Tottenham 0-2 Manchester City: Haaland brace sees City dispel their Spurs curse to put the title in their hands

A pair of Erling Haaland goals in the second half saw Manchester City defeat Tottenham for the first time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The result means Pep Guardiola’s side are within touching distance of becoming the first team to win four consecutive Premier League titles, while the home side are now out of the running for UEFA Champions League football.

Embed from Getty Images

As it happened

For a game that had such enormous implications on the title race, this was a first half defined not by its quality, but by its sloppiness.

At first, all of the qualities which won City the last three Premier League titles were amiss. Rúben Dias, Rodri and Bernardo Silva were all culpable for passing the ball to no one. Goalscoring potency was nowhere to be found; they could only muster one shot on target all half. It didn’t feel like a Pep Guardiola side in the opening 45 minutes.

Spurs weren’t much better, though. Both sides had roughly 90% passing accuracy – which sounds good – but in effect, it meant lots of short passes completed and virtually every final ball misplaced.

They did manage to create the first big chance though, with Brennan Johnson finding Rodrigo Bentancur just inside the box with a lovely cutback in the sixth minute, but the Uruguayan’s strike, while hit hard and true, was straight at Ederson, who tipped it over the bar.

Embed from Getty Images

City had a big chance of their own, too, with Phil Foden latching onto a horribly mis-hit clearance from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg and seeing his well-struck volley miraculously saved at point-blank range by Guglielmo Vicario.

But that was it: two shots on target in the first half meant the atmosphere was unusual. Spurs fans weren’t just watching a game whereby their side could direct their bitterest rivals on a clear path to their first league title in 20 years, but they were also watching the current champions playing like… well, Spurs.

The second half was a different story.

It was clear immediately that Kevin de Bruyne wanted to be the man to drag City to victory, and he forced another excellent Vicario save in the 47th minute, blasting a fierce effort which the Italian pushed wide of the post.

Son, nowhere to be seen in the first half, then came close to scoring his customary goal against these opponents, as he latched onto a low Johnson cross before trying to lift it over Ederson from close range, but the Brazilian spread himself and smothered the effort. Two shots on target in the opening four minutes of the second half were a clear indicator that the teams had come out with renewed vigour.

So, it wasn’t too surprising when the first goal came in the 51st minute. De Bruyne was involved again, this time turning provider as he slid the ball into the six-yard box for Haaland to tap into an empty net. For a City side who looked nothing like their usual selves in the first half, this was a quintessential Guardiola goal.

Embed from Getty Images

Much of the rest of the drama came from substitutes. Dejan Kulusevski was a constant thorn in the visitors’ side, and it was he who produced an inadvertent, game-changing contribution.

Crossing the ball into the area, the Swede’s ball was overhit and smothered by Ederson; but Cristian Romero crashed into the shot-stopper’s head, resulting in a long delay due to concussion protocols.

When Ederson did get up, Romero was booked and the keeper continued; but not for long. Four minutes after the incident, an incensed Ederson was removed and replaced by Stefan Ortega – a change which would prove pivotal.

In the 86th minute, still eager to score, Son latched onto the ball after Johnson picked Akanji’s pocket in the middle of the park. With acres of space he ran through on goal and tried to slide it past Ortega, but the German was equal to it, sticking out a leg to prevent a typical Son goal and keep City’s lead intact in the process; it was a huge moment not only in the game, but in the title race.

Embed from Getty Images

Four minutes later, Spurs were made to rue the missed opportunity. Substitute Jérémy Doku brought down a terrific Foden switch and had only Pedro Porro between him and Vicario. He jinked once and jinked twice towards goal, with the second effort drawing a mistimed tackle from the right back which brought him down in the area. It was a clear penalty and a chance for City to put the tie to bed.

And as ever is the case when Erling Haaland steps up, that was exactly what happened, with the Norwegian smashing the penalty into the top left corner to guarantee the champions their most important three points of the season.

So, it all goes down to the final day. City sit two points to the good and have West Ham to face, knowing it’s entirely in their hands: a win guarantees an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title. It’s heartbreak for Arsenal, who can beat Everton at the Emirates and still finish runners-up.

For Spurs, it’s also a bitter defeat. They may have prevented their North-London rivals a point-blank shot at the league title, but they’ve ruled themselves out of Champions League football in the process. They can win at Sheffield United at the weekend and it will do no good: Aston Villa have beaten them to fourth.

It was Haaland the hero again, and it all goes down to the final day. That’s the Premier League for you.

The lineups

TOT: Vicario; Van de Ven, Drăguşin, Romero, Porro; Sarr, Højbjerg, Bentancur; Maddison, Son, Johnson

MCI: Ederson; Gvardiol, Dias, Akanji, Walker; Rodri, Kovačić, Foden, De Bruyne, Silva; Haaland


Responses

  1. Denise Kennedy

    That was a brilliant report clear, concise and helped me visualise the match as it was, well done. I hope you sail through and land a great job at the end

  2. ERIK GARNER

    Superb Harvs. Really clear and professional. Well done. I look forward to reading more soon.

    1. Anonymous

      A great result and a great match report!

  3. HH

    Excellent, balanced and exciting report. I wish I was there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *