With Advent now under way and the countdown to Christmas now on, Typical City is looking at an incident, player or match specific to the club that corresponds with each date. In today’s edition, David Mooney looks back to when City beat Spurs 1-5 twice in recent seasons…
In the old days, trips to White Hart Lane were always feared by City fans. In fact, one special FA Cup visit there in 2004 was all the club had to show for their efforts against Tottenham for far too long – as they tended not to get more than a solitary point. Kevin Keegan’s record there was better than most since he managed to win a league game, too.
However, when Roberto Mancini took his team to Spurs in the third match of the 2011-12 season, all of that changed. The fans couldn’t have been expecting what they would end up seeing, as the Blues were trying to build on a record of one victory in their previous 14 league trips.
It had been a tight affair to begin with. Samir Nasri was in for the visitors, making his City debut, and he was being roundly booed by the home supporters – but he was making a nuisance of himself in his link-up with David Silva. He laid off the Spaniard for his to shoot, but Brad Friedel palmed it away, and he squared for Gareth Barry to welly one towards the top corner, but it just swerved wide.
In fact, it was probably the hosts who looked the more likely early on. Rafael van der Vaart twice tested Joe Hart. He turned Joleon Lescott to shoot at the Englishman’s near post from the right side of the box, before curling a free kick towards the top corner from the left side. Both were shovelled behind for a corner.
The best chance for the home side came from Gareth Bale, however. Unmarked at the back post, the Welshman booted the ball high and wide from inside the six-yard box as Hart closed him down – he really should have found the net; had he done, what happened next might not have been so dramatic.
Enter Edin Dzeko. Fresh from goals against Swansea on the opening day and Bolton in the second weekend of the season, the Bosnian set about showing City fans what he could do, given the service. It began ten minutes before half time; Nasri got the ball back from Clichy and played a one-two with Silva to break into the box on the left – there he delivered low and Dzeko could tap home with his right food.
The travelling fans would have been happy with a solitary goal lead at half time, given how Peter Crouch was inches away from equalising with a header two minutes after the goal. However, it got better – a Spurs corner set the away side off on the counter attack. It was the same combination for 2-0: Nasri crossed and Dzeko finished, this time heading the ball back over his shoulder into the bottom corner.
Even Friedel wondered how the Bosnian had managed it.
City turned the screw after the break. Ten minutes into the second period, a corner was recovered by Gael Clichy and Barry laid the ball off to Toure, who broke around the outside. His low cross was tapped home by Dzeko again, this time on his left foot – it was a perfect hat-trick.
Sergio Aguero got in on the act on the hour mark. Again it was Nasri with the assist, but the hard work was done by the Argentine. He carried the ball into the box and, as the angle got tighter, he clipped it into the top corner on his left foot, as Friedel floundered.
Younes Kaboul pulled a goal back shortly after, though the City players were unhappy that there was an offside in the play. His header from a corner beat Hart, but Jermaine Defoe was blocking the goalkeeper’s view and he was behind every defender – as the Blues didn’t put men on the posts.
It had to be Dzeko with the final say, though. He carried the ball out of midfield as the game meandered through stoppage time and played a cute one-two with Barry. The midfielder stopped the ball dead on the edge of the box for the Bosnian to run on to and he bent it wonderfully into the top corner of the net, barely adding any power. It was a strike of pure finesse and it left City top of the league.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Dzeko said to City TV afterwards. “To score four goals in such a big game against such a big club away… it’s amazing.”
With such a good performance at White Hart Lane, it would have been very difficult to think that showing could be topped. When Mancini returned there the following season, his side took the lead in the opening minutes but then fell apart in the closing 10, to lose 3-1.
When Manuel Pellegrini refreshed the squad and took them there on his first visit to Spurs, things took another unfamiliar twist. The fans were still at the stage of thinking their side’s big win there might just have been a one off. The Chilean put paid to that.
City travelled there in good form. They’d gone through the winter period on something of a hot streak following a defeat at the Stadium of Light – and they arrived at White Hart Lane having gone unbeaten in 12 league matches, having won 11. They started on the front foot, too.
Aguero may have only played a tiny portion of the first half of the game before departing with injury, but he was one of the most influential players on the pitch. Within ten minutes, he’d waltzed across the Spurs box and sent a shot spinning towards the top corner, but it clipped the post and bounced out, with Hugo Lloris stranded.
Five minutes later, he opened the scoring. Silva slipped a ball through for the Argentine to run on to and, as Lloris came to close the angle, the striker got his foot right the way around the ball and, giving a cheeky glance to see where the goalkeeper was, he dinked the ball past him and it rolled agonisingly over the line for the defenders, trying to recover.
Lloris pulled off a fantastic one-handed save to deny the striker a header, before Aguero flashed an effort across goal with a left-foot volley – that was after he’d had a header cleared off the line.
Tottenham had a goal ruled out for offside, which provided some controversy. Michael Dawson headed in from a free kick and was well onside – but Emmanuel Adebayor, standing beyond the line of defenders where the ball was played, attempted to head the cross and was rightly flagged.
Dzeko won the Blues a penalty in the early stages of the second half, as he broke through and was brought down by Danny Rose. The home fans weren’t happy, feeling the defender played the ball – though he’d had to tackle through the striker to get it – and it was compounded by the referee deciding it was a clear goalscoring opportunity and producing a red card. Yaya Toure sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot.
The game went crazy. Pablo Zabaleta laid off Silva, whose shot looked destined for the net until it was tipped onto the post acrobatically by Lloris, but the rebound fell to Dzeko – and, liking a goal at White Hart Lane, he belted it into the roof of the net. City were leading 3-0 and there was only 55 minutes on the clock.
A messy goal for the home side reduced the deficit, as Etienne Capoue scrambled the ball home after City couldn’t clear their lines from a corner. Though that barely stemmed the tide of the game – and the Blues were still relentless.
With just over ten minutes to play, Fernandinho broke through the midfield and played the ball wide to Stevan Jovetic. The Montenegrin cut back inside on his right foot and, stepping around the challenge from Kyle Walker, he shot and the deflection took it out of reach for Lloris. It was Jovetic’s first Premier League goal.
Dzeko somehow missed a shot at goal from the centre of the six-yard box as the delivery was just behind him, before Jovetic tried to turn the rebound in. Lloris deflected it wide to keep the score at four – but he could do nothing about Vincent Kompany’s finish from the resulting corner. A Dzeko shot was blocked and fell loose in the box, as the goalkeeper reacted to the first effort. It left the captain with an open goal.
After the game, Jovetic was delighted to get off the mark for his club in the league: “It was a great game tonight,” he told City TV. “In the first half we played very well and unfortunately scored just one goal. In the second we scored four and could have scored more. I’m so happy – I’ve had so many bad things behind me and I’m always positive, but I always believe in myself.”
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Written by David Mooney.