Phil Foden's fifth-minute header was enough to see off Spurs in an exhausting battle at the Etihad. The Blues had to grind out the victory against a Tottenham team who were a threat throughout, but thanks to some excellent defending, the early goal proved enough. It was City's tenth Premier League win in a row.
What happened? At a sun-drenched and colourful Etihad, City began looking for an early lift to quickly banish Wednesday’s crushing disappointment. But it was Spurs who came close to opening the score after just three minutes as the dangerous Son Heung-Min found space on the left before dropping a shoulder and firing a powerful drive that Ederson beat away. City, however, drew first blood just two minutes later. The effervescent Bernardo Silva cut inside a couple of challenges before spotting Sergio Aguero’s clever movement, crossing the ball to the Argentine who headed across the six-yard box for Foden to nod home his first Premier League goal. It was exactly the start had City needed in what was already proving to be another bright, open game. Yet Spurs again came close on 14 minutes when Christian Eriksen was played through and Ederson again did well to deny the visitors. And the Blues were fortunate on 17 minutes as the pacey Son broke through and was just about to pull the trigger when Aymeric Laporte denied him with a superbly-timed sliding tackle. If there was any fatigue in the legs of the City players, it wasn’t showing and Bernardo’s twinkle-toed run into the box should have earned a penalty on 20 when a clumsy Jan Vertonghen challenge brought down the Portuguese in the box – but referee Michael Oliver wasn’t interested – where’s VAR when you need it? The Blues were dealt a huge blow just before the break when Kevin De Bruyne was taken off after looking as though he jarred his knee taking a shot – hopefully the injury isn’t anything too worrying. On half-time Son span away from a number of challenges before running 30 yards and again seeing his effort saved by Ederson. More hard work, it seemed, lay ahead in the second-half. The pattern of play continued with Lucas Moura driving through the middle within the first 30 seconds of the re-start, but the danger was snuffed out by the City defence. There was yet another controversial decision that didn’t go the Blues’ way on 51 minutes when Aguero’s shot hit one arm, then the other of grounded Toby Alderweireld in the six-yard box, but again the referee thought otherwise. In the baking sun, the game ebbed and flowed, with the Blues still wary over Spurs' tactic of playing the long-ball over the top to Son and the home defence had to be resolute and focused throughout. But as the clock ticked down, so the nerves of the City fans were understandably frayed. But the Blues dug deep and despite the tension in the dying moments, clung on for three crucial points to end an emotionally draining win in style. What it means… City go back to the top of the Premier League, a point clear of Liverpool who play Cardiff City tomorrow.
Star man: Bernardo On the day it was announced he was on the PFA Player of the Year shortlist, City's brilliant playmaker shone again from start to finish. Honourable mentions for Ederson, Laporte and Kyle Walker who were all solid and impressive throughout.
What’s next? City make the short journey to Old Trafford to face Manchester United next Wednesday, 8pm kick-off. Then, another short trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley a week on Sunday, kick-off 2.05pm.
Manchester City (1): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gündogan, Foden (David Silva, 84’), De Bruyne (Fernandinho, 37’); Bernardo Silva, Sterling, Agüero (Sané, 65’)
Tottenham (0): Gazzaniga; Foyth, Vertonghen, Davinson Sánchez, Alderweireld (Llorente, 78’), Davies; Dier (Wanyama, 61’), Dele Alli (Rose, 69’); Eriksen, Son, Lucas Moura
Goal: 1-0, Foden (4’)
Referee: Michael Oliver. Bookings: Wanyama (86’), Sterling (92’)