Jack Grealish speaks to Sky Sports. “I thought we actually did alright in the first half. We had the better chances. It obviously wasn’t the best dressing room at half time. It was silent for a while. But the manager gave us some encouragement and I thought we were brilliant in the second half. We weren’t thinking about the table, we were just thinking about the game. Since I’ve been here we’ve lost both games against Spurs, and I thought that might be the case [again] at half time. But Riyad was on fire!”
Man-of-the-match Riyad Mahrez adds: “We played good in the first half. We were frustrated at half time. The manager spoke to us and we knew, we’ve done it before, that we can come back from two goals behind. We played so good in the second half. We showed what we are. We deserved the win. It’s very good and we have to keep going. We were more direct and aggressive with the ball. The second half was top.”
Fans of Spurs and league leaders Arsenal will understandably demur, for their own differing reasons, but that was such a lot of fun. It may prove a huge turning point in the title race, too. At the break, City were staring down the barrel of an eight-point deficit at the top, Arsenal with one game in hand. But their sensational second-half switcheroo means they snap their two-game losing streak and cut the gap to five points. Confidence very much restored … and all done without Kevin De Bruyne as well, who got a nice rest. Given City still have to play the Gunners twice, this title race is very much ON. If this is anything to go by, the second half of the season could be quite the ride.
City aren’t booed off the pitch this time! A huge roar greets the final whistle. What a second-half turnaround! Can this fixture be played every week?
90 min +3: Son slides Richarlison into space down the right. Richarlison has an opportunity to find Kane in the middle, where he’d surely sidefoot home from ten yards. But the low cross clanks into the first man. No consolation third for Spurs.
90 min +2: Grealish strides down the middle with Mahrez, on a hat-trick, to his right. He opts to feed Alvarez to his left instead. Alvarez slashes a hysterical shot high and wide. No hat-trick for Mahrez, but he has been named man of the match. He’s been quite outstanding in this second half.
90 min +1: In the first of four added minutes, Haaland makes way for Dias.
It’s all over! Ederson launches long. Lenglet miscontrols, 30 yards out. Mahrez latches onto the loose ball, reaches the edge of the Spurs box, draws Lloris, and dinks home to secure a sensational comeback win for the champions of England!
89 min: Kane chases after a long pass down the right and whips into the middle for Son. Ederson makes the catch, but only at the second swipe. For a nanosecond, it looked as though the City keeper was going to gift another goal to Spurs.
87 min: A big few minutes coming up, and the game suddenly takes on the rhythm of a basketball match. Proper end-to-end hectic fun. City attack. Spurs counter. Hojbjerg makes a nuisance of himself to the left of the City six-yard box but can’t get the ball under control for a shot, and his eventual cutback goes to nobody.
85 min: Haaland nearly bursts clear down the middle but can’t power his way past Romero, who stands firm and refuses to concede the space required for a shot. Haaland falls over instead, and half-heartedly claims for a penalty. City are certainly not getting this one.
83 min: The superb Rico Lewis makes way for Walker. “The virtue of patience in football is overrated. Confirmation bias kicks in because the better teams usually enjoy more possession and, when they eventually do convert it into goals (as they should), their patience is lauded. But nobody counts the goals impatience would have brought. City have looked more impatient in this half than at any time in weeks and far better for it in terms of outcomes and entertainment.” Professor Gary Naylor there, providing some analysis for your edification.
82 min: The corner’s swung long. Rodri rises at the far post and heads back across goal. Richarlison jumps with his arm out. The ball hits that arm, but from close range, and with his back turned. You’ve seen them given, but though VAR takes a look, there’s no interest in awarding a penalty this time. Spurs get away with one there.
81 min: Haaland, Mahrez and Alvarez race en masse towards the Spurs box. They overplay and can’t get a shot away, but settle for a corner. Mahrez to take from the right.
80 min: City make their first change of the evening, swapping out Gundogan for Bernardo Silva.
78 min: A double change for Spurs, as Davies and Emerson make way for Lenglet and Richarlison. “Does Jonathan Wilson also have an insight into Spurs conceding goals in bursts?” wonders Matthieu de Vallavieille.
77 min: Grealish and Ake combine crisply down the left. Haaland races into the box, screaming for a high cross to head home. Ake instead cuts back to nobody in particular.
