As expected, this match popped off quickly. City had a couple of chances to start the match that Spurs snuffed out pretty easily. After a quick restart, Tanguy Ndombele played a gorgeous ball over the top to find Heung-Min Son who left the back line for dead. A simple low shot later, Spurs were up 1-0 just like that.
City came back a couple of minutes later and nearly took advantage of a breakdown in the Spurs defense. A late but clean tackle by Toby Alderweireld let the ball fall to Kevin De Bruyne, but his low shot hit Gabriel Jesus who was laying in an offside position to kill the threat. Brilliant defending and a bit of luck kept the match level.
Spurs recovered and hit on their powerful counter-attack as Steven Bergwijn received a cross-pitch pass and found Sonny on the opposite flank. One touch and a pass later, Kane was alone and put the ball into the net, only to be flagged for offside. Somehow, this match was only 13 minutes old and it felt like an entire half had been played.
After several exchanges back and forth, City seemed to break through as Gabriel Jesus gathered a ball and passed it to Aymeric Laporte, who buried the ball for the equalizer....or so we thought. VAR came into play yet again in a Spurs-City match as Mike Dean went to the monitor to check it. VAR indeed confirmed that Jesus had indeed handled the bar with his upper arm, nullifying the goal. You just love to see it.
With the match approaching halftime, City had the bulk of the possession but couldn’t unlock the Spurs defense, even though they came close on a couple of opportunities. Spurs were happy to sit back and wait for chances on the counter, so long as the scoreline held. It did just that going into the break.
There were no changes for either side to start the second half, though multiple players on both benches were warming up within a couple of minutes. The half started much like the first one ended as City attempted to crack the code but Spurs defended exceptionally well and broke on the counter a couple of times with no real end product through sixty minutes.
Mourinho made his first sub of the match at the 65th minute mark as Giovani Lo Celso checked in for Tanguy Ndombele, who put in one hell of a shift. The move paid immediate dividends as Spurs cracked City’s possession with a Toby interception and pass. Kane received the ball in midfield and carried it twenty yards before feeding Gio on the left flank. The Argentine kept his cool and slotted it five-hole past Ederson to give Spurs a two goal lead with 25 minutes to play.
City made their expected changes after going down two goals, bringing on both Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden with one sub to burn left. Mourinho countered by bringing Lucas Moura into the fold for Steven Bergwijn. Unfortunately, Spurs were forced to use their final sub not long after as Alderweireld went down with a non-contact injury to his right leg. While he walked off on his own power, we’ll all hold our breath to hear how bad it is. Joe Rodon was forced into action with ten minutes to go.
Spurs’ gamemanship was excellent down the stretch, finding ways to kill long stretches by earning fouls and taking the ball into the corner. City had a big chance to pull one back in the early stages of stoppage time with a free kick about 25 yards out. The ball into the penalty area was good enough to find the head of Ruben Dias but Hugo Lloris made a point-blank save to keep his clean sheet. Dean brought the match to the end not long after to send Spurs top of the table.
Thoughts on the Match
- Absolute masterclass tactically by Spurs. They conceded possession 67/33 but stifled City when it mattered the most. Mourinho has to be smiling ear to ear in the dressing room.
- Kane might have won Man of the Match, but the defense was brilliant today. Special shout to both Sergio Reguilon and Serge Aurier, who put in stellar shifts.
- While we all want to see Ndombele and Lo Celso on the pitch together, it seems Mourinho has them figured out in these substitutions. Both were great today.
- We are all holding our breath on Toby Alderweireld’s injury. Rodon is about to be baptized by fire but hopefully this isn’t a catastrophic injury because Toby’s passing today was just as good as his defending.
- Spurs are top of the table and will be at the end of the day. Whether that holds up for the matchweek will be decided tomorrow.
- I honestly can’t think of a player who played badly today.
- Europa is back on tap for Spurs with Ludogorets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Thursday night.