Two goals in the closing 12 minutes of the game from Stoke City denied us our first win of the season as we shared the points with the Potters in our opening home match of the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League campaign.
Eric Dier – who scored our first goal of last season – did so again this term when he headed us in front after 19 minutes before Nacer Chadli added a second on the stroke of half-time, with City goalkeeper Jack Butland making a number of fine saves to keep the score at just 2-0.
But, despite further chances to extend our lead early in the second period, it was the visitors who stormed back to force a draw. They halved the deficit when Marko Arnautovic scored from the penalty spot with 12 minutes remaining and levelled it up five minutes later through Mame Biram Diouf to leave us frustrated at the final whistle.
Mauricio Pochettino made two changes to the side which lost on the opening day at Old Trafford, with Ryan Mason returning to the starting line-up in midfield at the expense of Nabil Bentaleb and Hugo Lloris taking over in goal from Michel Vorm, the French international making his 100th Premier League appearance for us. Toby Alderweireld was in the side again, making his home debut.
The early chances revolved around Christian Eriksen, who was twice denied by Potters goalkeeper Butland. With seven minutes on the clock, the Dane picked up a loose ball and fired in a low left-footed shot from 15 yards which Butland scrambled away for a corner. And two minutes later, he saved well again, this time from Eriksen’s 22-yard free-kick, the keeper tipping his effort round the post for another corner, which came to nothing.
City’s first opportunity came on 11 minutes but it was of our own making as Lloris played a pass out from goal which was intercepted by Diouf, but the skipper made amends by saving the latter's effort, while Mason did well to block Marco van Ginkel’s shot from the rebound before Alderweireld cleared the danger.
Our first goal of the new season came on 19 minutes from a set piece. Dier had released Kyle Walker down the right, his cut-back came to Mason whose fierce shot was diverted away for a corner by Marc Muniesa. This time Eriksen’s delivery was pinpoint and Dier climbed highest to glance a header past Butland and into the net.
Both sides had chances to score in the closing minutes of the half. First, Eriksen pinged a delightful pass over the top of the Stoke defence for Chadli, who raced clear but a heavy touch saw the ball travel through to Butland.
Then the visitors threatened to level when Arnautovic played a smart one-two with Ibrahim Affelay, Mason got a touch on the return pass but couldn’t prevent the Austrian working his way through on goal down the left side of the area, but his centre drifted low across the face of goal and ran away to safety.
We had Lloris to thank for preserving our lead when he pulled off a point-blank save from Diouf’s header from six yards.
Harry Kane then clipped a ball over at the other end for Mason, who controlled and flicked goalwards in one movement but Butland was off his line well to deny the midfielder. Just moments later, though, another wonderful Kane pass this time sent Ben Davies away down the left, he sent over a deep cross which Chadli volleyed right-footed into the bottom corner and we went in two goals to the good at the interval.
We made a bright, positive start to the second period as well and could have scored again six minutes into it, as Chadli burst away down the left before finding Kane with a superb pass inside the area, our 31-goal top scorer last season being denied by a fine stop from Butland.
Stoke were certainly carrying a threat going forward, however, Lloris saving low down to deny Arnautovic before once again preventing Diouf scoring with a header on the edge of the six-yard box.
We made changes to freshen things up midway through the half with Erik Lamela and Bentaleb replacing Kane and Mason and a third goal almost arrived on 70 minutes when Mousa Dembele tested Butland with a drive from 20 yards, the keeper repelling his effort and doing likewise from Lamela on the rebound.
Stoke substitute Joselu sent a header over the bar from Affelay’s corner on 76 minutes when he perhaps should have done better as the visitors looked to work their way back into the contest, and they did just that moments later from the penalty spot. Alderweireld was adjudged to have bundled over Joselu almost on the byline inside the area and Arnautovic stepped up to reduce the deficit.
Five minutes later it was 2-2, with Diouf finally getting the better of Lloris. Arnautovic found Stephen Ireland, who delivered a teasing cross from the left which Diouf headed home. And Ireland had an opportunity to give the visitors the lead, only to head over the bar from Arnautovic’s cross in the 86th minute.
That was the last real opportunity of the game as the whistle blew, leaving us to reflect on what might have been.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c), Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Mason (Bentaleb 69), Dier, Dembele, Eriksen, Chadli, Kane (Lamela 63). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Rose, Trippier, Carroll, Alli.
Stoke (4-2-3-1): Butland, Johnson, Cameron, Muniesa, Pieters, Whelan (c), van Ginkel (Ireland 59), Walters (Joselu 59), Afellay, Arnautovic (Adam 90), Diouf. Substitutes (not used): Given, Sidwell, Crouch, Wollscheid.
Goals: Spurs – Dier 19, Chadli 45+2; Stoke – Arnautovic 78 (pen), Diouf 83.
Yellow cards: Spurs – Walker, Davies; Stoke – Whelan, Muniesa.
Referee: Robert Madley.