KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Manchester City’s urgent need for a new centre-forward was demonstrated, for everyone to see, as they lost their Premier League opener 1-0 at Tottenham.

Sitting somewhere in the executive boxes was the man to solve their problem: Harry Kane.

The champions had dominated the opening exchanges when they threatened to overrun their hosts. Instead Tottenham withstood the assault on their goal and turned the tables early in the second half through Heung-min Son.

The South Korean said: “We wanted to start well with the fans here – finally! It was an incredible match. Everyone worked so hard to get these three point. City are the best team in the world so this means a lot for us. Football is all about the fans . . . we did amazingly.”

The run-up to the match had been overshadowed by speculation over the future of Kane. England’s captain had said before Euro 2020 that he wanted a transfer to a trophy-winning club and City made no secret of their interest though not at Spurs’ £160m valuation.

Kane missed several days’ training after a post-Euro holiday while obeying quarantine controls. In the background Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy maintained his reputation as a tough negotiator by indicating he might contemplate selling Kane only next year.

In the event Kane was absent from a new-look Tottenham line-up. New manager Nuno Espirito Santo included signings Cristian Romero and Bryan Gil on the substitutes’ bench. Before kickoff Nuno said: “Harry needs to work on his fitness until he’s ready to help the team. He doesn’t need too many sessions. He needs to be match fit.”

Pep Guardiola opened with only a handful of the men who had featured in the FA Community Shield defeat by Leicester the previous weekend. Jack Grealish, at £100m the current British domestic signing from Aston Villa, had been a substitute at Wembley and started now.

Poor record

Guardiola’s league record at Spurs’ new home was poor: played three, lost three, no goals scored. City immediately set about trying to put that right. Grealish claimed a penalty in vain, an Ilkay Gundogan free kick was deflected for a corner, Fernandinho and Joao Cancelo were off target while Riyad Mahrez was foiled by keeper Hugo Lloris.

Somehow Spurs survived and began to counter-attack through the pace of Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn. Twice Heung-min Son hesitated in the penalty box, once he had a shot deflected and once he shot high over the bar.

Grealish played wide on the left in City’s midfield and was marked closely by Japhet Tanganga. City’s record signing moved into the centre to try to escape his ‘policeman’ and had a shot blocked. Guardiola would have been irritated with a goalless scoreline at halftime.

Tottenham began the second half on the attack and took the lead in the 54th minute. Bergwijn broke clear yet again and set up Son to cut in from the right and shoot low past Ederson’s right hand. Five minutes later Berwijn should have scored himself but shot badly wide.

The game had turned around remarkably with City’s attacking failings underlining the reason for their interest in Kane. Guardiola responded to the possibility of a second successive defeat – after the Community Shield – by bringing on Gabriel Jesus and then De Bruyne.

Jesus soon made his presence felt. He set up Grealish but the England man’s angled shot was saved at second attempt to Lloris. De Bruyne had a drive punched away by Lloris in the frenetic final exchanges which saw Grealish shown a yellow card for tripping Lucas Moura.

Thus a perfect start for Tottenham and for Nuno. He said: “It makes any manager proud when the players work so hard. We were lucky early on because City had clear chances but we knew it was going to be tough so then we adjusted and started creating our own chances. I’m very proud of them.”

Guardiola deflected questions about Kane, saying he was “delighted” with City’s attacking options. He added: “We have the same guys as last season, just without Sergio Aguero. I’m so delighted with the same guys who scored a lot of goals. I’m more than delighted with this.”