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Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham: VAR saves, Jesus doesn’t as Spurs earn point at the Etihad


Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

We’ll get to the actual match recap here in a second, but first:

You can’t make this up. For the second time in as many games, Tottenham Hotspur were the beneficiaries of a controversial VAR decision that called back a winning goal from Manchester City. Gabriel Jesus thought he surely had won the game in the 92nd minute after firing home on a corner kick, but match official Michael Oliver waved the goal away after VAR had found Aymeric Laporte had handled the ball in the box.

That decision gave Spurs what could be a HUGE point down the stretch, as they draw the defending champions 2-2 on the road. Spurs got goals from Erik Lamela and substitute Lucas Moura.

Mauricio Pochettino opted to not make many surprises or changes from the lineup that started against Aston Villa in week 1. The biggest change was the inclusion of Christian Eriksen in place of Lucas Moura, who started on the bench. Otherwise, all else was the same, including Jan Vertonghen out of the starting XI. He was, however, at least on the bench this time. Hugo Lloris made his 300th appearance for Spurs behind Kyle Walker-Peters, Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld, and Danny Rose.

Spurs played 5 midfielders that featured Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Tanguy Ndombele, Eriksen, and Erik Lamela working behind Harry Kane at the tip of the spear. Spurs’ opening lineup operated more like a 4-4-2 than the diamond or a 4-2-3-1 that we’re used to seeing.

First Half

KICK OFF! — Spurs open in what looks like a fluid 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 hybrid fluid midfield, as though they’re trying to disrupt City from moving through the center of the pitch. Early reports are that it’s not working according to plan.

5’ — Spurs finding it difficult in the early going. Can’t keep the ball, City’s pressure really doing a number on them. Feels like an early goal is coming.

7’ — First chance for City. Kyle Walker takes advantage of a flat-footed Davinson Sanchez and fires a ball centrally that Sterling has blocked over the bar.

14’ — City running rampant here. They are playing a full throttle press, and Spurs are laying off of them and trying to absorb pressure instead of counterpressing them. Kind of a miracle City haven’t scored yet.

20’ — Goal City. It’s been coming for a while now. Kevin De Bruyne with a pinpoint cross from the right finds the head of Raheem Sterling, and he made no doubt of it. Walker-Peters lost Sterling, which is a shame because he’s been wearing Sterling like a shirt up to that point and playing very well. 1-0 to City.

24’ — GOAL TOTTENHAM! LAMELAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!! A goal out of nowhere! Ndombele feeds Lamela at the top of the D and he places it beautifully past Ederson! Spurs are level!

26’ — First yellow of the match on Raheem Sterling for a tactical foul on a Spurs break. Well deserved.

33’ — Things have settled down some but City still dominating possession and Spurs are letting them have it. Something will need to change at halftime.

35’ — Goal City. It’s De Bruyne again with another incredible pass. He gets behind Spurs’ back line and puts in a very nice pass to the near post. Aguero just taps the ball with his foot and it’s past Lloris. 2-1 City.

37’ — Danny Rose is down on the pitch after getting crunched on a play. City play on and De Bruyne puts a ball out over the bar. Looks like Danny’s okay, though.

42’ — Nearly three for City. De Bruyne with yet another cross into the box, but Gundogan’s shot went just wide of the post. Lucky.

HALFTIME — Despite the nice goal from Lamela, it’s been a very frustrating half from Spurs. No press, can’t string passes together, very little attacking nous. Something’s gotta change, either in tactics or personnel.

Second Half

No changes for Spurs at halftime, but they did come out from the locker room two minutes late. Hopefully that means the hairdryer was on.

48’ — Another stinger of a shot from City, this time a deflected ball from Zinchenko, forcing Hugo down low to save with his palm.

53’ — Shot after shot after shot from City. Spurs haven’t changed their tactics and they continue to get pressed out of existence by the defending champions.

55’ — GOAL TOTTENHAM! Lucas comes on as a substitute for Harry Winks AND IMMEDIATELY SCORES OFF A CORNER KICK!!! He leaped over everyone and headed it past Ederson. GAME ON, IT’S 2-2!

58’ — LOL, Harry Kane tried to recreate his goal from the halfway line in preseason in this match. Tries a pop from 70 yards out, and it’s nowhere close.

61’ — Two HUGE stops for Spurs defensively. Hugo makes a fantastic reaction save from yet another City stop, and then Danny Rose clears the ball off the line and into Lloris’ hands on the ensuing play. Scary... but Spurs escape by the skin of their teeth.

65’ — First substitution for City, as Gabriel Jesus comes on for Sergio Aguero.

73’ — Hugo has been IMMENSE for Spurs today, coming off his line and getting clattered in the process, but stopping or parrying away a number of quality City chances.

77’ — CLOSE! Lucas gets a half step on Otamendi and fires a ball across goal towards Harry Kane at the back post. City are able to hack it away for a corner.

78’ — City make their second substitution as David Silva comes on for Rodri. It’s so frustrating how they can bring someone like Silva in off the bench and just not miss a beat.

79’ — City make their final sub, bringing on Riyad Mahrez for Bernardo Silva.

83’ — Problem for City as Zinchenko is down and receiving treatment. Unfortunately, Pep Guardiola is out of subs... and he’s off the pitch, it’s 11 v. 10.

85’ — ** Giovani Lo Celso has entered the chat ** (Erik Lamela makes way)

90’ — Spurs’ final substitution — Oliver Skipp comes on for Eriksen. 4 minutes of extra time!

92’ — Goal City. UGH. Heartbreak for Spurs as Gabriel Jesus scores off the corner. Can’t say they didn’t deserve it, though.

... BUT WAIT! MICHAEL OLIVER CALLS IT BACK after VAR finds a handball against City’s Aymeric Laporte in the box! It’s happened again! It’s 2-2!

FULL TIME! Tottenham Hotspur escape by the skin of their teeth and with a point on the road against the two-time defending champions! Final score — 2-2!!


  • This is what you’re going to get with VAR — it is there to enforce the laws of the game, and that VAR decision was the right call by the letter of the law. Don’t like it? Change the handball rules.
  • But let’s not get up too high on our horses. Tottenham absolutely, 100% stole that point, as they football’d City to death. City led Spurs something like 30-3 in shots in this match and dominated almost start to finish. However, Spurs took advantage of the few chances they had.
  • Kyle Walker-Peters’ job was to contain Raheem Sterling. That’s a huge job for even the most experienced of Premier League fullbacks, and he did about as good of a job as you can do under these circumstances. Had some scary moments and was out of his depth, but you can understand now why Pochettino seems ready to take a chance on him.
  • The announcing team said that Lucas’ goal was the fastest substitute goal in the Premier League since Sammy Ameobe in 2014 (against Spurs). Talk about instant impact!
  • Hugely frustrated with Pochettino’s tactics in this match. Spurs were sitting deep in two banks of four, weren’t pressing, and couldn’t string together two passes for much of the match. By all rights they should’ve been blown off the pitch today. Case in point:
  • Harry Kane was invisible, mostly because Spurs couldn’t get him the damn ball. Their only outlet for much of the match was Moussa Sissoko, who would promptly give away the ball or pass to a City player as soon as he got into a decent position.
  • However, Spurs defended heroically, and Hugo Lloris was masterful between the sticks. He saved Spurs’ asses a number of times today.
  • Christian Eriksen was absolutely trash today.
  • So was Erik Lamela, apart from that goal.
  • This was a terrible Tottenham performance and I hated watching it. Even so, I’m going to enjoy this RESULT for a long time.
  • Full (and belated) credit to Skipjack for the headline to this article.