City are just one win away from being crowned Premier League champions. The Blues produced another attacking masterclass befitting of the national stadium as Spurs were swept aside 3-1 with much of the hard work done in a devastating first half-hour when some of the football was simply mesmeric. So much for the so-called mini-crisis!
What happened If City were hurting from the defeats to United and Liverpool, it didn’t show in the opening moments of this game at Wembley. Spurs were left chasing shadows as the Blues knocked the ball around purposefully and with speed and after just four minutes, the visitors’ superiority was so nearly rewarded as Leroy Sane’s sumptuous volley smacked against the inside of the post from Raheem Sterling’s cross. City went close again when Kevin De Bruyne sent a rocket shot wide from the edge of the box and the only surprise was Tottenham survived until the 22nd minute when, at last, the Blues went ahead. For a side whose reputation is to play through or around the opposition defence, this was devastatingly simply as Vincent Kompany bided his time before launching an inch-perfect 60-yard ball into the path of Gabriel Jesus who raced clear before planting a low shot past Hugo Lloris. Three minutes later, the Blues doubled the lead. City won possession on the halfway line and broke forward with the Spurs defence wide open and as the ball was fed to Sterling, Lloris came hurtling out of his goal with s studs-high challenge that cleaned Sterling out. Though the actual contact came outside the box, the referee pointed to the spot with Lloris lucky to stay on the pitch. Ilkay Gundogan made no mistake, sending Lloris the wrong way to increase City’s lead. The Blues went looking for the third goal that would surely end the contest and the superb David Silva saw a low drive beaten away, but despite one or two half-chances, Spurs hung on. Again, a Tottenham player was fortunate not see red when Ben Davies’ nasty challenge on Kompany went unpunished, much to the skipper’s understandable chagrin. As the half wore down, Spurs slightly improved and pulled a fortuitous goal back three minutes before the break when Aymeric Laporte’s attempted clearance cannoned off the shins of Christian Eriksen and into the corner of the net. It was scarcely deserved and given the fact the Blues had led at half-time and ended up losing the last two games, the game suddenly had a different complexion – plus, given their first half efforts, Tottenham could surely only get better. And indeed, it was a much more even contest after the resumption. Yet City had three good chances to restore their two goal lead, the two of those fell to Jesus who was twice put through but on each occasion got the ball caught up in his feet and the chances went begging. Then David Silva got in behind the defence and picked out Sterling whose shot was easily saved by Lloris. The Blues were finding their second wind but again, a great opportunity wasn’t taken as Kyle Walker’s low cross was palmed out by Lloris to Sterling who skipped around the keeper but hesitated before seeing his shot cleared by one of the three defenders on the line. Then, finally, Spurs’ luck ran out as Jesus fired a low shot in and though an initially unsighted Lloris kept the ball out, Sterling was on hand to hammer the ball into the roof of the net from four yards. Though there were half chances at either end in the time that remained, that was just about that, with the three points thoroughly deserved from a group of players who play beautiful football no matter what.
Key moment: Jonathan Moss’s decision to award the penalty that put City in control may have been incorrect, but given our luck in recent weeks, it was gratefully received – even if Lloris was perhaps lucky to stay on the pitch.
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What it means… City are now just one win away from the Premier League title, though if Manchester United drop points against West Brom or Bournemouth in-between, the Blues will be crowned champions without even playing.
What’s next? City host Swansea City a week on Sunday (kick-off 4.30pm) in what could potentially be a title party at the Etihad.
Tottenham (1): Lloris; Trippier, Sánchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembélé (Lucas, 72’); Eriksen, Alli (Sissoko, 84’), Lamela (Son, 64’); Kane
Manchester City (3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Delph; Gündogan, De Bruyne (Yaya Touré, 89’), Silva; Sterling, Sané (Otamendi, 64’), Gabriel Jesus (Bernardo, 75’)
Goals: 0-1, Gabriel Jesus (21’), 0-2, Gündogan (24’), 1-2, Eriksen (42’), 1-3, Sterling (72’)
Referee: Jonathan Moss. Bookings: Lloris (23’), Davies (27’), De Bruyne (41’), Gabriel Jesus (45’), Kompany (65’), Dembélé (69’), Delph (76’)