Tottenham Hotspur’s English midfielder Dele Alli (2nd R) jumps to head their first goal past Manchester City’s Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on January 21, 2017.
Oli SCARFF / AFP
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were denied a morale-boosting Premier League victory as Tottenham Hotspur came from two goals down to earn a contentious 2-2 draw on Saturday.
Blunders by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris allowed Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne to give City a deserved 2-0 lead, only for Dele Alli and substitute Son Heung-Min to grab a point for the visitors.
The game’s main talking point occurred shortly before Son’s 77th-minute leveller when Kyle Walker got away with a push on City forward Raheem Sterling inside the Spurs box as he took aim at Lloris.
Guardiola reacted furiously and having seen his team humiliated 4-0 at Everton on their previous outing he will know this was a huge missed opportunity for his misfiring team.
City, for whom £27 million ($33 million, 31 million euros) new signing Gabriel Jesus made his debut, remain fifth and will fall 12 points off the pace if leaders Chelsea beat Hull City on Sunday.
While Spurs remain second, the point earned at the Etihad Stadium came at a cost for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who had been chasing a seventh successive league win.
Toby Alderweireld was forced off by injury in the second half, meaning he will potentially join fellow Belgian centre-back Jan Vertonghen on the sidelines.
City’s defeat at Everton was the heaviest league reverse of Guardiola’s stellar coaching career, but his response was to go on the attack.
Centre-back John Stones was dropped again, while De Bruyne and David Silva joined Yaya Toure in an attacking midfield trio that enabled City to pierce holes in Spurs’ rearguard right from kick-off.
After sights of goal for Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero, Lloris turned a low Silva shot behind and then stood motionless as Zabaleta’s drive from De Bruyne’s corner skidded inches wide.
With Spurs incapable of playing through City’s high press, Kevin Wimmer and Eric Dier were both booked inside the first 13 minutes.
– Turning point –
By the time De Bruyne rolled a cross-shot across goal and wide after Aguero had robbed Dier, Pochettino had seen enough, moving Dier into midfield and swapping his 3-4-2-1 for a more stable 4-3-2-1.
Still City came, with Sane heading wide and Lloris twice thwarting Aguero, springing to his right to catch a header and then getting down at his near post to parry a left-foot drive.
Pochettino made another change at the interval, sending on Son for Wimmer, but within nine minutes of kick-off his side were 2-0 down as Lloris unwittingly took centre stage.
Flying out to meet De Bruyne’s 50-yard pass on the edge of his box, Lloris contrived to head the ball against Sane, who had the simple task of tapping into an empty net.
If fortune deserted Lloris on that occasion, he only had himself to blame five minutes later as his failure to gather Sterling’s cross from the right allowed De Bruyne to bundle in City’s second.
It was no more than the hosts deserved, but just four minutes later Spurs hit back, Alli heading in Walker’s superb right-wing cross for his eighth goal in seven games.
Danny Rose had to produce a brilliant last-gasp tackle to prevent Sterling restoring City’s two-goal cushion before Alderweireld limped off holding the back of his right thigh.
Then came the game’s turning point.
Walker pushed Sterling as he raced through, meaning the England forward could only dink a tame shot straight at Lloris, and moments later Harry Kane’s flicked lay-off was swept home by Son.
Nineteen-year-old Brazil starlet Jesus made his entrance with seven minutes to go, but there would be no late miracle as he headed narrowly over and saw a tap-in ruled out for offside.