FA Premier League
Sunday 11 November 2012, 13.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic (Maicon 57), Clichy, Y Toure, Barry, Kolarov, Silva, Tevez (Dzeko 73), Aguero (Garcia 90)
Unused: Pantilimon, K Toure, Razak, Sinclair
Goals: Aguero (65), Dzeko (88)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Man of the Match: Gael Clichy
City began the game the brighter, but were struggling to forge any good goalscoring opportunities against a very stubborn Tottenham side. Several balls over the top ran through to Friedel as the midfield looked for the runs of Tevez and Aguero, while Nastasic flicked a header across goal from a corner, but there was nobody there to knock it into the net for the home side. Kolarov tried a shot from long range from a free kick, but it was simple for Friedel.
Despite the dominance from the hosts, it was the visitors who went ahead. Aguero gave away a free kick on the right flank and it was whipped into the centre from the dead ball. Caulker got to the cross ahead of the defence and nodded it at goal. Hart got two hands to it, but could only palm it into the side netting. It was quite a soft goal to concede and another from a set piece.
For the next few minutes, City were rattled and had seemingly lost their heads. Huddlestone tried an effort from range that he drilled just inches wide of Hart’s right hand post, after some good work by Adebayor to skip away from Zabaleta in the box.
At the other end, there were big shouts for a penalty as Gallas appeared to handle the ball in the box from an Aguero spin and shot, but the claims were waved away by the referee. It was the same result a few moments later when Zabaleta was blocked off in the box, but that claim would have been a harsher penalty than the first.
With half time approaching, City should have gone in level. First, Aguero skied a shot from the edge of the box as he picked up a loose ball from some poor defending from the visitors. Then Tevez side-footed a one-on-one straight at Friedel, after he was played through by Silva. It really should have been the equaliser, but the home side went into the break a goal down.
Early in the second half, Roberto Mancini made a vital decision that changed the game. He switched to 3-5-2, introducing Maicon as a right-wing-back and moving Zabaleta and Clichy inside. The change was bold and it worked, giving the hosts more control of the ball in offensive areas. It soon paid off: Yaya Toure burst forward and the ball found its way to Silva. He slid it to Aguero, who took it onto his left foot and rolled it into the far corner of the goal.
City took the game to Tottenham following the equaliser. Maicon smashed a shot across goal and was unlucky to see nobody had gambled at the back post to touch it in. Tevez fired a shot just wide of the post as the home side looked to get themselves in front.
Tottenham, though, were still dangerous on the break: Bale stole the ball in the City half and drove at goal, leaving Hart to make a good save and push the effort away. Clichy was in the right place to boot the ball clear, over his own head. A moment of defensive slackness almost cost the hosts their hard work.
Silva latched on to a neat through ball from Aguero and skipped inside the challenge, as City looked to get themselves in front. He cut onto his left foot and tried to drill the ball into the bottom corner, but he skewed it slightly and it dribbled wide. Aguero then found himself on a one-on-one with Friedel and the American blocked the initial shot, with the Argentine unable to steer the rebound past the floor goalkeeper. It was looking like it might not be City’s day.
But City’s hard work did pay off. With Dzeko on for Tevez and with just a few minutes to go until added time, the substitute provided another crucial goal from the bench. He was just onside from a ball over the top and brilliantly smashed a shot into the back of the net, over Friedel, with his left foot.
It was another game that City had had to work hard to win and another game where the blues needed to come from behind. But it’s something City have learnt how to do and it keeps them within touching distance of the top of the Premier League.