BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 21ST APRIL, 2013
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3 (0) MANCHESTER CITY 1 (1)
Man City scorer:-
Referee:- Mr. Lee Mason
Assistants:- Mr. S. Bennett & Mr. L. Betts
Fourth official:- Mr. Lee Probert
Spurs (4-4-1-1):- Lloris; Walker, Dawson (Capt.), Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Dempsey, Parker (sub Huddlestone,61), Dembele, Sigurdsson(sub Holtby, 60); Bale; Adebayor (sub Defoe, 71)
Subs not used:- Friedel; Naughton, Caulker; Livermore
Booked:- Dawson (foul on Dzeko), Assou-Ekotto (foul on Zabaletta), Huddlestone (foul on Toure)
Man City:- (4-4-2):- Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (Capt.), Nastasic, Clichy (sub Lescott, 90); Milner(sub Kolarov, 46), Yaya Toure, Barry, Nasri; Dzeko (sub Sinclair, 83), Tevez
Subs not used:- Pantilimon; K. Toure; Garcia; Aguero
Booked:- Yaya Toure (dissent), Kolarov, Hart (dissent)
Fantastic turnaround by Spurs!
A simply brilliant spell of seven second half minutes gave Spurs three goals and a fantastic turnaround against a Manchester City side which had really been in total control of the game, and held a one goal lead until the 75th minute.
Goals by Dempsey, substitute Jermain Defoe, and a sublime goal scored by Bale, created by another substitute - Tom Huddlestone, gave Spurs a bonus victory, which keeps them in the running for a Champions League place. We are still in fifth place, two points behind Arsenal, with a game in hand, and one point behind Chelsea, who drew at Anfield today, and against whom we play that game in hand. It's still a tough task of course, but at least we have given ourselves a chance with today's result.
Gareth Bale made a welcome return to the starting line-up, but Jermain Defoe had to be content with a place on the bench, whilst Aaron Lennon is still not fit to play.
City were missing Aguero (on the bench, and not risked), and Silva, whilst another recent injury doubt and former gooner, Nasri, did start, on the left of the City midfield.
Spring has finally arrived in the United Kingdom, and the sun shone down on an enthusiastic full house, including a full quota of travelling fans. Spurs actually made a bright start, playing towards the Park Lane End, with a good early pass by Scott Parker leading to a Walker cross from the right. Gareth Bale, playing centrally behind Adebayor, had a chance after three minutes, but hit his shot straight at Joe Hart.
Bale then fed the ball to Dempsey from the inside-right position.
Dempsey crossed to the near post, where Hart got the better of Adebayor, attempting to meet the ball.
Then came a killer opening goal from City, wearing an all burgundy coloured strip. Tevez fed the ball to Milner, and in doing so, cut out three Spurs players from the move (Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto and Scott Parker). Milner cut the ball back from the bye-line for Nasri to have an easy finish at the back post.
Spurs lost their confidence after hat setback, failing to take the initiative to the extent they had shown before the goal. City always seemed to have plenty of men wherever the ball was played, as is the case with all top class teams. Spurs became a little tentative, to say the least, in their approach, giving too much time to the City defence to take their positions.
Referee Lee Mason soon became the butt of abuse for the home crowd. He got his yellow card out from a very early stage, booking Yaya Toure after awarding a foul by him against Scott Parker. Toure kicked the ball away, and I think he was booked for dissent.
Jan Vertonghen had to go off for a shirt change (number 49), due to a blood injury, and Michael Dawson also saw yellow for an early challenge that other referees might have let pass.
After a Spurs throw on the left after 21 minutes, the ball was worked over to the right where Dempsey sent Walker clear with a clever ball inside Clichy. Kyle Walker crossed hard to the near post, but Hart was on hand to intercept and concede a corner.
Scott Parker performed a trademark pirouette, before hitting a good ball over the defence for Dempsey, but it was Hart's ball. At the other end, a shot by Dzeko took a deflection, looping just outside Lloris's left post for a City corner. Not long after that, Nasri really should have scored, when he was put clear in the Spurs box, but he managed to push his shot wide.
