Match Report

City denied by Spurs fightback in Etihad thriller

WHAT A FEELING: Leroy Sane celebrates his goal
Premier League
Premier League
Sat 21 Jan
City saw a two-goal lead rubbed out by Tottenham in a thrilling encounter at the Etihad.

Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne gave the Blues a 2-0 advantage but Spurs rallied to claim a valuable point and leave City wondering about what might and perhaps should have been.

Pep Guardiola will have no complaints about his team’s response to last week’s loss at Everton, however, as his team turned in a fine display.

What happened

City had done their homework on Tottenham and tactically bossed the first half.

From the opening moments, the Blues pressed and harried, not allowing the visitors any time to play from the back and forcing Hugo Lloris to kick the ball long on more occasions than he perhaps would have liked.

The first of several half-chances for City came on 10 minutes when Pablo Zabaleta found space behind the Spurs defence but was challenged as he was about to shoot and the ball went out for a goal-kick.

BACK TO BACK: Mousa Dembele and Yaya Toure
BACK TO BACK: Mousa Dembele and Yaya Toure

David Silva tested Lloris with a low drive from 20 yards on 20 minutes but the French keeper was up to the challenge and palmed the ball around the post.

From the resulting corner De Bruyne played a low ball to the edge of the box where Zabaleta’s low shot fizzed past the foot of the post.

Watch: Pep Guardiola's post-match press conference

So dominant were City that Tottenham had to wait until the 24th-minute until they won a corner, with Nicolas Otamendi and Aleks Kolarov snuffing out the twin threat of Harry Kane and Dele Alli with some no-nonsense defending.

City’s high press resulted in a number of errors from Spurs at the back but the Blues couldn’t profit from any of them.

De Bruyne opted for placement on 27 minutes from one such raid and on 34 minutes Gael Clichy’s cross picked out Leroy Sane who headed a foot wide.

Then Aguero headed De Bruyne’s cross goalwards but it lacked power and Lloris plucked it from the air comfortably.

It was frustrating because the Blues deserved to be ahead for their endeavours but that one golden opportunity failed to materialise, though the home fans still gave the players warm applause for their efforts as they left the pitch at the break.

ON TARGET: Kevin De Bruyne
ON TARGET: Kevin De Bruyne

City needed some luck – the rub of the green that had maybe been absent in a number of games in recent weeks – and within 10 minutes of the restart, that’s exactly what they got.

With the second half barely four minutes old, De Bruyne’s searching pass through the middle set Sane clear and as Lloris raced out he attempted a header, missed and Sane was left to roll the ball into the empty net.

Four minutes later City doubled their lead and Lloris was again badly at fault as he fumbled Sterling’s low cross from the right and De Bruyne had the simplest of tasks to put the ball in the back of the net.

The goals may have had more than a shade of luck about them, but City had earned it.

The game was far from over, however, and on 58 minutes, Spurs were thrown a lifeline as Alli nodded home Kyle Walker’s excellent cross to halve the arrears – it was their first shot on target.

City had a penalty appeal waved away when Sterling and Kyle Walker tangled in the box but referee Andre Marriner wasn’t impressed as this enthralling encounter bubbled and boiled.

Then, on 77 minutes, Spurs levelled as Son Heung-min fired Kane’s low cross past Claudio Bravo to send the travelling fans wild.

It was harsh on City but there was still enough time left to try and find a winning goal.

The introduction of Gabriel Jesus on 80 minutes lifted the crowd and the Brazilian almost had a fairy-tale start to his City career as he slid the ball home from close range – only for the assistant referee to rule the effort out for offside.

City looked the more likely to take all three points in the minutes that remained with Fabian Delph missing a chance in the dying moments, but the winner didn’t come, even if the Blues deserved to edge this absorbing battle.

Key moment

Hard to look past the 30 seconds of play that completely changed the axis of this match.

Clean through with just Lloris to beat, Raheem Sterling was pushed by Kyle Walker as he was about to shoot - but didn't fall. His honesty probably almost certainly denied him a stonewall penalty plus a red card for Walker with the score at 2-1. 

Instead, Spurs counter-attacked and were level moments later - such are the fine margins of Premier League football. Perhaps the referee didn't see it from his angle, but his assistant perhaps should have done. Either way, it was a pivotal moment, particularly for City.

TOO HONEST? Raheem tried to do the right thing...
TOO HONEST? Raheem tried to do the right thing...


Gabriel Jesus watch

The teenager whipped in a cross with his first touch that could have resulted in a goal, then headed narrowly over the crossbar before seeing a goal disallowed – all in the space of a couple of manic minutes! With so little time to impress it’s amazing he did exactly that!

Quick, exciting and a continued nuisance to the tiring Spurs defence it was an exciting snapshot of what is to come in the remaining months of the season.

RULED OUT: Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the net but it didn't count
RULED OUT: Gabriel Jesus had the ball in the net but it didn't count


Star man

Leroy Sane looks more at home with each passing game and the young German just shaded the man-of-the-match honours over a number of strong candidates with his goal capping off an energetic performance fill of vim and vigour.

HEAD BOY: Leroy Sane
HEAD BOY: Leroy Sane


What it means

City remain in fifth place and will feel a chance was missed having led 2-0 – but Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United have also dropped points this weekend so the only real winner could prove to be Chelsea and Arsenal.

Next up…

It’s FA Cup action next for the Blues who travel to Crystal Palace next weekend, looking to book a place in the last 16 against Sam Allardyce’s men.

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