Spurs’ unbeaten run is ended by Man City
Mauricio Pochettino admits visitors were the better side after controversial penalty award set champions-elect on the way to victory at Wembley
14 April, 2018 — By Dan Carrier at Wembley
SPURS 1 (Eriksen 41)
MANCHESTER CITY 3 (Jesus 21, Gundogan 25, Sterling 72)
MANCHESTER City completed a league double over Tottenham at Wembley tonight – ending a 16-match unbeaten run that started after Spurs had been turned over 4-1 at the Etihad in December.
Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Ikey Gundogan and Raheem Sterling put Pep Guardiola’s team on the brink of clinching the Premier League title, and City’s return to form after three straight defeats made it a frustrating night for the home side.
City can now win the league if Manchester United lose tomorrow (Sunday) against bottom of the table West Brom.
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said after the match he felt his team lost the points through their tepid start. He said: “We began badly. We missed the first 20, 25 minutes and conceded two goals against City, who have shown they are the best in the league.
“We did start to recover and then of course scored, and started really well in the second half – but City were better over the 90.”
He added that while he had watched a replay of the penalty decision that gave City their second and noted the foul was outside the box, it made no difference overall.
Pochettino said: “Sometimes decisions go for us, sometimes against us. We lost the game because they were better than us. After I watched it again, I would say it was not a penalty, but we made the first mistake that led to it and I am not going to complain.”
He said his players would now re-focus on cementing their top-four spot and getting ready for a semi-final date against Manchester United next weekend.
He added: “We are disappointed but it is nothing to worry about. We have plenty still to come.”
City set the tone from the start, attacking with verve and pace as they shrugged off the recent disappointments of being turned over by Liverpool in the Champions League and Manchester United in the Premier League.
Spurs survived an early scare when Leroy Sane sent a volley against the upright with Hugo Lloris well beaten in the opening five – a harbinger of what was in store. Before Tottenham had strung any sort of move together, Sterling drove a shot over when the target was there to be hit, and the excellent Kevin De Bruyne smashed one wide. No response of any note was offered by a Spurs side who were affording the champions-elect just too much respect.
Jesus gave City the lead on 21 when he broke the offside trap and left Davinson Sanchez floundering with a clean pair of heels. He finished well, driving his shot beneath Lloris who didn’t get off his line quick enough to genuinely narrow the angle. It was to be a night that can be best put down to experience for Sanchez, who didn’t have a bad game overall but could certainly have done better for two of City’s goals.
It went from bad to worst three minutes later, when Sterling skipped after a long ball and Lloris charged from his line to get to it ahead of him. The keeper’s despairing, feet-first lunge caught the forward on the edge of the box and the referee awarded a penalty, which was duly despatched by Gundogan. It might have been harsh as Sterling was fouled outside the box – but, in fairness, it was all City deserved for the danger they created.
Spurs slowly got a foothold as City’s relentless pace wore off – and Christian Eriksen pulled one back just before half-time when he wriggled onto Harry Kane’s pass into the box and tucked home.
It gave the home side some belief that had been sorely lacking up to that point, and the team of the season did not look quite so invincible. The confidence seeped back into Spurs and mistakes crept into City’s play.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw Pochettino’s charges build up momentum, and there was a sense of anticipation in the air as City’s defence had to scramble away crosses and work hard to contain the threats from Tottenham’s fluid attack.
But as Spurs looked like they might make amends for a terrible first half, City found an escape via a rare foray forward: Lloris was tested from range and couldn’t hold on to the ball. Sterling reacted quickly to slam home from close range. It kickstarted a party in the City end, and while Spurs tried all they could to find another unlikely route back, they lacked the gumption to create anything other than half-chances.
Spurs remain in fourth place, six points ahead of Chelsea with five games left to play, so while disappointing, tonight’s defeat is not a disaster – and the players and fans still have the FA Cup semi-final to look forward to.
Spurs: Lloris, Trippier, Vertonghen, Sanchez, Kane, Lamela (Son, 63) Dier, Dembele (Moura, 72), Alli (Sissoko, 83), Eriksen, Davies.
Subs not used: Vorm, Wanyama, Aurier, Sterling.
City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Sterlin, Gundogan, Laporte, De Bruyne (Toure, 89) Delph, Sane (Otamendi, 63) Silva, Jesus (Silva, 75).
Subs not used: Bravo, Zinchenko, Foden, Diaz.