Spurs had a shout for handball in the City area, but Mr. Mason is not a "homer". A Gareth Bale free kick seemed to hit a City hand, but this appeal also fell upon deaf ears.
Before half-time, Dzeko had a half chance, when Vertonghen tried and failed to close him down. Dzeko got his shot in, but Lloris was down for it, and held. City won three consecutive corners, with Gareth Barry happy to take all the time in the world to send them in. From the third corner, Nastasic got the better of Dawson, and headed inside for Tevez, who tried from close range, but saw a good save by Lloris.
Dempsey headed wide from a Spurs corner, and Kyle Walker had a cross which gave a Spurs a half chance inside the City area.
Mancini replaced Milner with Kolarov at half-time. Kolarov started on the left of midfield, with Nasri moving to the right. Assou-Ekotto took a yellow for a low two-footed challenge from behind.
The game took a while to warm up. After 58 minutes, Scott Parker was fouled just outside the area. Yaya Toure delayed the kick without punishment, and Bale fired over.
Just as we were all saying how Bale ought to be playing on the left, AVB made two key substitutions in quick succession. Holtby replaced the largely ineffective Sigurdsson, whilst Tom Huddlestone took he place of Parker, and played behind Dembele. Holtby took up station on the left and Bale emerged on the right.
Tevez had a shot after a pass inside by Kolarov, and Huddlestone saw yellow for a foul on Yaya Toure who writhed sufficiently to attract the attention of the ever-sympathetic Mr. Mason.
Dempsey went down in the box, and the crowd bayed in vain for a penalty. After a cross from the left, Bale headed well over the target.
Spurs' final change was made with 20 minutes to go, with Defoe replacing Adebayor. On this occasion, the crowd's unmitigated joy was to be satisfied. Defoe was soon involved after good play by Dembele, who ran with the ball and fed Defoe, who, in turn, put Dempsey through. Clint went down under Hart's challenge, but the appeal for a penalty came more from the crowd than the players.
The real drama started in the 75th minute, when Kyle Walker passed to Bale, who got inside the box, and sent a powerful low ball to the back post, where Dempsey gleefully fired home from close range.
Joe Hart was shown a yellow card, which I believe was for dissent, (kicking the ball at the crowd) although he was also getting involved with the crowd behind the goal by this time. Hart, like any keeper with a lead, had been killing as much time as he could up to that point in the game. Later, after Spurs' second goal, Hart ran to the centre circle to present the referee with what presumably was some sort of missile (maybe a coin) thrown in his direction.
Spurs were now playing with confidence, and taking the game to City, with Huddlestone pinging passes accurately as we know he can. Spurs took the lead in the 79th minute after more good work by Dembele, who fed Holtby in the middle. Lewis sent a great pass towards the left to Defoe, who forged himself an opening and beat Hart with a lovely shot just inside the keeper's left post.
Three minutes later and it was game over and won for Spurs with a goal that was sublime in its creation and execution. Huddlestone found just the right strength and direction to beat the defence, enabling Bale to get goal-side and then beat Hart with a beautiful deft finish over the keeper.
City had a free kick in the late stages. Toure shaped up to take it, but Kolarov fired over. In added time Mancini replaced Clichy with Lescott, and actually played the England centre-back up front. Even a club so rich in resources as Manchester City have to improvise sometimes.
After the game, Mancini said that the title race had effectively been over for a while, but stated he was determined to finish second, and felt that City were the better team today. He was right really, but Andre Villas-Boas came up with substitutions and a strategy that gave Spurs that dramatic come-back.
White Hart Lane was rocking for what was arguably the biggest home win of the season (even taking Arsenal into account). Both the fans, and more importantly, the team can go forward with great hope and more confidence.
Bring on Wigan next Saturday! I'd be inclined to start with the team that finished the job today.
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