Who said life is dull ? Goals, red cards and three more points, it
was a good 2-1 win for Spurs at Eastlands, as Manchester City
self-destructed after taking the lead. It was a win that took
Spurs out of the bottom three again, but this was set against a last
twenty minute defensive display that saw Heurelho Gomes come to the
It all started quite
quietly, with Tottenham seemingly in control of the twin threat of
Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips. A loose ball was walloped over
the bar by Woodgate and Huddlestone hit a shot along the wet turf but
Hart had little trouble in fielding it from 30 yards. Spurs went
even closer when Ledley King played the ball out of defence up to
Jermaine Jenas and his pass across the face of the box to Luke Modric
was hit first time, leaving Hart scrambling across his line to see the
ball go just past the post in the 10th minute.
With Assou-Ekotto pushing too far forward
or too far infield, it left space on the right flank of City's side and
they exploited this with Vassell getting in beyond him, but he
could not finish. The next time Benoit was dragged inside in the
15th minute, Wright-Phillips nut-megged him to set up Vassell and his
cross-shot was palmed out by Gomes, right into the middle of the goal,
where Robinho was running on and he slid it into the net. It was
not quite against the run of play, but Spurs had not looked under
pressure until that time.
Things started to turn two minutes after
the goal, when Gelson Fernandes chopped Modric down from behind without
making any intent to get the ball. The conditions were
deteriorating, but it was the same for both sides, as the water started
to settle on the surface. It should have made for slick passing
and shots zipping off the grass, but the next one that arrived was a
rising effort from Ireland, which Heurelho tipped aside and Woodgate
With the ball finding it's way up the
field to David Bentley, Gelson came flying in late and high on the
winger and with the ball nowhere near his challenge, Mike Dean pulled
out another yellow and then a red with only 26 minutes gone.
Immediately, Modric was pushed further forward to put some pressure on
the City defence and his shot in the 27th minute brought a finger-tip
save from Joe Hart at the expense of a corner. As usual, nothing
came from it, but a minute later, Luka was wide on the left and played a
long ball for Darren Bent, which looked as though it would be cut out by
Richard Dunne, but the Irishman got it all wrong as it dipped on him and
shot off the greasy turf, leaving the Spurs striker through. He
didn't rush his shot, as the confidence that is coursing through his
veins allowed him the time to push it to the left of Micah Richards and
then hit his shot past the defender and keeper to draw Tottenham level.
It was a piece of finishing only a man in
form would be capable of and Bent was just that man. Darren had
another chance before half-time from a tight angle and then Bentley
wriggled through three players to make his way into the penalty area,
but then blasted his effort too high, when a ball across the box might
have been the better bet.
So into the break at 1-1 with the sides
11-10. Little did we know what would come in the second half.
It started with Assou-Ekotto picking up a needless yellow card and
Ledley picked up one later on his 250th appearance for the club.
Tottenham were moving the ball around well, but there was no cutting
edge to finish the possession they enjoyed. After about ten
minutes of the half, City started to believe they could get something
from the game.
Firstly, Shaun Wright-Phillips got away
and into the area, but his weak shot was straight at Gomes, then a long
free-kick to the far post was won by Dunne and his header hit Gomes at
point blank range, requiring Woodgate to knock the ball out for a corner
as it dropped in front of goal. It was strange that this period of
pressure preceeded the second Tottenham goal.
Huddlestone produced a long-range pass to
Jenas, waiting just inside the D on the edge of the City area. The
midfielder held the ball until Bent had made a run wide right of his
marker and the slip pass was neatly steered into the net in off the post
across the keeper. It was not the fiercest hit shot, but the rich
vein of form has given Darren the ability to pass the ball into the net,
whereas before, his anxiety to score might have made him blast it.
Spurs were starting to take the game to
City once more. A neat build-up saw Bentley set-up Huddlestone to
strike a shot cleanly from 25 yards out that flew along the ground, but
Hart was right behind it. Then the home side started to push on,
after Spurs had brought on Lennon for Modric. Benjani put a header
wide, then a quickly taken free-kick caught Spurs out and Robinho hit a
low bouncing shot from 25 yards that popped up off the ground to make
Gomes dive and push it wide for a corner with a good save. Then,
with fifteen minutes to go, the ball was played to the right side of the
Spurs box and Ireland found space on Assou-Ekotto's side of the pitch
and rifled a volley that looked like it would rip into the net, but
Gomes managed to beat it away at his near post.
From the corner, Robinho was alone in the
six yard box, but he could only just get something on it and it was not
enough to divert it into the goal, with the ball going a yard wide.
Spurs were looking to hit the light blues on the break and when Bent was
played through, Dunne was the wrong side of him and barged him in the
back as he was bearing down on goal and the referee had no option but to
show him a red card, as he was the last man, with the protestations that
the conditions were not taken into consideration having little bearing
on the City captain's challenge.
So the home side were down to nine men,
but there was no benefit from the free-kick, as Bentley curled it
comfortably into Hart's arms. As the game want to the other end,
Zabaleta slipped past Assou-Ekotto and the Frenchman's challenge was
worthy of another yellow and thus he walked when Dean showed a red card
for the third time.
City threw everything to try and get an
equaliser, but it was Tottenham who nearly took the glory at the end
with Gomes' long throw out to Bent, playing in Lennon on the left and he
returned the favour, but the striker could not get his second hat-trick
of the week, as his shot was blocked. From the corner, it was
taken short to try and waste time, but the final whistle blew and the
three points were Tottenham's.
What a turn-around in fortunes it has
been for both clubs. Spurs in the doldrums and City in the cash,
but now seemingly heading in different directions. But then again, both
clubs have a history of heroic failure ... although on this occasion, it
was confined to the home team, who were booed off by some sections of