Spurs completely outclassed by Pep Guardiola’s soon-to-be Premier League champions Manchester City
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester City 3
Manchester City showed their class and why they will be Premier League champions with a top drawer display at Wembley Stadium to defeat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on Saturday evening.
Pep Guardiola’s team came into the contest off the back of three straight defeats and following a midweek Champions League exit, but they were on top form from the first minute in London.
Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling saw them triumph over Mauricio Pochettino’s team who battled hard, but simply couldn’t live with the Etihad outfit throughout the contest at the national stadium.
There were four changes made to the Spurs team which defeated Stoke City 2-1 last weekend as Danny Rose missed out through a calf injury while Serge Aurier, Victor Wanyama and Heung-min Son dropped to the bench.
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Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies returned to emphasis they are Pochettino’s first choice right-back and left-back.
Further up the pitch Eric Dier partnered Mousa Dembele in the centre of midfield and Erik Lamela was preferred to Son in the attacking positions behind Kane.
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There was again no place for Toby Alderweireld on the bench, but academy forward Kazaiah Sterling was among the replacements.
A product of Spurs’ youth-team since August 2010, after time with fellow London club Leyton Orient, the striker made his club debut on December 6 coming on for the final minutes of Tottenham’s 3-0 win over APOEL in the Champions League.
Sterling’s inclusion on the bench was either Pochettino showing his faith in the club’s academy or a warning sign to Fernando Llorente that his days at Spurs are numbered or perhaps it was both.
Meanwhile for the visitors, champions-elect City, Guardiola made just three changes to the side which lost 2-1 to Liverpool at the Etihad on Tuesday in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Vincent Kompany returned and captained the side while Fabian Delph slotted in at left-back and Gundogan started with Nicolas Otamendi and Bernardo Silva on the bench and Fernandinho suspended.
This was Kyle Walker’s second game against Spurs since leaving the north Londoners in the summer, but first in front of a home Tottenham crowd and the right-back earned a warm applause from most of the Lilywhites faithful in amongst the odd boo.
It was City who got proceedings underway and despite the title looking wrapped up and a top-four finish for the hosts appearing almost assured, there was a buoyant feel inside the stadium prior to kick-off like there was plenty at stake.
Surprisingly Walker’s first touch of the ball saw him booed and perhaps less of a surprise was the fact Guardiola’s team settled first.
After three defeats in a row, some nerves could have been anticipated from the away side, but they attacked from the off and should have taken the lead with four minutes on the clock.
Davinson Sanchez dropped too deep and allowed David Silva to play through Brent-born Sterling on the right.
With so much time and space, the former Liverpool man chipped into the path of Leroy Sane and he volleyed against the post from 14-yards as Spurs were given a big let-off.
Tottenham were off the pace and especially Lamela, who gave away the ball on three occasions inside seven minutes.
City’s pressing and quick passing was causing Pochettino’s team all sorts of problems and Sterling had more joy in the eighth minute, but drilled over when running at the home defence.
Kevin De Bruyne was the next person to try his luck, less than 60 seconds later, but his shot flew well wide.
It was all City in the possession stacks and when it comes to attacking play, though Spurs won a corner soon after and it did help them slowly settle.
The crowd, sensing it had been a difficult start, also urged the hosts on and by the 15th minute Tottenham had adjudged to the pace of the game.
Although Spurs had settled, City were still dictating play and went close in the 20th minute when Sterling got in on the right again and cut back for Gundogan, but Sanchez stuck a boot out and deflected his effort over the crossbar.
The visitors failed to do much with the resulting corner, but kept possession well and attacked again with 22 on the clock and this time it produced the opener.
Kompany received possession deep inside his own half and played a simple long ball forward. Jesus made the run and peeled off Sanchez too easily and fired past Lloris to open the scoring in the 22nd minute.
It had been coming and was thoroughly deserved for Guardiola’s team and for Spurs it was important they regrouped.
They didn’t though and with 24 on the clock they were a goal down and had given away a penalty.
More lack of calmness on the ball saw possession lost and Sterling was played through again, but this time on the left and Lloris came racing out and slide in and brought the England winger down.
Play resumed as Jesus looked to control the loose ball and turn it into the empty net, but referee Jon Moss blew his whistle and pointed to the spot.
It did look like contact had been made inside the area and Sterling’s momentum took him into the 18-yard box, but replays suggested the tackle had taken place just outside the penalty area.
City had a spot-kick though, and Gundogan stepped up and made no mistake from 12-yards and in the space of three first-half minutes, the visitors had scored twice and taken complete control of the game.
The second goal also stemmed from another Lloris mistake – his third in a row after gaffs at Chelsea and Stoke City already this month.
Tottenham’s goalkeeper was booked as a result of the foul and Davies went into the book of Moss soon after for a poor and high tackle on Kompany, who rightly was upset and aggrieved about the challenge.
