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City stage second-half comeback - on-the-whistle report

Manchester City 4-2 Spurs

Thu 19 January 2023, 22:00|Tottenham Hotspur

We left the Etihad Stadium empty-handed on Thursday evening after Manchester City wiped out our two-goal half-time lead with four unanswered strikes of their own after the interval.

A quick-fire double on the stroke of half-time from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal put us in command, but back came City with a swift brace of their own just after the restart – Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland on target to make it 2-2 in the 53rd minute. They then took the lead 10 minutes later through Riyad Mahrez, who added a fourth in the closing stages to seal the win for the home side.

We made a confident start to the game, which was quite end-to-end without there being any real goalmouth action. In fact, the drama didn’t start until the 36th minute, Ederson saving Heung-Min Son’s header on his goal-line before Hugo Lloris made a fine diving save to his left to keep out Rico Lewis’ deflected shot which was heading for the bottom corner.

Haaland then spurned two chances in quick succession and it looked like we were heading for a stalemate at the break until we struck twice in three minutes. The first was a gift, Ederson playing Rodri into trouble on the edge of the City area and his touch, under pressure from the returning Rodrigo Bentancur, was snaffled up by Kulusveski who slotted home. And it got better as we broke away in stoppage time, Kulusveski playing in Harry Kane who slid in to win the ball from Rodri on the byline, his drive from a tight angle was saved by Ederson but only as far as Royal, who gleefully headed into an empty net.

City responded though with two goals in the space of three minutes early in the second period. It was 2-1 when a bit of a scramble ensued from Mahrez’s cross and Alvarez slammed home, while the equaliser came when Mahrez headed Rodri’s pass back across goal and Haaland nodded in from close range.

We almost went ahead again when Kane and Kulusevski combined for Ivan Perisic at the back post, but his shot was deflected onto the crossbar by Rico Lewis and City cleared. Instead, it was the hosts with the fifth goal of the game, Mahrez winning the ball out on the right from Perisic, advancing into the area and firing past Lloris at his near post. The remainder of the half was fairly even, although City had the upper hand in terms of possession and we never really threatened Ederson’s goal, while it was the home side who extended their lead in the 90th minute, Mahrez latching onto substitute Clement Lenglet’s poor touch before racing away and dinking a finish over Lloris.

In team news, Antonio Conte made four changes to the team that started against Arsenal on Sunday as Royal, Ben Davies, Bentancur and Perisic came back in for Matt Doherty, Lenglet, Pape Matar Sarr and Ryan Sessegnon, who were all on the bench. It was Bentancur’s first start for us since November, having recovered from a muscle injury sustained in Uruguay’s final group match at the World Cup, and he put in a solid shift during his 75-minute appearance.

'I have seen a team that in every moment tried to play with personality'

Antonio told SPURSPLAY after the full-time whistle: "My thoughts are that we had a good performance. If I compare this performance with the performance of last season, I think tonight, we played better. But, to concede four goals is not usual. This is the first time for this team for this to happen. Usually, my team never concedes four goals, especially in only 45 minutes. In this aspect, I’m disappointed. On the other side, for sure, I have seen a team that in every moment tried to play with personality, give difficulty to Manchester City and, with more experience, I think we could manage the situation much better in the second half."

Manchester City 4-2 Spurs

Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson, Lewis (Walker 83), Akanji, Stones, Ake, Gundogan (c) (Silva 81), Rodri, Grealish, Mahrez, Haaland (Dias 90+1), Alvarez. Substitutes (not used): Ortega, Phillips, Cancelo, Laporte, De Bruyne, Foden.

Spurs (3-4-3): Lloris (c), Romero, Dier, Davies (Lenglet 78), Royal (Richarlison 78), Hojbjerg, Bentancur (Bissouma 75), Perisic (Sessegnon 69), Kulusevski, Kane, Son. Substitutes (not used): Forster, Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Sarr.

Match data

Goals: City – Alvarez 51, Haaland 53, Mahrez 63, 90; Spurs – Kulusevski 44, Royal 45+2.

Yellow cards: City – Mahrez; Spurs – Romero, Hojbjerg.

Referee: Simon Hooper.

Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Weather: Clear sky, gentle breeze, three degrees.

Attendance: 53,088.