SUNDAY 3RD DECEMBER, 2023
MANCHESTER CITY 3(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1)
Son (o.g.), 9
Lo Celso, 69
Referee:- Simon Hooper
Assistants:- Adrian Holmes, Simon Long
Fourth official:- Anthony Taylor
VAR:- Robert Jones
Assistant VAR:- Darren Cann
Manchester City (3-2-4-1):- Ederson; Walker (Capt.), Dias, Gvardiol (sub Ake, 87); Rodri, Akanji; Foden (sub Lewis, 73), Alvarez (sub Kovacic, 87), Bernardo Silva, Doku (sub Grealish, 52); Haaland
Subs not used:- Ortega; Stones, Gomez; Phillips, Bobb
Booked:- Rodri (foul on Porro), Grealish (Dissent), Gvardiol (foul on Skipp), Haaland (Dissent)
Spurs (4-2-3-1/4-3-3):- Vicario; Porro, Emerson Royal, Davies, Udogie; Bissouma (sub Richarlison, 87), Lo Celso (sub Skipp, 79); Johnson (sub Donley, 90+6), Kulusevski, Gil (sub Hojbjerg, 46); Son (Capt)
Subs not used:- Forster, Austin; Dorrington; Santiago; Veliz
Booked:- Udogie (foul on Foden), Pedro Porro (foul on Grealish), Kulusevski (foul on Grealish), Emerson Royal (foul on Haaland)
Exhilaration at The Etihad
Thanks to Eugene Gasper for this picture
Not many people (your webmaster included) gave Spurs any hope of avoiding defeat today at The Etihad. Spurs (still decimated by injuries and the suspension of Cristian Romero) were at risk of matching or attaining unenviable records. They might have lost four Premier League games in a row for the first time since 2004. They could have become the first team since Sheffield United in 1971 to go undefeated for 10 league games before losing their next four matches. Finally, they were at risk of losing four consecutive games after scoring first. None of those things happened. I and other observers learned a life lesson. Never, ever give up hope, and always keep the faith.
This Spurs team, led by a charismatic, much admired and strong character in Ange Postecoglou, are true heroes. The manager told his team to be bold and brave in the second half, adjusting his tactical plan with Hojbjerg replacing Gil at the interval. Spurs came back from 2-1 and 3-2 down and did that by scoring cracking goals. We've had some exhilarating days at The Etihad, but this result by a team missing key players Romero, Van de Ven, Bentancur and Maddison to name just four, matches most of those previous successes. They, and we, can all be proud.
Spurs were further hampered before the game by the absence of Eric Dier, who apparently felt sore after the last pre-match training session. Richarlison was on the bench, but not match fit and only offered a possible five minutes or so. We had two goalkeepers and three untried teenagers on the bench.
There had been snow on and around the Pennines, but the match was played in wet, cold conditions. Kyle Walker captained City, for whom he was making his 250th start in all competitions for the club he joined over six years ago from Spurs. Spurs were playing in their taupe coloured third kit.
City kicked off and played towards the "away end". Early traffic was one-way with City winning two corners, the second of which was cleared by Gil. Vicario made a good save from Doku from another corner. After that, from the edge of his area, Gil fed the ball to Kulusevski to his left who sent Son away down the right with an excellent long crossfield pass. Son got the better of Doku and advanced into the right side of the box before beating Ederson (who did get a strong touch) with a right foot shot. This was in the sixth minute and brought back memories of how "Sonny" had surprised City with those two early goals in the 2019 Champions League quarter-final.
Having given us a sensational lead, it was Son who got his thigh to a City free kick to score at the wrong end within two minutes inside Vicario's right post.
Phil Foden, who scored his very first Premier League goal against Spurs in the game which followed that Champions League game, threatened with a cross/shot which was deflected powerfully towards Vicario's left post, where the Spurs keeper saved. Erling Haaland missed an open goal when presented with the ball following aa poor Spurs play-out from the back. This Spurs strategy gave me kittens on numerous occasions during the game.
Spurs were doubling up on Doku with Johnson supporting Porro. After another corner won by Doku, Haaland had another shot deflected wide for yet another corner. Another nice attack by Spurs led to us winning a corner through Udogie after Son's pass. Johnson won a second corner on the right. Johnson received another good long pass and got the better of Gvardiol, but Dias was equal to the cross. After this corner, Kulusevski hit a decent shot just wide of the far post.
Spurs won another corner, but then faced a nightmare scenario as City broke forward and Ben Davies was on Doku, who cut inside and hit both the bar and the post with his shot. It wasn't long before City had the lead after typical quick, short passing inside the area from Doku and Alvarez before Foden had an easy job to score inside Vicario's right post. Davies had been drawn away from Foden, trying to block Alvarez.
Poor play by Emerson led to a chance for Alvarez whose right foot shot rebounded off the post to safety. Haaland skied another shot after receiving from Alvarez. Gil and Soon featured in two Spurs attacks but didn't manage to hit a shot.
With the insertion of Hojbjerg, Spurs reverted to a more solid 4-3 with Johnson now on the left and Kulusevski operating on the right. Vicario gave the ball away, but then redeemed himself with a good save from Bernardo Silva.
Pep took off Doku and replaced him with Grealish. Spurs, who could have been 4-1 down at half-time, were looking more comfortable. Udogie was ahead and received from Son, passing to Johnson whose right-footed shot forced a save by Ederson. Grealish soon got booked after a decision did not go his way and he kicked the ball away. Referee Simon Hooper was generally allowing the game to flow.
Lo Celso, who had scored the first of his three Premier League goals against City in November 2021, and who had scored last week against Villa, made it 2-2 with a cracking left-footed shot inside Ederson's right post after receiving Son's short pass. Another Lo Celso shot was deflected and won a corner and he was subsequently disappointed to be taken off in favour of Skipp. A shot by Hojbjerg was blocked and hit Johnson who was unawares and could not control the ball.
City sub Rico Lewis, who recently made his England debut, got to the bye-line and crossed for Rodri, who fired over. City regained the lead after poor play by Bissouma just outside the area. Rodri fed Haaland towards the right of the box and his cross gave Grealish an easy finish.
Gvardiol was booked for a foul on Skipp, but Porro over-hit his free kick from the right. Spurs claimed an heroic equaliser in the 90th minute after Johnson crossed from deep on the left and Kulusevski overpowered substitute Ake and beat Ederson with a header (actually off his shoulder). Kulusevski has scored in each of his three visits to the Etihad.
Thanks to Andy Park for this picture
Referee Mr. Hooper had been involved in controversy at Tottenham when a good goal by Liverpool's Diaz was disallowed and in added time City fans, and players were incensed when Mr. Hooper initially allowed an advantage when Haaland was fouled before blowing his whistle and pulling play back as Grealish was (in City eyes) racing clear of the defence. (There was a defender only a yard behind him.) City also wanted a penalty for an alleged foul by Skipp, but they didn't win that argument either.
Richarlison did get on, as did Jamie Donley for his senior debut, but I don't recall either of them getting a touch. The celebrations at the away end were prolonged and ecstatic. We, and the players, an all take great heart from this excellent result which put us back in fifth place.
Next up is the little matter of a London derby against West Ham. At least Romero will be back for that game.
. Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
. Read the preview for this game.
. All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats
Top of page | Index to 2023-24 Match Reports