SATURDAY 21ST NOVEMBER, 2020
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2(1) MANCHESTER CITY 0(0)
Lo Celso, 65
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- Darren Cann, Dan Robathan
Fourth official:- Andy Madley
VAR:- Kevin Friend
Assistant VAR:- Adrian Holmes.
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld (sub Rodon, 81), Dier, Reguilon; Sissoko, Hojbjerg; Son, Ndombele (sub Lo Celso, 65), Bergwijn (sub Lucas Moura, 73); Kane
Subs not used- Hart; Davies; Bale; Vinicius
Booked:- Sissoko (dissent), Kane (foul on Dias)
Man City (4-3-3):- Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; De Bruyne (Capt.), Rodri, Bernardo Silva (sub Foden, 72); Mahrez (sub Sterling, 72), Jesus, Torres
Subs not used:- Steffen; Stones, Garcia; Gundogan; Aguero
Booked:- Dias (foul on Kane), Torres (foul on Lo Celso)
To a man, Spurs played with the hearts of lions.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side has now played three times at our new stadium. They have lost all three games, and have failed to score in each game. Heung-min Son has scored in each of those games. In the first of the three games, Harry Kane went off injured before “Sonny” scored our winner. That was the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final. Last season, Kane was absent altogether and Spurs won 2-0 with a debut goal by Steven Bergwijn and Son. Spurs won 2-0 again tonight, with “Sonny” giving us a fifth minute lead. Harry Kane was integral to the goal, but does not score an assist, which came from Tanguy Ndombele. Kane does get the assist for laying on our second goal, scored by Giovani Lo Celso within a minute of him replacing Ndombele.
Kane’s performance was described as a masterclass by both Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp, but the whole Spurs team played with the hearts of lions and tonight we sit at the top of the Premier League after 9 games.
Of course massive credit has to be given to Jose Mourinho and his team of coaches, who spent the International break planning their strategy for this game, and then had very little time in the last couple of days to brief their returning Internationals. He knew he would ne without Matt Doherty who is self-isolating after a positive Covid-19 test, but then he might have chosen Serge Aurier anyway. Aurier arguably had his best game as a defender with Spurs with plenty of vital interceptions, blocks or shepherding the ball out of play. When getting forward, Aurier displayed confident skills on the right flank. With plenty of players at his disposal, Mourinho chose Bergwijn to play on the left of a midfield three who were behind Kane. “Sonny” was on the right. Ndombele was in the middle. That front four was very fluid and when Spurs did get forward any one of them might have been the most advanced player. They all played important defensive roles too. Not least Kane, who was just one of many players to make a vital block inside the Spurs area.
Pep Guardiola went with a 4-3-3, leaving Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero on the bench. Jose had plenty of talent at his disposal on the bench too.
The game was preceded by tributes to former goalkeeper Ray Clemence, whose passing was announced last week. The Spurs players wore shirts supporting Ray and the Prostate Cancer charity. They wore black armbands throughout the game. Spurs kicked off and played towards the North Stand. Within a minute 20-year-old winger Ferran Torres (signed in the summer from Valencia) worked his way in from the left flak, but hit his shot straight at Lloris from 22 yards out. Torres and Bernardo Silva threatened when they got inside the Spurs area on the left, but they did not manage a shot.
THFC would not allow me the fly the Spurs Odyssey flag in the stadium for these behind closed doors games but it will feature in my match report!
Spurs had a dream start with a goal inside five minutes. Harry Kane made a run which drew attention away from Son on his right. Son left Cancelo behind as Ndombele lifted a beautiful a ball over the defence from just inside the City half. Son raced onto the ball and slipped his left footed shot underneath Ederson’s dive.
Spurs were then pushed back by what was effectively a front six, and even seven or eight at times. The stats will tell you we had 34% possession, 4 shots against City’s 22. Two of our shots were on target. City had five on target, but they committed more fouls. De Bruyne lifted a ball over the goal after coming off better in a battle with Reguilon. A shot by Jesus was blocked and de Bruyne’s shot was actually blocked by his own player – Jesus – who would have to be adjudged offside had the ball reached the net. There was a VAR review of an Alderweireld tackle upon Jesus in the build-up to this move, but there was no foul.
