Guardiola sure Lamela would have levelled had Wembley grass been better
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Erik Lamela fired over for Tottenham Hotspur with 10 minutes left and Man City boss Pep Guardiola blamed the pitch for the miss
Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City were fortunate the surface at Wembley was in such a terrible state otherwise Tottenham Hotspur’s Erik Lamela would have found the net to potentially salvage the hosts a point from the Monday night Premier League clash.
A fifth-minute strike by Riyad Mahrez put the away side in control, but with the grass at the national stadium cut up and NFL pitch markings and the logo present, due to a game there the day before, both teams struggled to show their true quality.
When Spurs did produce a decisive piece of play in the final third with 80 minutes played, Lamela could only balloon the ball over the crossbar of Ederson’s goal with Dele Alli’s through ball hitting a bobble just as the Argentinian sized up the chance.
In Guardiola’s mind, it was clear lady luck was on his team’s side, he said: “When you play at the Emirates, Anfield and here it is normal to concede chances because the opponents are so tough and so good.
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“It is normal (to concede chances), so not a problem, but this game was a little bit of an exceptional because Lamela has a clear chance and due to the grass they didn’t score.
“If the grass is good, I am pretty sure Lamela, with his quality and left-foot, is better positioned to score the goal.”
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Tottenham had plenty of good openings, but lacked the required clinical touch needed in between the sticks.
Kieran Trippier, after he was at fault for the opener when he missed his header and let Raheem Sterling tee up Mahrez too easily, should have done better in the 10th minute, but his cross was cleared.
In the 23rd minute an even better chance was created when Moussa Sissoko burst down the right, but with Harry Kane, Lamela and Lucas Moura as options, he took too long and failed to find a team-mate.
Spurs continued to find spaces in between City’s midfield and defence and Kane should have done better in the 34th minute when Lamela played him in, but his touch was heavy and Ederson slide into him excellently to thwart the danger.
Five minutes later and Trippier was the latest Tottenham player to get on the ball in a dangerous situation, but the desired skill deserted him.
City started the second period with much more intent and should have extended their advantage by the hour mark, but David Silva, Raheem Sterling and Kyle Walker all failed to make the most of excellent situations.
Tottenham then got a second wind, largely thanks to the introduction of Harry Winks plus Dele Alli, and then the big opportunity arrived.
Alli won the ball back from Mahrez, Kane made a superb decoy run, and it allowed Lamela to be played in, but he blazed over from 12-yards with only Ederson to beat.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men pushed some more for a way back into the contest, but two Christian Eriksen crosses failed to test the champions late on and City clinched a hard-fought victory to return to the top of the table.
Guardiola said: “It is incredible how strong they are. I felt that in my first time playing against Tottenham in White Hart Lane in my first year, when we lost 2-0 and we could have lost 4-0.
“Now I realise how physical they are and that is why I give them a lot of credit in playing the way they played in the grass because it is something incredible, the way we played in that condition, so I give them a lot of credit.
“Tottenham is one of the teams I admire the most for the way they want to play, but I think the grass did not help them either because they have a lot of quality to play.
“Harry Winks came on the pitch and changed the game and with Dembele too and everybody else, so they are an exceptional team.”