75 min: Bissouma comes on for Bentancur. “Don’t know why Paul Romney is saying oops,” begins Richard Hirst, setting himself up for the punchline. “He was right: business as usual – for both City and Spurs.”
74 min: With Kane screaming for the ball in the middle, and City light at the back, Son and Emerson take an age to combine down the right wing and get a cross away. When one eventually comes in, the ball breaks back to Romero, who lashes a woeful effort miles over the bar. Son so ponderous, so obviously drained of confidence right now.
72 min: Son shovels the free kick down the inside-right channel. Kane makes a superb diagonal run out of the pack to meet the ball, 12 yards out, just to the right of goal. If he brings it down properly, he’s got a clear shot at goal. But the ball clanks up onto his hand, and although he still manages to get a shot away, it’s no good, and the whistle soon goes for the handball anyway.
71 min: Gundogan goes over in the vicinity of Romero, and demands a free kick. The referee quite rightly doesn’t award one. Spurs counter. Gundogan, incensed, races back and skittles Bentancur. Now that’s a free kick. Spurs load the box.
69 min: Perisic, who came so close to retaking the lead for Spurs, makes way for Sessegnon. The margins between success and failure are tissue-paper thin in the Premier League.
67 min: Spurs look utterly shell-shocked. On the touchline, Antonio Conte quietly seethes. You’d pay to witness his full-time dressing-room debrief if this result stays the same, wouldn’t you. “Oops!” adds Spurs fan and half-time correspondent Paul Romney.
65 min: Lloris should have saved that. There was a slight deflection on Mahrez’s shot, off Davies, but even so, it shouldn’t have slipped through such a small gap with the keeper in situ at the near post. It took City a mere 18 minutes to turn this match around the full 180!
Rodri passes towards Mahrez on the right wing. Perisic should intercept, but he misses the ball altogether. Mahrez romps into the box, drops a shoulder to get past Davies, and sends a screamer past Lloris at his near post! What a turnaround! That’s why they’re champions.
62 min: Kulusevski with space down the right yet again. He reaches the edge of the box and rolls across to Kane, who drags an uncharacteristically wild shot miles right of the target. The scoring in this match is surely not over.
60 min: Kulusevski romps down the right wing, sent clear by Kane’s cute reverse pass. He strides into acres and reaches the byline. He cuts back for Son, but the ball flies behind him and through to Perisic instead. Spurs surely must score! But Perisic’s low drive is deflected up off Lewis, bravely throwing himself in its road, onto the bar, and away! Spurs so close to retaking the lead!
58 min: Ake comes sliding in on Kulusevski. He’s not out of control, but he is clumsy, and he catches his man on the ankle. A sore one, but the Spurs winger is good to continue, and it’s a chance for Spurs to catch a breath and attempt to regroup. “To bring some relief to Matt Dony, we ain’t weighing this result against Arsenal’s title ambitions now,” writes Yash Gupta. “Up against our own defenders though!”
56 min: Now Mahrez sends a screamer inches wide of the right-hand post. You wouldn’t think Pep possesses a hairdryer. Not to look at him. But looks like he turned one on, full blast, at half time!
55 min: City are absolutely rampant! Grealish shimmies and shakes his way down the left and into the box. He makes just enough space to shoot from a tight angle but opts to cross instead. Poor decision, as his low fizzer is hacked clear by Hojbjerg.
City may concede goals in batches. They also score them in batches too! Mahrez slips a pass infield from the right for Rodri, who shovels it down the channel. Mahrez has kept running, and wins a header on the right-hand edge of the six-yard box. He sends the ball across to Haaland, who can’t miss with a header from close range! What a game this is! What a comeback!
City haven’t exactly flown out of the blocks at the start of the second half. So Lewis takes things into his own hands, moving through the gears down the right. Having picked up City’s pace, the hosts strike. Mahrez drops a shoulder to skate past Perisic down the right and stands one up. Lloris can’t clear. Gundogan can’t get a header goalwards. The ball drops to Alvarez, who sweeps home from eight yards. The comeback’s on!
49 min: Emerson goes down to get some treatment for an ankle knock. He’s up again soon enough. The City fans don’t appreciate the break in play. Meanwhile here’s Matt Dony: “Delirious Spurs fans everywhere weighing up this potential result against the fact that it helps Arsenal inch closer to the League title. Football. You beautiful, heartless enigma.”
