Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Manchester City
SECOND-HALF goals from Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son, shortly after the dismissal of Oleksandr Zinchenko, proved decisive as Spurs closed the gap of the Premier League’s top four with a dramatic victory over champions, Manchester City, at a rocking Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
This was very much a case of which Spurs, and, for that matter City would show up. Jose Mourinho clearly wasn’t to be fooled by any suggestions of a decline in Pep Guardiola’s men, explaining: “Champions, double champions, even more impressive and the potential and number of points, normally, to be champions again.
“I don’t think they have a problem. The problem is that Liverpool are winning matches and keeping them at a distance.”
Spurs handed a debut to Dutch midfielder, Bergwijn, brought in on the deadline from PSV Eindhoven for the best part of £27m. Boss Mourinho – trying to plant his own stamp on the squad – waxed lyrical over his addition: “Obviously, the reason why the club decided to sign him is because of his quality, his future and he fits well in the way we want to try to play football.
“I’m not saying tomorrow, I’m saying give him time – and I am totally convinced he is going to be a very good player for us and a player that our supporters are going to enjoy over the next years.”
Nevertheless, with the title already seemingly on its way to Anfield, it could be argued that the game was of hugely more significance to the North Londoners than City.
Opening exchanges were crisp, neat but slightly frenetic. Kevin De Bruyne sliced wide, while Ederson raced from his goal to fly-kick clear as Dele looked to profit. However, genuine clear-cut opportunities came at a premium, with defences keen to ‘keep a lid on it.’ Sergio Aguero attempted to open the proverbial ‘can of worms’ – however, his right-footed attempt came back off the foot of an upright, much to the relief of those occupying the huge bank behind the goal.
But then another moment of controversy – courtesy of VAR of course. Referee Mike Dean initially waved away penalty claims after Aguero came together with Serge Aurier. However, as the game continued, those overseeing the contest, miles from the stadium overturned the decision. Ilkay Gündogan’ s resulting spot-kick was saved by Hugo Lloris – then further confusion loomed as the City players wanted a second penalty after Sterling went over the French keeper in an attempt to follow up.
This time, no foul was given – I think it is fair to say, both sets of fans were bemused, confused and to be honest, a little fed up with the games latest gadget. Meanwhile, Aguero found the side netting as City looked to breakthrough ahead of the interval.
If the audience thought the half-time cuppa would settle the nerves, they were wrong. Lloris and Japhet Tanganga collided – Toby Alderweireld cleared off the line as Aguero pounced. Then Riyad Mahrez diverted over an open goal after City recycled and probed again. Beautiful game? It was becoming more pantomime than Broadway – the natives were again restless.
The madness continued. Oleksandr Zinchenko checked Harry Winks as the Spurs man raced forward – whistler Dean was quick to brandish a second yellow card for the City man.
Then a moment of magic from the Dutch debutant. The first touch exquisite – the finished explosive – Ederson had no chance – Bergwijn was up and running.
Spurs – a goal to the good and facing ten men – were now very much in the ascendancy. Tanguy Ndombele picked out Son – the South Korean, in turn, sweeping past Ederson, aided by a deflection off Fernandinho, to double the Lilywhites advantage.
Lloris was called upon in the final stages – brilliantly thwarting De Bruyne, while Davinson Sanchez diverted against the frame of his own goal. City had topped the stats but ultimately lacked penetration where it mattered.
In a weekend which saw several Tottenham’s rivals for a top-four four finish drop points, this could prove to be a significant victory for Mourinho’s men.
Tottenham Hotspur now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup, facing Southampton in a fourth-round replay on Wednesday, February 5 (7:45pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Serge Aurie, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sánchez, Japhet Tanganga, Harry Winks, Giovani Lo Celso, Steven Bergwijn (Erik Lamela 70’), Dele Alli (Tanguy Ndombele 70’) Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura (Eric Dier 84’) Subs not used: Jan Vertonghen, Ryan Sessegnon, Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Gedson Fernandes
Booked: Toby Alderweireld (dissent), Giovani Lo Celso (foul)
Goals: Steven Bergwijn 63’, Heung-Min Son 71’
Manchester City: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, Nicolas Otamendi, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Kevin De Bruyne, Rodrigo, Ilkay Gündogan, Riyad Mahrez (Gabriel Jesus 72’), Sergio Agüero (Joan Cancelo 64’), Raheem Sterling (Bernardo Silva 83’) Subs not used: Claudio Bravo (GK), David Silva, Phil Foden, Eric García
Booked: Raheem Sterling (foul), Kyle Walker (foul), Oleksandr Zinchenko (foul), Rodrigo (foul)
Sent-Off: Oleksandr Zinchenko (second booking)
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Ian Hussin and Dan Robathan
Fourth Official: Graham Scott
Reaction to follow…