Match Report

City slip to opening day defeat at Tottenham

ON THE FRONT FOOT: Grealish carries City forward early on.
Premier League
Premier League
Sun 15 Aug
Son Heung-Min 
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City’s 2021/22 Premier League campaign got off to a disappointing start as we suffered an opening day defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

Son Heung-Min’s 55th minute strike ultimately proved the difference and was enough to hand the hosts all three points as our Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hoodoo continued.

City had our chances – especially in a dominant first 15 minutes – but we failed to make that early pressure tell and ultimately it proved to be an afternoon of frustration for Pep Guardiola’s reigning champions.

What happened

As ever, anticipation and expectation were at fever pitch at the start of the new campaign and all eyes, of course, were on summer signing Jack Grealish who was handed his City Premier League bow.

And inside three minutes there was a thrilling early glimpse of the England man’s power and panache as he drove at the Spurs backline and was upended just outside the box.

With City immediately on the front foot, skipper Fernandinho then sent a 10-yard header agonisingly wide from a teasing Gundogan ball before Joao Cancelo miscued a close-range shot after superb work by Riyad Mahrez.

It was an imposing, dominant start with City’s fluency and fluidity already encouragingly evident against a dangerous Spurs side who weren’t averse to showing a muscular approach.

The only thing missing was a goal.

ACTION STATIONS: Ilkay Gundogan takes the fight to Spurs
ACTION STATIONS: Ilkay Gundogan takes the fight to Spurs

But with the hosts settling down after a testing start, there was a reminder of the threat posed by Nuno Espirito Santo’s men midway through the first half.

It needed a vital goal line block from Ilkay Gundogan to deny Lucas Moura with the Brazilian firing in a goal-bound angled drive after Ederson had only partially punched a free-kick clear.

There was another inviting opportunity for City 10 minutes from the break after some sublime skills from Sterling found the onrushing Mahrez driving into the centre of the box.

However, just at the point of contact, the Algerian slipped and his subsequent shot sailed harmlessly wide.

In a breathless first 45 it was then Spurs’ turn to threaten, a deflection off Joao Cancelo’s backside enough to ensure Son’s 20-yard shot missed the target.

It was Spurs who turned up the attacking ante after the break and it was danger man Son who broke the deadlock on 55 minutes.

WATCHING BRIEF: Pep Guardiola looks on
WATCHING BRIEF: Pep Guardiola looks on

Another Spurs counter put City on the back foot and Bergwijn found the South Korean on the right flank. He cut inside before curling a left foot shot beyond Ederson into the far-right corner of the net.

There was then a huge let-off for City after another lightning Spurs break.

A deflection sent an inviting ball into the path of the advancing Bergwijn but, fortunately, his 12-yard shot rippled the side netting after Ederson rushed out to narrow the angle.

A cleverly worked free-kick almost saw Torres strike to draw us level before Grealish forced Lloris into a decent save after a fine assist from substitute Gabriel Jesus.

And the Spurs keeper was there again to palm away a goalbound effort from Kevin De Bruyne, who was sent on as a late substitute and added fresh impetus to our attacks.

But the hosts held on to make it a frustrating start to our title defence as we suffered a fourth straight loss at Spurs' new stadium.


SPURS: Lloris, Tanganga (Doherty 89), Sanchez, Dier, Reguilon, Skipp, Hjojberg (Romero 89), Bergwijn (Lo Selso 77), Alli, Moura, Son

Subs: Winks, Gil, Sissoko, Gollini, Davies, Scarlett

CITY: Ederson, Cancelo, Dias, Ake, Mendy (Zinchenko 78), Fernandinho (c), Gundogan, Grealish, Sterling (Jesus 70), Torres, Mahrez (De Bruyne 78)

Subs: Steffen, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Rodrigo, Bernardo

LEADING MAN: Skipper Fernandinho looks to drive City on
LEADING MAN: Skipper Fernandinho looks to drive City on

First footing

With all the focus and attention on Jack Grealish on what was his City Premier League debut, despite the result there were plenty of encouraging signs of what to expect from the England attacking midfielder.

Always full of intent and confidence, the 25-year-old looked to attack at every opportunity and never backed down even in the face of some full-blooded challenges.

There were also several instances of some exciting link-up play with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan which only augurs well.

The best is yet to come from Grealish.

Pep Guardiola’s reaction

"We started really well and after 20 minutes we allowed them too much running in transition. With Son, Bergwijn and Lucas Moura, we wanted to avoid it.

"In general, we showed a good spirit and good intention and we arrived in the final third many times, but we could not be clinical enough. Son scores and we lose.

"We need to be more precise. Teams are waiting to punish us. But I see in the game many, many good things. I know the result wasn't what we wanted but I saw things that will make us better."

Up next

City return to Premier League action next Saturday when we play host to newly-promoted Norwich City at the Etihad.

Kick-off is at 3pm and the game will not be televised in the UK.

However, we’ll have full coverage here on, including our Matchday Live show, live updates in our Matchday Centre and report and reaction after the full-time whistle.

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