be good to see them.”
Looking back on Pochettino’s comparison of him to Messi, Edwards insists the former Tottenham boss’ intentions were pure.
“I think that was said to help me in a way,” Edwards added. “Just to put me out there and give me some recognition as he thought I was a good player. I think it got blown out of proportion a little bit but there were good intentions behind it.
“He brought me into the first team and believed in me so I appreciate it. I don’t think about it so it doesn’t really affect me.”