Man City 2-2 Tottenham: Talking points as dominant display means draw is only a blip for champions

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An enthralling contest at the Etihad Stadium was brought to a dramatic end when VAR denied Manchester City a stoppage-time winner against Tottenham on Saturday.

Substitute Gabriel Jesus’ late effort was disallowed on review for a handball by Aymeric Laporte, much to the dismay of the hosts.

The Premier League champions absolutely dominated proceedings, attempting a whopping 30 shots to Spurs’ three, yet Mauricio Pochettino’s side secured a share of the spoils with a 2-2 draw.

Kevin De Bruyne provided the pass for Raheem Sterling to break the deadlock 20 minutes in and then set up Sergio Aguero after Erik Lamela had cancelled out the Englishman’s strike.

Lucas Moura came off the bench and scored from a corner seconds after taking to the pitch.


City were outstanding last season. Liverpool threw down the gauntlet and the champions rose to the challenge. Even when the trophy seemed destined to head to Merseyside for the first time in 29 years, City pulled their socks up and went on a storming run of eight consecutive wins. However, five of those victories were settled by a slender 1-0 scoreline.

In fending off the Reds, Pep Guardiola’s men grew in stature. They strolled to the title in the previous campaign but are now battled-hardened. And that’s one reason why the early signs of this season are very ominous indeed.

An underwhelming first half display at West Ham last week meant little when they switched gears and ran out emphatic 5-0 winners with hat-trick hero Sterling in imperious form. On Saturday at the Etihad, they began like a house on fire and Spurs were their doomed incumbents.

The visitors were only allowed 14 per cent of possession in the opening 15 minutes as City pressed high up the pitch. The intensity inevitably dropped off but not before Sterling broke the deadlock following a series of chances.

Remarkably, Spurs levelled with their first foray, Lamela just as surprised as anyone else when he found the back of the net. Wave after wave of City attacks yielded an Aguero strike. Against all odds, the away side equalised soon after the restart with only their second attempt, nothing if not efficient.

However, City kept going, kept forcing the issue and kept threatening until Spurs could keep them at bay no longer. Jesus led the celebrations only to be brought down to earth as referee Michael Oliver relayed the reviewed decision.

Nevertheless, it takes nothing away from City’s relentless nature and perseverance which should hold them in good stead for another title charge – battle-hardened.


City addressed a few key deficiencies in their squad over the summer. Guardiola brought in cover for the full-back positions and a Fernandinho replacement was found in Rodri. Yet, the biggest boost to the squad this season may be the return of a fully fit De Bruyne.

Watching the Belgian boss proceedings on Saturday, it’s extraordinary to think City did so well last season in his absence. The playmaker provided an incredible nine key passes in the encounter, Tottenham as a whole managed three.

He exploited the space in behind Danny Rose to the fullest, winding up with a staggering 18 crosses. The pick of the bunch was naturally the won that found Sterling at the far post for the opener – an early entry for assist of the season. Another drilled across the six-yard box was turned in by Aguero.

It’s a miracle Tottenham survived in the end with De Bruyne continuing to pull the strings. Keeping him fit for the duration of the season will ensure City are never short of goal-scoring chances.


According to Opta, City’s expected goals (xG) in this match was 3.0 and 2.78 more than Tottenham’s (0.22). Yet, both ended with two goals apiece. Those numbers, coupled with the intervention of VAR may render Spurs fortuitous but they deserve a little more credit.

Given the way City started the game, Pochettino’s side could easily have folded after going behind. They rode their luck, but there also seems to be a belief in this squad that they can recover and fight a way back into proceedings – perhaps stemming from their heroics at Ajax in last season’s Champions League.

They were utterly outplayed on the day but they have the individual quality to make opportunities count and they were absolutely clinical when presented with them. They also defended manfully in the closing stages while posing a threat on the break – though any counters failed to materialise. Resisting City as the clock ran down was no mean feat.

In the grand scheme of things, the manner in which this point was earned will matter little. It’s a draw at the Etihad. Pochettino will take that all day long.

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