A first-half goal from Sergio Aguero was the difference between the two sides as we lost to Manchester City at the Lane on Sunday afternoon, despite a battling performance in which we created plenty of chances to level.
A string of fine saves from Joe Hart and some last-ditch defending from the visitors preserved their clean sheet and inflicted our sixth home defeat of the campaign, but there were positives to take from the game as we played some neat, penetrative football at times.
Aguero struck in the 29th-minute, putting the finishing touch on a swift counter-attack after we had almost taken the lead at the other end and, although both sides created chances throughout, that proved to be the only goal of the contest.
We started the game in terrific fashion and could have scored three times in the opening four minutes. Just two minutes were on the clock when Christian Eriksen set Nacer Chadli free in acres of space down the left, he burst into the area and tried to play in Erik Lamela but his cross was cut out. From the resulting corner, Eric Dier headed just wide when unmarked six yards out.
And a couple of minutes later, Harry Kane was through down the middle and took his shot early but it was wide of Hart’s far post.
The visitors grew into the game as the half progressed and with their attacking prowess, always carried a threat. Aguero almost opened the scoring on 12 minutes, connecting well with Aleksandar Kolarov’s deep cross but volleying wide. Moments later, he dinked a pass in to Frank Lampard but the midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down.
There was a moment of alarm on 22 minutes when Hugo Lloris slipped as he came out to clear a long ball over the top, leaving Aguero to tussle with Federico Fazio for the loose ball, before the City striker also slipped and the ball ran harmlessly out of play.
The opening goal came on 29 minutes from a breakaway just seconds after we went close ourselves. Danny Rose’s deep cross fell perfectly for Eric Dier to volley goalwards only for Kolarov to block well. Nabil Bentaleb almost connected with the resulting corner, but Hart gathered the loose ball and bowled it out quickly to David Silva down the right. He streaked forwards and slipped a pass in behind our defence for Aguero, who fired a shot past Lloris.
City were enjoying a good spell and Rose did well to block Fernandinho’s drive from the edge of the area from a Kolarov cut-back, before a jinking Aguero run saw him evade two defenders and curl towards the bottom corner, but Lloris saved low down to his left.
We were still very much in the contest though and Kane tested Hart with a fine half-volley, while the striker’s delightful clipped cross into the area just before half-time found Ryan Mason onside and with just Hart to beat, but the England goalkeeper was swiftly off his line to block his effort eight yards out.
We also had the first real chance of the second period as we looked for a quick equaliser after the interval. Eriksen was caught in possession but we won the ball back quickly and Lamela saw his 20-yard drive blocked by Eliaquim Mangala.
Eriksen made way for Roberto Soldado just before the hour mark as we bolstered our striking options and we had a great opportunity to level on 61 minutes. Kane showed great strength to get the better of Martin Demichelis but, confronted by Hart and the City defender 15 yards from goal, he couldn’t work the space to get past them and Hart saved his effort.
At the other end, City so nearly made it 2-0 when Fernando dinked a pass in to Aguero six yards out, he took the bouncing ball past Lloris but, off balance, fired into the side netting from a tight angle. And Milner’s right-foot drive on 69 minutes looked to be heading towards the bottom corner, only for Vertonghen to block. Lloris then had to be alert to palm over Kolarov’s fierce 30-yard shot as the visitors continued to carve out the chances.
But we still carried a threat of our own and when Lamela and substitute Paulinho combined to set up Kane, he was tackled but the ball ran to Soldado whose goalbound shot was well blocked. The chances continued to flow at both ends though and Lloris needed to make a smart save with his legs to deny Kolarov from a tight angle.
We were thwarted again on 83 minutes when Paulino, Soldado and Lamela produced a lovely move which ended with Paulinho firing in a shot from 18 yards that Hart saved well. And when Rose skipped past Zabaleta down the left and sent over a fine cross which Lamela scissor-kicked goalwards, Hart was there again to palm the ball over the bar.
We did apply some late pressure with a number of balls into the City box, but nothing fell our way and when Lamela’s late corner was cleared at the near post, with it went our last chance of saving a point.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Dier, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose, Bentaleb, Mason (Paulinho 70), Lamela, Eriksen (Soldado 58), Chadli (Adebayor 84), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Yedlin, Chiriches, Stambouli.
City (4-2-3-1): Hart, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Mangala, Kolarov, Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner, Lampard (Nasri 72 (Bony 76)), Silva, Aguero (Boyata 89). Substitutes (not used): Caballero, Sagna, Clichy, Dzeko.
Goals: City – Aguero 29.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Bentaleb, Mason, Kane; City – Milner, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Silva.
Referee: Andre Marriner.