Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Spurs crushed as City soar to summit

Tottenham 1 Manchester City 5

Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's fourth goal
Manchester City's Stevan Jovetic (centre) celebrates with team-mates after scoring his team's fourth goal
Danny Rose of Tottenham Hotspur fouls Edin Dzeko of Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur's Etienne Capoue (C) scores a goal against Manchester City

Henry Winter

Who can stop Manchester City? Picking up speed with ominous ease, Manuel Pellegrini's prolific team swept aside Spurs, claiming the high ground of the Premier League, sending out a warning to anyone who dares challenge them. City's hunger for this title, and the quality of football, is formidable.

Sergio Aguero began the scoring, Yaya Toure added a controversial penalty second, Edin Dzeko added a third before Stevan Jovetic and Vincent Kompany finished off Spurs. Tim Sherwood's side were enraged by some questionable decision-making by Andre Marriner, the referee, and his assistant, Scott Ledger, particularly a disallowed goal and the Toure penalty which saw Danny Rose dismissed.

But City were a class apart. David Silva was outstanding. Fernandinho was a force in the centre. By the end, the City fans were chanting of their on-loan striker "Adebayor, what's the score?" Emmanuel Adebayor played well but he lacked service. The sole negative for his parent club was the sight of Aguero hobbling off, rubbing his right hamstring. Jovetic's return from injury helps.

Having amassed 16 points from 18 in the Premier League, Spurs had felt confident as they kicked off against City but the size of the task was soon apparent, even before their frustration mounted over the decisions of Marriner and his officials.


City's class was obvious for sustained periods, particularly when David Silva was involved.

They were typically set up to attack, moving the ball quickly wide or through the middle, looking to insinuate their way through holes in the Spurs defence. Aguero hit the post even before scoring after 15 minutes.

The Argentinian angled his run from the centre to the right, dragging the ball past Michael Dawson and then the unconvincing Vlad Chiriches before shooting back across goal, the ball clipping the upright and bouncing clear.

Silva was pulling the strings, moving in from the left, and either looking for the flying Gael Clichy on the overlap or touching the ball behind Spurs' defence for the runs of Aguero or Edin Dzeko.

For a while, Spurs were so far on the back-foot they were almost on the North Circular. Mousa Dembele did spark some cheers, dribbling past Toure, but the main splashes of colour on the canvas were of a blue hue.

Toure suddenly varied the attack, transferring the ball 50 yards to Dzeko.

Fortunately for Spurs, Kyle Walker, not always assured defensively in the first half, was alive to the Bosnian's movement.

City's opening goal was a gem. Silva's pass to Aguero was perfect, the ball delivered on the run with the outside of his left boot, weighted to elude Michael Dawson and Danny Rose. Aguero calmly, inevitably, scored, lifting the ball back in over Hugo Lloris from a tightening angle.

Pellegrini's side deserved the goal such had been their mastery of the ball yet Spurs are made of sterner stuff under Sherwood.

Rose began making inroads down the left, attacking Pablo Zabaleta. Adebayor, who was all smiles and hugs with the City players before kick-off, started to show his parent club what they were missing, whisking the ball past Martin Demichelis, running hard for scant reward.

But City simply poured forward again. Pellegrini's commitment to attack was one of the reasons why City turned to him to replace the more defensive Roberto Mancini. Another of their first-half attacks could easily have brought a second. Silva was again the catalyst, playing Clichy down the left, the Frenchman's sudden change of pace totally deceiving Walker.

Clichy cut the ball back, missing out the leaping Dzeko, picking out Aguero, whose header seemed destined for the Spurs net. The home fans behind the goal looked resigned to going further behind. But Lloris threw himself towards the ball, stretching out his left hand and somehow pushing the ball to safety.

City continued to chase a second. Aguero volleyed over. Silva's shot deflected wide. Spurs needed an inspiration.

Dembele stepped forward, beginning to regain some of the central midfield area. He played one pass out left to Rose, whose cross was cleared by Vincent Kompany for a corner. The Belgian defender then nicked the ball away from Adebayor.

Spurs were improving for a while. Christian Eriksen, who had been struggling for space between Toure, Fernandinho and Kompany, was then presented with a free-kick on the left.

He curled it in, Adebayor tried to get a touch, but the ball carried on towards the far-post where Dawson bundled it in. Spurs' celebrations where short-lived as the assistant referee, Scott Ledger, signalled for offside by Dawson when he was onside.

The margin was incredibly tight but Spurs' frustration was understandable.

City, in contrast, could have pointed to Adebayor being in an offside position and arguably interfering.

It looked harsh on Spurs, and their mood turned as filthy as the weather early in the second half. City had lost Aguero to a hamstring injury, bringing Stevan Jovetic into the rain-soaked fray, but it was a run from another City striker, Dzeko, that triggered more controversy.

Rose was caught out by Dzeko's run but he slid in, flicking the ball away.

Marriner did not look ready to give the penalty but Legder signalled the offence. As Spurs despaired, as Rose trudged away, Toure put the ball on the spot and then drilled it past Lloris.

Kyle Naughton replaced Gylfi Sigurdsson as Sherwood responded to Rose's exit. It then got worse for Spurs, conceding a third. Silva had wriggled his way into some space. Lloris pushed Silva's shot onto the upright but Dzeko buried the loose ball.

Yet Spurs showed real character, their 10 angry men forcing a corner which Eriksen swept into the box.

Capoue, who had replaced Dembele at the break, was quickest to the loose ball, shooting from 10 yards past Joe Hart.

Any hope of a spectacular comeback ended with 11 minutes remaining when Fernandinho charged through the middle, before playing the ball left to Jovetic.

A player who has experienced a frustrating, injury-plagued start to his City score, Jovetic took his chance well, cutting in from the left, working the ball on to his right foot and firing goalwards, the ball deflecting in off Chiriches.

It was Jovetic's first Premier League goal and his arrival simply enhances City's goalscoring riches. It is particularly well-timed with Aguero's injury. But even Pellegrini's defenders were chipping in with goals, Kompany pouncing late on. (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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