An amazing and thrilling comeback in which we scored three goals in seven crazy second half minutes kept our hopes of a top four finish well and truly alive as we beat Manchester City 3-1 at the Lane on Sunday afternoon.
Samir Nasri had given the reigning league champions an early lead after just five minutes and City looked like taking the points until we exploded into life with just 15 minutes remaining, with quick-fire goals from Clint Dempsey, Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale turning the game on its head and leaving White Hart Lane absolutely buzzing at the final whistle.
Andre Villas-Boas made three changes from the side that started in Switzerland against Basel, with Hugo Lloris, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Bale replacing Brad Friedel, Kyle Naughton and Lewis Holtby. It was Assou-Ekotto’s 200th appearance in all competitions for us.
Bale was making his return from the ankle injury sustained here against the Swiss side and was swiftly in the thick of the action, firing in the first shot of the game after just four minutes but it took a slight deflection and was comfortable for Joe Hart in the City goal.
Just over a minute later though, the reigning league champions went ahead. Carlos Tevez got away down the right and although he was initially held up by Jan Vertonghen, he managed to slip a reverse ball to James Milner. The England man broke into the area down the byline and pulled it back for Nasri to side-foot volley home, evading Lloris and Kyle Walker on the goalline.
While there was a good tempo and intensity to the game, clear chances were at a premium but we carved one out on 22 minutes when Dempsey clipped a delightful pass to Walker, who raced into the box but couldn’t beat the advancing Hart and the ball went out for a corner, which came to nothing.
Six minutes later Nasri almost doubled City’s advantage with his second of the game after being played in by Tevez. The French midfielder slipped past one defender but as Lloris raced off his line he could only poke the ball wide of the far post.
The half ended with a flurry of goalmouth activity if no change to the scoreline. Edin Dzeko tested Lloris with a low shot with the keeper saved comfortably, before he palmed away a stooping header from Tevez after Matija Nastasic had headed Gareth Barry’s corner back across goal.
At the other end, Dempsey climbed highest to meet Sigurdsson’s corner but could only head over, before the final chance fell to the Icelandic international. Walker beat Gael Clichy again down the right, fired in a low cross which missed Adebayor but found Sigurdsson, only for his instinctive shot to be blocked by Pablo Zabaleta.
By comparison though, the second half began relatively quietly and it wasn’t until just before the hour mark that either side had a sight of goal. That came from the boot of Bale, but his free-kick from the right-hand edge of the box went high and wide.
City then threatened two minutes later when Zabaleta’s cross was cleared by Walker but only as far as Toure who drilled in a first time shot straight at Lloris.
We made a double substitution with Holtby and Tom Huddlestone entering the fray in place of Scott Parker and Sigurdsson as we searched for the equaliser and we certainly started to dominate possession. Defoe then came off the bench for his first appearance since our win at Swansea City, replacing Adebayor.
And sure enough the changes paid immediate dividends as we scored a well-deserved leveller on 75 minutes. After a good spell of pressure, Walker picked up the loose ball 25 yards out and shaped to shoot but instead rolled it to Bale free down the right. His lovely low cross evaded everyone except Dempsey at the far post, who stuck out a leg and poked the ball past Hart for his 11th of the season.
That got White Hart Lane rocking again, but that was nothing compared to what happened four minutes later! This time Holtby led the charge forward and slipped in Defoe down the left channel, he made his way into the box, worked a yard of space onto his right foot and curled a wonderful shot past the facing defender Kompany and Hart in goal.
And incredibly, it got even better! The delirious fans were still catching their breath when we broke again, Huddlestone produced a wonderful throughball which carved City open again, finding Bale running in on goal and he lifted his shot over the advancing Hart for 3-1.
City were reeling and could only muster one final effort, substitute Aleksander Kolarov blazing his free-kick wide as the game entered injury time.
The win might only keep us in fifth for now, but it keeps us right in the race for the top four and will be a massive boost for the remaining five games.
Spurs (4-4-1-1): Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dempsey, Parker (Huddlestone 61), Dembele, Sigurdsson (Holtby 61); Bale, Adebayor (Defoe 71). Substitutes (not used): Friedel, Naughton, Caulker, Livermore.
City (4-3-3): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy (Lescott 91); Milner (Kolarov 45), Toure Y, Barry; Tevez, Dzeko (Sinclair 83), Nasri. Substitutes (not used): Pantilimon, Toure K, Garcia, Aguero.
Goals: Spurs – Dempsey (75), Defoe (79), Bale (82); City – Nasri (5)
Yellows: Spurs – Dawson, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone; City – Toure Y, Hart.
Referee: Lee Mason