48 min: Alvarez spins down the inside-right channel and looks for the bottom-left corner from distance. Lloris ushers a tame effort out for a goal kick.
46 min: Mahrez launches long down the right wing. Davies calmly heads back to Lloris.
City get the second half underway. Somewhat surprisingly, there have been no changes. How long until Kevin De Bruyne is sent on?
Meanwhile in the Sky studio, City legend Micah Richards is fuming, not so much at the scoreline, more the booing that rang around the Etihad when the half-time whistle sounded. “That’s not acceptable. City have brought joy for years now. They’ve won four leagues out of five! You can’t be booing. I’m always with the fans, but you can’t be booing the players after that.” To be fair to the City supporters, it wasn’t the entire stadium, so let’s not tar everyone. A loud minority. But more than loud enough to be notable, and also startle co-commentator Gary Neville, who reacted with no little surprise.
Half-time postbag. “It is remarkable how true Jonathan Wilson’s insight into Guardiola teams conceding goals in bursts holds, years and years after he first made it. Surely Guardiola has thought about this too, and yet here we are” – Kári Tulinius
“Haaland is wasted at City. He’s not being best used waiting for pass 105 after five minutes of slow robotic possession. He should be running riot, tearing defenders a new one. An agent of chaos. Over Guardiola’s dead body. It’s a big mistake” – Brendan Murphy
“It’s business as usual” – Paul Romney
The reigning champions are booed off! Tough crowd.
Kane nearly bursts clear down the middle but can’t get past Stones. The ball pings off to the right flank. Kulusevski advances it into the box. Kane block tackles Rodri near the byline to the right of goal and gets up. He hits a fierce cross-cum-shot that Ederson can only parry at his near post. The ball pings up to Emerson, who neatly nuts a header into the net from close range! Wow!
45 min: On the touchline, Pep Guardiola drops to his haunches and stares at the floor awhile, before springing back up and spinning around in frustration. And he’ll be doubly annoyed now, because …
Disaster for Ederson! His careless pass out from the back towards Rodri puts his team-mate under all sorts of pressure. Rodri pokes the ball to his right, with Bentancur lurking. It rolls straight to Kulusevski, who takes a touch before dispatching a low drive across the clumsy keeper and into the bottom left! Spurs lead! Great news for Arsenal!
43 min: Haaland suddenly comes to life. First up, Ake wedges a long pass down the left channel. Haaland is free, but can’t round Lloris, who blocks then punches the loose ball clear. Then Rodri curls in from the right. Lloris comes out but doesn’t get to the ball. Haaland rises in the middle, but loops his header over the bar. The best chance of the match so far. Frustration written all across Haaland’s face.
41 min: Kulusevski probes down the right only to lose out in a tussle with Gundogan. He wants a free kick. Gundogan isn’t best pleased that Kulusevski has gone to ground. Nobody happy. We move on.
39 min: … so having said that, City go up the other end and nearly open the scoring, Lewis buying a ticket for the raffle from 25 yards, his low drive nearly bagatelling its way into the bottom right. Lloris gets down well to block with a strong hand.
38 min: Haaland heads the corner clear. Some blessed relief for City, who haven’t been on the rack exactly, but are having a few questions asked of them.
37 min: Palpable anxiety spreads through the Etihad as Spurs continue to pin City back. Another corner won on the right. The visitors load the box. Perisic to take.
36 min: Spurs are growing into this game. Davies makes good down the left and stands one up to the far post. Son rises but his header, intended for the top right, flicks off Ake and becomes easy pickings for Ederson.
35 min: Mahrez’s careless pass infield nearly gives Kane a chance to race clear down the left channel. Lewis reads the danger, sticking out a telescopic leg to guide the ball back to his keeper. But Spurs soon come again, Emerson winning a corner down the right. Perisic swings it in. Ederson comes for it and fumbles, but eventually the loose ball is battered clear.
33 min: Kane crosses from the right. Son rises but can’t guide a header goalwards. Stones gets in the road and the ball deflects out for a goal kick. There’s an enjoyable intensity to this.
31 min: Hojbjerg chases Lewis through the centre circle. Lewis falls, then Hojbjerg lands awkwardly on the young City star, studding his leg. Accidental or not? The referee shows a yellow, so make of that what you will.
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Manchester City 4-2 Tottenham: Premier League – live reaction
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