Tottenham defeats Manchester City in a thrilling 3-2 end-to-end contest. The player who City chased and Tottenham deemed ‘untouchable’, Harry Kane, scores two goals for Tottenham, ultimately making the difference. The title race is officially back on.
Kane, Kulusevski, and the Korean Blow the Premier League Title Race Wide Open
When Tottenham and Manchester City met in Gameweek 1, things looked a lot different. Spurs were managed by Nuno and without Harry Kane, who City were heavily pursuing. Spurs defeated City 1-0 thanks to a Heung Min-Son goal, as Spurs fans chanted “Harry Kane are you watching?” in unison.
Fast forward to Gameweek 26 after Spurs deemed Kane “untouchable” and had Antonio Conte take over for Nuno, Spurs found themselves in eighth, while City sat comfortably in first in Premier League. A game that few believed Spurs would prevail in concluded with an iconic echoing chant from the away fans, “he’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Harry Kane, he’s one of our own,” and victory for Conte’s men.
Antonio Conte’s side got off to an absolute dream start four minutes in. Harry Kane played a gorgeous ball to Son, who was unselfish as ever to dump it to new-signing Dejan Kulusesvki, who slotted it home through the legs of João Cancelo. A symphony of movement, precision, and timing silenced the Etihad.
Although, when a team scores early against Manchester City, it is arguably to their detriment as the beast gets poked and awakened. City instantly controlled possession and were relentlessly knocking on the door, while Pep Guardiola was as animated as ever on the sidelines.
Spurs’ defensive formation, of essentially a 5-4-1, with Son and Kulusevski dropping back and packing the midfield, allowed City to flood down the wings and put in dangerous crosses that Spurs have struggled with recently.
Quality chances from both Cancelo and İlkay Gündoğan kept a Spurs defense of Ryan Sessegnon, Ben Davies, Eric Dier (back from injury), Christian Romero, and Emerson Royal on their toes, but keeper Hugo Lloris’ rust was exploited again. Lloris could not deal with a cross into the box that Gündoğan quickly slotted home.
After the first half ended, City likely walked off the pitch as the more comfortable side, getting an equalizer and controlling the lion’s share of possession.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Son delivered a perfect cross into Harry Kane, who fired Spurs back into a 2-1 lead against the run of play. City continued to control possession and dump balls into the box for Lloris and the Tottenham center backs to deal with.
In the 74th minute, everyone had thought Kane put the icing on the cake with a cool finish to make it 3-1; however, VAR, a piece of technology that has impacted so many meetings between these two, found Kulusevski to be offside.
VAR struck again in stoppage time after a Bernardo Silva cross struck the hand of Cristian Romero. Substitute Riyad Mahrez, who has been lethal from the spot recently, lashed one into the top right corner, tying the game up at two goals each.
With seven minutes of stoppage time remaining, momentum suggested that City would go on to win the game 3-2. but to everyone’s surprise, as Pep Guardiola likes to call Spurs, “the Harry Kane team” blew the title race wide open. Kulusevski crossed, and Kane rose over ex-teammate Kyle Walker to head home the winner.
It was a statement victory for Tottenham Hotspur, doing the double over Manchester City this season and contributing to two out of three of their losses in the league in 2021-22. Guardiola will recognize that Kane’s double made the difference, and it could have severe implications on the outcome of this year’s title race.
Liverpool are now only six points behind City with a game in hand, and Spurs improve to seventh with games in hand on Manchester United, West Ham, and Chelsea, and were able to stop a three-game league skid.
This end-to-end Premier League match will go down in history, and the boys in Lillywhite can hold their heads high after being on the right side of the narrative. Conte will be thrilled with his men as they relayed massive confidence, heart, and relent against Guardiola’s giants.
Tottenham Player Ratings
6. The Spurs captain was responsible for City’s first equalizer, after failing to hold onto a cross that Gündoğan finished. Made a couple of superb saves that kept Spurs in the game and was beaten by Mahrez’s fizzing penalty.
7. A massive improvement after getting pulled off early against Wolves last week. Bundles of energy, strong defensively, and filled in well for Sergio Reguilon. A player with lots of potential.
7.5. A player that is often critized by Spurs fans, but needs to be recognized for the consistent presence he has proven to be for Antonio Conte. Was defensively solid today and his left-footedness was critical to Spurs’ play as always.
7.5. A player Spurs could not have won without today at the heart of defense. Dier had a very steady performance in his first game back from injury and dealt with City’s crossing well.
6.5. So solid all game and so unlucky to concede the penalty in stoppage time. The Argentinian has become a staple of this team, and is a true Rolls Royce defender.
6. Major defensive improvement from his nightmare against Southampton, however, still struggled offensively. Solid performance, but needs replacing.
7. A classic Pierre-Emile Højbjerg display full of grit and passion. Struggled on the ball at times, however allowed new-signing Bentancur to take on most of these duties.
7. Fantastic performance from the new-boy, barring a couple of possession-losing passes and dribbles. Played a brilliant lofted ball to Kulusevski late on, who crossed to Kane for the winner.
8.5. The 21-year-old Swede took the spot of Lucas Moura tonight, and boy did he deliver. Confidently slotted home the opener and played a perfect cross to Kane for the winner. Worked hard all night.
8.5. Another unbelievable performance for Son against Manchester City. Very unselfish on Kulusevski’s opener and weighted his second assist to Kane to perfection.
9.5 (MOTM). A nearly perfect performance from Spurs main man, and the man City wanted for themselves so badly this past Summer. Cut out Dias so well on his pass to Son for the opener, and had two other quality finishes. Was the difference maker today.
Manchester City Player Ratings
5. Not much he could have done. It’s never good to conceded three goals on only six shots.
7. A pain for Spurs running up and down their right flank all game. So smooth on the ball and nearly scored a couple himself. One of City’s better players
4. Completely got it wrong on Spurs’ first and second goal’s. An uncharacteristic performance from Dias.
5.5. Some quality passing, but has to be at blame for part of City’s defensive struggles today. Better than Dias.
6. Excellent performance up until getting beat in the air by Kane for the winner. So strong defensively, as always, and had some dangerous crosses.
5.5. Steady as always on the ball, but slow off it. Genuinely such an important player in this Manchester City team and their performances suffer when his own do.
7. Played well today for City, and his shooting was especially dangerous. Hit the post early on and scored one as well.
Kevin De Bruyne
6. Played well, but not by his standards. Involved in City’s first goal, but usually does a lot more.
5. Failed to utilize bundles of space on the wing, which João Cancelo took upon himself. Poor performance from Sterling today.
5.5. Worked hard as always, but ultimately ineffective.
5. Didn’t do too much wrong, but was very uninvolved, especially in the second half. Should have looked to create more.
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