Phil Foden scored the only goal of the contest as Manchester City earned a huge win over a spirited Tottenham to return to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday.
This fixture didn’t have the bells and whistles of Wednesday’s Champions League encounter but it was City who came out on top, homegrown hero Foden bagging the crucial effort, with his first ever Premier League goal.
It didn’t take long for City to find the breakthrough, Sergio Aguero unselfishly cutting back across the box for Foden to give his side the lead with less than five minutes on the clock.
Kyle Walker looked to have handled the ball when dealing with Dele Alli around the hour mark, but there was no VAR to come to Tottenham’s aid this time and Michael Oliver waved away a clear penalty.
That could have been so significant for Spurs, who just couldn’t create anything of note from open play as they slumped to another damaging away defeat despite piling on the pressure late on.
Key Talking Point
This game couldn’t have been more delightfully poised after Tottenham eliminated City from the Champions League in midweek. There are not many questions over Pep Guardiola’s side but one that remains is how they deal with pressure.
The Citizens failed to reach the Champions League semi finals for the third year running under Guardiola. And, after cruising to the league last season, it remains to be seen if they can stave off a persistent Liverpool challenge.
Both sides looked fatigued following the gruelling midweek match and it made the game an increasingly fractious affair. City afforded themselves the privilege with the early goal though, while their opposition remained frustrated with the conditions.
Neutrals might have wanted their money back after the misleading advertisement of a classic but City won’t mind too much as they successfully navigated a potential pitfall on route to defending their league title.
Starting XI: Ederson (8)*; Walker (6), Stones (7), Laporte (7), Zinchenko (6); De Bruyne (7), Gundogan (6), Foden (8); Silva (8), Aguero (8), Sterling (6).
Substitutes: Fernandinho (6), Sane (6).
STAR MAN – City’s emerging star Phil Foden will steal the headlines but it’s shot-stopper Ederson Moraes who really made the difference in a fatigue-riddled encounter.
The bane of that midweek defeat, Son Heung-min, proved a menace again, surging clear of the centre backs on several occasions.
Ederson is a god atm
— Nichlas Frederiksen (@NichlasGaming) April 20, 2019
But the Brazilian was quick to close the angle every time, making it incredibly difficult for the Tottenham forward to profit. After being beaten twice by the South Korean midweek, Ederson had a good reading on his threat and it meant a solitary goal was enough to seal a crucial win.
Key Talking Point
City had the benefit of a fitter squad after the sensational midweek clash between these sides. Mauricio Pochettino had five key players missing from the side that triumphed in midweek, with Vincent Janssen even appearing on the bench.
It resulted in a Spurs side that was noticeably second best, with heads dropping and arms waving as early as midway through the first half. Other than a few breakaway chances, Tottenham really struggled to build anything and became bogged down in their own half.
The home side became a little more cagey as the game went on but Tottenham couldn’t take advantage.
It was an understandably subdued performance but it once again puts Spurs’ Champions League place at risk. They have an excellent opportunity to reach the final of this year’s competition now but they have to get the job done in the Premier League as well.
Starting XI: Gazzaniga (7); Foyth (7), Vertonghen (5), Sanchez (6), Alderweireld (5), Davies (6); Alli (7), Dier (6), Eriksen (7); Lucas Moura (7), Son (8)*.
Substitutes: Wanyama (6), Rose (6), Llorente (6).
STAR MAN – Barring some fancy footwork from Dele Alli and one killer pass from Christian Eriksen, there was little to shout about from the Tottenham camp. Their best avenue of attack came from launching the ball forward for Son to run on to.
With little in the way of support, Son made excellent work of his forays forwards outmuscling both centre backs and exhibiting the pace to break away.
He was thwarted by City’s own star man Ederson at every opportunity, but if anyone was going to win it for Spurs it would have been Son.
City face the last of their major challenges en route to the title with rivals Manchester United up next, before another away trip to face Burnley.
Tottenham have consecutive home fixtures against relegation-threatened Brighton and Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham to look forward to.