A fine strike from Nacer Chadli wasn’t enough to prevent us slipping to defeat against Stoke City at the Lane on Sunday afternoon.
First half goals from Bojan Krkic and Jonathan Walters put the visitors in a commanding position at half-time, but Chadli reduced the deficit with a stunning volley 13 minutes from time. Kyle Naughton was sent off late on after bringing down Victor Moses when through on goal and Stoke held on in the closing stages to take the points.
There were three home-grown players in the starting line-up with Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane all selected by Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino and it was the latter who had the first chance of the game.
Just four minutes were on the clock when Christian Eriksen found Chadli, he burst down the right and clipped a lovely cross which Kane met with a diving header, but City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic saved on his line.
However, it was the visitors that grabbed the early lead on six minutes. Townsend lost possession, Steven Nzonzi picked up the ball and laid it off to Bojan on halfway. The Spaniard skipped past Naughton and advanced to the edge of the area before letting fly with a right-foot shot which beat Hugo Lloris, his first goal for Stoke.
There were plenty of chances in the first half, Eriksen firing just over with a 30-yard free-kick while the Potters were dangerous on the break and Naughton blocked Moses’ shot on one such attack. From the resulting corner, Marc Wilson scooped the loose ball over the bar.
Mason tried his luck from distance on 22 minutes but hit the side-netting, while another Stoke corner saw Ryan Shawcross hit a weak shot wide from close range. City were rocked by two defensive injuries in the first period, Phil Bardsley and Wilson both having to be replaced, but that didn’t prevent them adding a second goal on 33 minutes.
Danny Rose’s clearance was headed back into the danger area by Shawcross, Mame Diouf latched onto the ball down the right and delivered an inviting cross for Walters to tuck home past Lloris. Another breakaway two minutes later saw Diouf sent clear but Federico Fazio just managed to get a touch on his shot to send it wide for a corner, while at the other end, Chadli had an effort blocked but we went into the interval trailing by two.
There were two changes to our personnel at half-time, with Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela coming in for Eriksen and Townsend as we looked for a fast start to the second period. There was early pressure but no significant chances until the 59th minute, when Lamela whipped in a free-kick from out on the left which was met by Kane but, moving away from goal, he couldn’t get the accuracy on his header and it drifted wide.
Moses fizzed in a shot from the left angle of the area shortly after but it never threatened Lloris’ goal, while Etienne Capoue did likewise at the other end from a central position, but again the goalkeeper was untroubled.
Our third substitution of the day followed, Emmanuel Adebayor adding to our striking options as he replaced Capoue, but it was the visitors who almost added to their tally when Moses laid a square pass in to Diouf who advanced into the box but an outstanding tackle from Fazio stopped his progress on goal.
The visitors had another sight of goal on 72 minutes when Fazio’s clearance fell straight to Nzonzi but he drilled his left-foot shot well wide, while three minutes later we went so close to getting back into the game. Kane was upended by Marc Muniesa 20 yards from goal, Lamela stepped up with the free-kick which he got up and over the wall, but Begovic produced a superb one-handed diving save to keep him out.
And within a minute we did pull one back with a magnificent strike from Chadli. Rose delivered a deep cross from the left and it fell perfectly for the Belgian to lash home on the volley – his sixth Premier League goal in 10 appearances.
That changed the complexion of the contest and we were on the front foot again shortly after, Mason’s 20-yard volley dipping just over the crossbar. But the impetus swung once again on 84 minutes when Moses burst clear down the left and was through on goal, but Naughton clipped him from behind and was immediately dismissed by referee Michael Jones.
The visitors almost made the extra man pay dividends straight away when substitute Stephen Ireland drilled an effort which Lloris saved diving to his left. And when Fazio lost possession to Diouf on halfway, it needed a superb tackle from Rose to prevent Walters getting free down the right.
That led to a swift counter-attack which ended with Mason getting tripped right on the edge of the area, but Kane hammered the free-kick straight into the wall. And, as five minutes of stoppage time neared an end, Chadli sent over a cross which Adebayor met but headed wide – and with it went our chance of salvaging a point.
Spurs: Lloris, Naughton, Kaboul, Fazio, Rose, Capoue (Adebayor 64), Mason, Townsend (Lamela 46), Eriksen (Dembele 46), Chadli, Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Dier, Vertonghen, Soldado.
Stoke: Begovic, Bardsley (Cameron 9), Shawcross, Wilson (Muniesa 26), Peters, Nzonzi, Sidwell, Diouf, Moses, Walters, Bojan (Ireland 84). Substitutes (not used): Sorensen, Adam, Arnautovic, Crouch.
Goals: Spurs – Chadli 77; Stoke – Bojan 6, Walters 33.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Capoue, Mason, Kaboul; Stoke – Cameron, Begovic.
Red card: Spurs - Naughton.
Referee: Michael Jones.