A fine tackle by Sanchez just before the half an hour mark helped Spurs settle some more after Sane got in down the left.
Tottenham finally produced a neat move in the 31st minute, but Lamela shot wide from range after good play by Dele Alli, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen.
Spurs’ fans were growing restless and taking their frustration out on referee Moss, who looked to be losing control of the contest.
More yellow cards were shown, the latest to De Bruyne for a foul on international team-mate Vertonghen and then Tottenham were handed a lifeline.
Lamela slide the ball through to Kane and he turned provider by slipping Eriksen in on goal and he got his shot off, but Aymeric Laporte slide in and blocked the initial effort and yet the ball ricocheted off Eriksen and past Ederson to make it 2-1.
After being second best for virtually all of the first 45, Spurs were now only a goal behind City and the home crowd were full of voice again.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on and although Jesus went into the book, Tottenham were unable to create another opportunity and it remained 2-1 at the break.
Spurs got the second period underway and unsurprisingly looked full of confidence and belief and it was clear the fourth goal in this game was crucial.
An early free kick opportunity added to the optimism after the restart, but Ederson punched clear under pressure and the offside flag was up in the 47th minute anyway.
It helped keep the fans in the game though, and Tottenham continued to push and probe the City back line.
Alli was caught accidently by Kompany in the area and needed treatment on his ankle and the delay failed to halt Spurs’ momentum.
With 10 minutes of the second half played, they hadn’t properly tested Ederson though and that was the challenge for Pochettino’s side.
City were looking uncharacteristically sloppy on the ball, however, and it Guardiola was looking anxious on the touchline.
A second delay occurred when Jesus needed treatment in the 57th minute, but it failed to flatten the bubbling atmosphere inside Wembley Stadium and a wonderful double tackle from Vertonghen on the hour mark increased the decibel levels in Brent.
Guardiola’s men looked to have weathered the storm as they slowly began to dictate possession and the pace of the game.
And in the 64th minute City should have wrapped up the points when Gundogan put Jesus through again after running off Sanchez for the second time, but with only Lloris to beat he miscued his effort and it went harmlessly wide.
It was a great opportunity and Pochettino reacted with Son introduced for Lamela with 26 minutes left.
The South Korean entered the pitch to a rapturous reception, but the visitors attacked again in the 65th minute when Silva got down the left and cut back for Sterling, but Davies came across well and deflected the effort enough to see Lloris save with ease.
Son did get involved 60 seconds later, as he went past Kompany and was tugged back – earning a free kick in the process and getting the City captain booked.
Guardiola’s team were back on it now and created another fantastic opportunity with 71 on the clock.
Walker got played in down the right and crossed into the area. Lloris pushed out his centre and it came straight to Sterling. He went past the Spurs goalkeeper, but just as he was about to shoot, Trippier stuck a leg out and blocked his effort.
It was another missed opportunity for the champions-elect, but the next opening they made they took.
Tottenham failed to deal with the corner into the area and although Lloris saved from Jesus, Sterling was on hand to fire in the rebound and added his name to the scoresheet.
It was game, set and match now, but Pochettino introduced Lucas Moura with straight after with Dembele making way.
City were beginning to get rampant again and it should have been 4-1 with quarter of an hour remaining when Sterling peeled off Sanchez and raced through, but to the credit of the Colombian, the centre back got back to block the effort.
Alli’s last involvement was to have a shot deflected over after smart play by Moura, as Moussa Sissoko replaced the England midfielder with 84 on the clock and it meant Sterling had to wait for his league debut.
Moura was proving a bright spark in the final moments at Wembley as he teed up Eriksen for a chance, but Ederson saved with three minutes to go.
The national stadium was emptying now, but the City fans were enjoying themselves and full of voice like they had been for most of the game.
As four minutes of stoppage time was added on, there was still time for Moura to again show his quality with a long-range effort, but Ederson saved and Sissoko’s follow up cross was blocked.
The resulting corner came to nothing and after some more minutes passed by, the full time whistle was blown.
City were on the verge of winning the title after a classy display and in fairness they could have won by a greater margin than just two goals.
For Spurs, it was another bruising defeat to Guardiola’s men and showed the gulf in class between the two teams is still wide.
Tottenham will look to bounce back at Brighton & Hove Albion on Tuesday and after Chelsea’s comeback victory at Southampton earlier today, they are only seven points ahead of the Blues with five games left, so there is work to do in the top-four battle.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris; Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies; Dier, Dembele (Moura 72); Lamela (Son 64), Eriksen, Alli (Sissoko 84); Kane.
Unused substitutes: Vorm, Wanyama, Aurier, Sterling.
Manchester City starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Delph; Gundogan, D.Silva, De Bruyne (Toure 89); Sane, Sterling; Jesus (B.Silva 76).
Unused substitutes: Bravo, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Foden, Diaz.