Spurs had the ball in the net again after 13 minutes but this one was ruled out for offside by Kane. Bergwijn had received an excellent long ball ( I think by Aurier) from the right and was just inside the area on the left. Bergwijn passed cross the area to Son, who returned it inside for Kane, who “scored” but was offside. A minute later the ball was at the other end and De Bruyne’s free kick was headed straight at Lloris by Rodri. The pressure continued upon the Spurs defence with three corners in succession around the 20-minute mark.
Hojbjerg was a typical example of determination, effort and skill, and not just at the back either. He was supporting Kane on the left of the City area and passed short to Bergwijn, but no shot came off this attack. Another Rodri header (this one from a De Bruyne corner) was copped away from his goal by Lloris. Spurs were then the beneficiaries of a VAR decision when Laporte thought he had scored (left foot inside the post) after a pass from Jesus to his left. The Spurs defence had appealed for handball, and hesitated a little to allow the “goal”. VAR Kevin Friend called referee Mike Dean to the pitch-side monitor and the goal was disallowed for handball by Jesus. The ball had struck him on his upper arm and his chest. It was not the first time we have benefitted from VAR against City of course!
There was good play by Reguilon inside his area against Mahrez which led to a good clearance down the left flank. Gabriel Jesus hit a right footed shot wide of Lloris’s right post after another concerted City attack. This one had involved Mahrez and Cancelo. De Bruyne had a shot deflected and took the corner himself but this was held by Hugo Lloris.
City kicked off the second half and Rodri had a shot blocked before Ndombele, Bergwijn and Kane composed n attack which did not lead to a shot. De Bruyne hit a right foot shot wide after Spurs failed to play the ball out properly from the back. Mahrez hit a left foot shot which Lloris held. Regulon battled for the ball against Kyle Walker and the ball broke in City’s favour with De Bruyne lifting a shot/cross onto the back of the net behind the goal.
Spurs had an attack after 52 minutes with no end product but both Aurier and Son had done well when tightly marked on the right flank inside the City half. Eric Dier made several vital blocks and had an excellent all-round game. Lloris held another Mahrez shot comfortably.
Harry Kane advanced through the middle and sent a lovely ball to Son towards the left of the City area. Ederson came rushing out and “Sonny” pushed the ball to his left, but sadly over-hit it at this stage, whereas a softer touch would have given him another goal.
Ndombele was replaced by Lo Celso, who had been fully briefed by Mourinho. Within a minute Gio was on the scoresheet. It was Alderweireld who sent a deliberate pass from the area to the feet of Harry Kane, who set off again on a furrow though the middle of City’s half. Harry fed the ball to Lo Celso to his left and Gio took a touch before firing home with his left foot.
Of course the game was not yet over, with 25 minutes to go. City were perfectly capable of scoring two, weren’t they? Mahrez was replaced by Sterling and Bernardo Silva by Foden. Truth be told, neither made an impact. Bergwijn was replaced by Lucas Moura. De Bruyne had yet another free kick, but hit this over the target.
Harry Kane was fouled by Dias but Dier hit the free kick into the wall. Toby Alderweireld went down, nursing some sort of muscular injury – possibly to his groin. Gareth Bale had been getting ready to come on, but it was Joe Rodon who replaced Toby and he can no doubt look forward to more game time over the coming weeks.
Spurs managed the end period very well, and City became less and less of a threat. Kane was fouled deep down the left flank and Dias was booked. Kane was booked for a foul on the same player at the other end, 25 yards out. De Bruyne took the free kick and Dias headed goalward, but Hugo made an excellent reaction save. In added time Cancelo hit a right footed shot wide of the top corner.
At the end of the game Jose embraced all of his players with some special regard towards Hojbjerg. Spurs went top of the league for a couple of hours after the West Brom game. This time they remain at the top of the table at the end of a day for the first time in 6 years and for the first time after 9 games since 1985!
This was an excellent team performance and such a massive result. After our home Europa league game against Ludogorets we go to Stamford Bridge next Sunday for another humdinger!
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