Tottenham prove Manchester City's undoing yet again as VAR denies Gabriel Jesus late winner
A frenetic match at Etihad Stadium ends 2-2 but the Brazilian striker looked to have sealed the victory in injury time
For Pep Guardiola, Tottenham Hotspur are an object of admiration and irritation. His first defeat as Manchester City manager came at White Hart Lane. Uefa Champions League elimination last season came courtesy of Mauricio Pochettino’s team. Now City’s run of 15 straight Premier League wins was ended by Tottenham.
It was an unwanted action replay for City. In April, Raheem Sterling had a seeming Champions League decider disallowed by VAR. On Saturday, Gabriel Jesus had celebrated after firing an injury-time shot in. Then technology showed the ball had glanced off Aymeric Laporte’s arm en route to the Brazilian. Tottenham were reprieved.
But if their first point on the road since January, 209 days earlier, may have come in fortunate fashion in a game City dominated, Pochettino displayed a hint of alchemy.
Four months after Fernando Llorente came off the bench to score a crucial goal, Lucas Moura scored 19 seconds after his introduction. Tottenham may have struck with their first two attempts on target, but City’s profligacy came at a cost as two points were dropped.
They had 30 shots. Bernardo Silva lobbed the otherwise excellent Hugo Lloris but was denied by the bar. Rodri and the substitute Jesus – on for Sergio Aguero, who looked unhappy to come off – also came close, but an onslaught did not bring a decider.
Not for the first time in this fixture, Kevin de Bruyne’s brilliance did not get its due reward. The Belgian produced an outstanding effort in vain in their last meeting and, if City at least had something to show for their efforts, this certainly was not the rout De Bruyne threatened to bring.
He got two assists. But for a miss by Ilkay Gundogan, it would have been a hat-trick. He almost struck himself, too, whistling a shot just past wide. Instead, City’s goals came from predictable sources.
Guardiola believes Sterling can get 30 this season. At the rate it's going, a man who got a personal best of 25 last year should top that. His fifth in three games illustrated both his predatory streak and the way his repertoire is broadening.
Sterling does not tend to be associated with headers, but this was dispatched expertly, angled past Lloris. If it was the product of movement, as he eluded the rookie Kyle Walker-Peters, it was also an illustration of De Bruyne’s wonderful delivery.
Pochettino had sought to stop his side from being outflanked, as they had been in this fixture two seasons ago. Unusually, they were deployed in two banks of four. Yet Spurs still struggled on their left and De Bruyne did not need to venture to the touchline.
He is the outstanding crosser in the English game. He set up Sterling’s goal with a cross from infield, Aguero’s with a burst to the byline and a low cutback. The Argentinian, with evident sharpness, made a trademark near-post run to supply the sublime finish.
Yet if De Bruyne’s ability to run away from Harry Winks at will put City on top, it also drew a response. Pochettino substituted Winks. His replacement was Lucas and the Brazilian demonstrated why Spurs awarded him a five-year contract this week with further evidence of his ability to score against elite opponents.
He met Erik Lamela’s corner to loop a header over Ederson. It was Lamela’s second telling contribution.
The Argentinian had not scored since November but his drought ended when he whipped in a shot from 20 yards as City, uncharacteristically, backed off. Tanguy Ndombele, who struck on his debut last week, added an assist in his first game on the road and Spurs’ run of six straight away league defeats came to an end.
Updated: August 17, 2019 10:40 PM