Match Report

City's second-half wonder show leaves Spurs stunned

City's second-half wonder show leaves Spurs stunned
Premier League
Premier League
Thu 19 Jan
4
2
Julián Álvarez 
(51'),  

Erling Haaland 
(53'),  

Riyad Mahrez 
(63', 90')

Dejan Kulusevski (1) 
(44'),  
Emerson Royal 
(47')
View highlights
City recovered from conceding two goals in two minutes at the end of the first-half to produce a stunning second 45 and beat Tottenham 4-2 on another memorable night at the Etihad Stadium.

The Blues were at their irresistible best when it was needed most to repeat Tottenham's feat by scoring twice in two minutes early after the break through Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland.

Two more from the excellent Riyad Mahrez completed a superb comeback by City who had to dig deep to turn this game around.

What happened?

With five changes from last weekend’s Manchester derby, Pep Guardiola was keen to freshen up his troops against an opponent City have struggled against in the past few seasons.

Adopting what seemed to be a 4-2-4 formation, the boss wanted to see more action in the opposition box with more support for Erling Haaland.

The Blues responded well, with several half-chances in the opening period and Rico Lewis’ deflected effort coming closest.

But the game turned in a bizarre three-minute spell just before the break.

First Erling Haaland stretched his neck muscles to a Rodrigo cross and nodded just over – had it gone in would have been just reward on the balance of play – but it didn’t.

What followed was hard to absorb as City conceded not one, but two goals in first-half added time.

The first was the result of a rare, misplaced pass by Ederson to Rodrigo on the edge of the City box – only for Bentancur to steal it off his toes and Dejan Kulusevski to slide the ball home.

Worse was to follow as Spurs attacked with seconds of the half remaining, Harry Kane won a 50-50 tackle with Rodrigo, fired in a shot and Ederson’s parry was nodded home by Emerson Royal to leave the Etihad and City players stunned.

It was going to take some inspirational words from the boss to raise his players' spirits - and whatever Pep said, worked a treat.

What was desperately needed was a quick goal after the restart – and that is exactly what happened as Mahrez’s trickery and cross saw the ball eventually fall at the feet of Alvarez who thumped the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards.

Game on!

City immediately attacked again, overwhelming Spurs in the process and just two minutes later the scores were level as Mahrez met a lofted pass into the box with a headed cross that Haaland nodded in from six yards out.

Cue pandemonium!

Two minutes after that, Mahrez skipped past a couple of challenges before rifling a shot inches wide.

But the Algerian, in mesmeric form, was not to be denied and on 63 minutes he had the goal his performance deserved, trapping a pass that looked almost impossible before gliding into the box, dropping his shoulder, and burying a right-foot shot inside Hugo Lloris’ near post.

It had been a remarkable turnaround – though there was still almost half-an-hour to play.

Chances came and went at either end, but City, inspired by some excellent performances all over the pitch - Jack Grealish and Nathan Ake to mention but two - secured victory in the 90th minutes.

Fittingly, it was the imperious Mahrez who raced clear, rounded Lloris and clipped the ball into the empty net to finally settle this absorbing encounter.

JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED...

Make no mistake, this was a huge win for City.

The external noise surrounding the Club if a third straight defeat had been suffered would have been deafening.

And trying to claw what could have potentially turned into an 11-point deficit (if Arsenal were to win their game in hand) would start have looked like a mountainous challenge.

But,as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and the heart, spirit and determination the City players showed from minute one of the second-half was immense.

It must have been some half-time team-talk, gaffer!

Star Man: Riyad Mahrez

Unplayable at times, Mahrez is a joy to watch in this form.

Two goals, one assist and a heavy involvement in another, he was integral in this remarkable turnaround.

What it means…

City trim Arsenal's lead down to five points, though the Gunners have one game in hand.

The victory puts the Blues three points clear of Manchester United (third) and four clear of Newcastle United in fourth place.

City have now reached the halfway point for the 2022/23 campaign.

Premier League
1 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 20 16 2 2 45 17 28 50 WDWWL
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 21 14 3 4 53 21 32 45 WLWWL
3 Manchester United FC Manchester United Man United 22 13 4 5 36 28 8 43 WWDLW
Last updated: 8 February 2023

What's next?

City host Wolves in the Premier League on Sunday with a 14:00pm (UK) kick-off.

Guardiola's men can briefly move within two points of leaders Arsenal who entertain Manchester United later on Sunday afternoon.

Then, the Gunners visit the Etihad in the FA Cup 4th round next Friday evening (20:00 UK) .

 

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Wolverhampton Wanderers FC

Pep reaction

"We have to prepare better, I cannot deny how happy we are but we are far away from the team that we were.

"Not in terms of play, we played good, but there are many things like competitiveness.

"We gave them the first goal, and then the second goal is ridiculous. There's nothing from the stomach, from the guts and we were lucky but if we don't change we will drop points."

Stats and facts

City have won our last two Premier League games in which we've been two goals behind at the break - we did it last against Crystal Palace in August.

There were just two minutes and eight seconds between Tottenham's goals, and two minutes and nine seconds between City's first two strikes in this match.

Riyad Mahrez has been involved in more Premier League goals against Spurs than he has against any other opponent - 11, scoring seven and assisting four.

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