Tottenham knew they had to keep up with Chelsea and Arsenal in the race for the Champions League places. Meanwhile, Manchester City had to stop Manchester United from claiming their 20th Premier League title (for another week at least).
The Spurs mood would have been lifted with the news that Gareth Bale was fit to return to the starting line up. City were without the injured David Silva, and started with Sergio Aguero on the bench.
Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Mancini fielded the following starting players:
Tottenham Starting XI
Lloris | Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto | Sigurdsson, Dembele, Parker, Bale | Dempsey, Adebayor
Manchester City Starting XI
Hart | Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy | Toure, Barry | Milner, Tevez, Nasri | Dzeko.
Tottenham, believe it or not, actually started the first half brightest; and were creating chances. None of them were too much trouble for Joe Hart though. Gareth Bale had a shot from around 25-yards, but was comfortably saved by Hart.
Then, on the 5th minute, after some good work on the right from Tevez, he played a brilliant ball inside to Milner. Milner then found Samir Nasri unmarked in the area and he slotted home to put City ahead, getting his 2nd league goal of the season.
From then on, there was more-or-less an onslaught of City attacks throughout the half. Spurs struggled to get near the ball and City players were finding space in the pockets and down the wings. Samir Nasri had another chance to probably kill off any chance for Spurs after he was played in by Tevez; he wasn’t able to add to his tally though, as the onrushing Hugo Lloris just did enough to put the Frenchman off as he poked the ball wide.
Edin Dzeko also had a chance for City; he was clean through on goal, but shot went straight at Hugo Lloris, who kept himself big and made Dzeko’s target smaller. Spurs didn’t really have many notable chances in that half, and you could say it was a real missed opportunity for City, who were in complete control of the game.
The main thing to point out in that first half was that Gareth Bale was unable to get in the game. He was very ineffective, probably due to him only having 2 days of training and only just returning from injury.
The second half kicked off and City were playing in a similar vein top the first. They were in complete control. But then came 3 substitutions by AVB, and that turned the game completely on its head. Tom Huddlestone, Lewis Holtby, and Jermain Defoe all came on to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson, Scott Parker, and Emmanuel Adebayor, who not for the first time in a Spurs shirt was very ineffective and failed to make an impact on the game.
Tottenham were seeing much more of the ball; and were creating more chances. They looked at totally different outfit to what was playing in the first half. City were then struggling to cope with the movement of Defoe, and Gareth Bale was coming into the game more and more.
Then came the Spurs equalizer on the 75th minute. It wouldn’t really be a Tottenham goal if Gareth Bale wasn’t involved. He was given the ball by Kyle Walker on the right on the 18-yard area, in acres of space. He played a wonderful ball across the 6-yard line and found Clint Dempsey at the far post to slot home.
Tottenham were then in the ascendancy and turning rampant. Just 4 minutes later, a great pass from Lewis Holtby found Jermain Defoe on the left, who cut inside onto his right foot and found the far corner of Joe Hart’s goal to give the home side the lead. 3 minutes later, and all 3 points were secured by none other than Gareth Bale. After being played in by Huddlestone, he took the ball quickly in his stride and chipped the ball over an onrushing Joe Hart into an empty net.
After a resounding victory over the current Champions, Spurs will have an abundance of confidence going into the final 5 games of the season. They will be confident of a top 4 finish and Champions League football next season; but City will know that it’s just a matter of time until United get the title back.
But City will be most likely to finish 2nd in the league and also have an FA Cup final against Wigan next month, so not really a bad season domestically for City.
Final Score: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester City
Nasri 5′ | Dempsey 75′, Defoe 79′, Bale 82′
Written by Lauren Jenks (@lauren_jenks96)