City 1-2 Spurs
Report from Etihad Stadium
14 February 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Birthday boy Christian Eriksen secured a dramatic late winner at Manchester City on Sunday.
The Danish playmaker showed nerves of steel to finish clinically from Erik Lamela’s through ball in the 83rd minute.
The foundations of this key victory were, however, based on a solid defensive display with dangerman Sergio Aguero generally kept quiet.
With City substitute Kelechi Iheanacho having cancelled out Harry Kane's penalty there was always a chance the game could go either way as we entered the closing stages at 1-1 - and it went in our favour, as substitute Lamela drove forward and played in Eriksen for his fifth goal in the Premier League this term, stretching our unbeaten record on the road to 12 and making it five league wins on the trot.
Mauricio Pochettino reverted to the same line-up that was so impressive in the win over Norwich City recently with Danny Rose and Kyle Walker back in at full-back. In midfield, Dele Alli returned, as did Heung-Min Son, with Nacer Chadli and Lamela dropping to the bench.
We were fastest out of the blocks and controlled the opening exchanges with lots of possession but no chances.
City grew into the game, though, and forced a couple of early corners with 10 minutes gone, Aguero scooping one of them over the bar from a decent opening.
Son had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later after good work from Walker on the right but the flag went up early for off-side.
It was developing into a fairly even contest with both sides probing and pushing, although chances remained few and far between.
Rose heroically threw himself in front of a Raheem Sterling volley with 24 minutes on the clock but the deadlock remained and our early rhythm went astray somewhat as we became a little more lacklustre in possession.
That rhythm showed signs of returning, however, as Eriksen forced a smart save from Joe Hart three minutes later, sparking a spell of dominance from us.
Rose had been full of energy throughout and with five minutes of the first half remaining he had what looked like a goalbound volley deflected over the bar by Pablo Zabaleta.
City almost grabbed the lead straight after the restart when a deflected ball from Yaya Toure fell kindly into the path of Aguero but he blazed his shot well over the bar from a great position.
The game changed a few minutes later as we got ourselves in front. Rose crossed from the left and referee Mark Clattenburg gave a penalty for handball against Sterling as he blocked it. Kane had endured a quiet afternoon but stepped up when it mattered to put his penalty straight down the middle to give us the lead on 53 minutes.
City came back at us with momentum and Toure rattled the bar with a curling free-kick as the game sparked into life.
The home side had their tails up at that point as they attacked in droves, turning us back towards our own goal. It wasn’t as easy on the eye as the first half with both sides giving the ball away regularly but it remained just as tense.
City got themselves level with 16 minutes remaining as Gael Clichy found space down the left and dragged a cross perfectly back into the path of substitute Iheanacho, who produced an emphatic finish to rifle past Hugo Lloris into the roof of the net.
The home side smelled blood and Toure then stung the palms of Lloris with a rasping drive from distance.
However, we found the winning goal seven minutes from time as Lamela, who had replaced Alli just a couple of minutes earlier, drove through the middle and slipped the ball through to Eriksen, who calmly turned it past Hart.
There was still plenty of time left, though, and after a Kane snapshot flew wide of the near post, City piled forward once more and centre-backs Kevin Wimmer and Toby Alderweireld had to be spirited in their defending.
City looked to have created one final chance in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Sterling got to the byline on the right and hooked the ball dangerously into the six-yard box but Lloris leapt up with everything he had to get some vital fingertips to it - David Silva then blazing over at the far post from a tight angle.
Mauricio Pochettino said
“I’m very happy and pleased with the effort of the players, they were brilliant one more time,” said Mauricio.
“We were consistent and showed big maturity – we’re still the youngest squad in the Premier League, but we were fantastic.
“The players are a credit and it’s a pleasure to work with this team. The character and mentality are fantastic.
“Today we can say that we have the quality, of course, but the mentality is amazing and how we’ve improved in all aspects.”
Once again, Mauricio joined the players in celebrating with the fans at the final whistle.
“Another important thing is how we shared the win with the supporters at the end, how the players appreciate the supporters and how the supporters appreciate our efforts,” he added. “We say thanks again, our supporters are brilliant and that’s key for us.”
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Otamendi, Clichy (Kolarov 74); Fernandinho, Fernando (Iheanacho 66); Silva, Toure, Sterling; Aguero. Substitutes (not used): Caballero, Demichelis, Celina, A Garcia, M Garcia.
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dembele, Dier; Alli (Lamela 81), Eriksen, Son (Carroll 72); Kane (Chadli 89). Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Trippier, Mason.
Goals: Manchester City – Iheanacho 74. Spurs – Kane 53 (pen), Eriksen 83.
Yellow cards: Manchester City – Kompany 46. Spurs - Dier 45, Wimmer 56, Carroll 76.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg.