Throughout June on Typical City, we’re looking at some of the best matches Manchester City have played in the Sheikh Mansour-era. Day by day, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to some of the classic encounters the Blues have had since the 2008 takeover – you can view the rest of the featured games on the Best of the Mansour Era page.
The 2011-12 title winning season is fondly remembered by City fans for several matches throughout the campaign. One of the earliest was a trip to Tottenham, when Harry Redknapp’s team were still a big thorn in the Blues’ side. In one outstanding performance, Roberto Mancini exorcised all of the ghosts and laid down a marker to the club’s rivals for the championship that year…
Tottenham Hotspur 1-5 Manchester City
Sunday 28 August 2011
City: Hart, Zabaleta (Richards 64), Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Toure, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko, Aguero (Savic 75).
Unused: Pantilimon, Milner, Johnson, Tevez, Balotelli
Goals: Dzeko (34, 41, 55, 90+1), Aguero (60)
All eyes were on Manchester City as they faced their first big test of the 2011-12 season. A trip to White Hart Lane was never something the Blues seemed to fancy, and with a dismal record at that ground in the Premier League – and with Tottenham having always been one of the club’s bogey teams – it wasn’t any different at the end of August 2011.
City had begun the campaign well. They were joint top of the table, with six points from their opening two matches, and had scored plenty of goals in dispatching Swansea 4-0 and Bolton 3-2. Nevertheless, Harry Redknapp’s Spurs were a totally different proposition for Roberto Mancini’s side – and there was still a grudge to be settled from the visitors’ point of view. The hatred might have dated back to 1981 for some, with the loss of the FA Cup final replay, while the younger fans still smarted at how the North London team had beaten City to the Champions League in 2010.
While a title challenge would never truly materialise for the home side, they did have eyes for an attempt on top spot early in the season. In the end, it would come down to both City and rivals Manchester United to slog it out, and this match at White Hart Lane was a big indication of how the Blues had kicked on to a level beyond their opponents. City fans were never comfortable travelling there, but in 2011 they saw one of the most comfortable victories they’d ever earn against Spurs.
Samir Nasri was making his debut following his transfer from Arsenal, but the day would belong to Edin Dzeko. A remarkable performance saw the Bosnian score a perfect hat-trick – netting with his left foot, right foot and head – before going on to add a long range effort to his tally in second half stoppage time. It was one of the best performances by a striker in a City shirt.
It started brightly for City. David Silva linked up with Nasri in the middle to find a shooting opportunity, but the effort was blocked by Brad Friedel. The rebound fell agonisingly close to Sergio Aguero – it was near enough to tempt him into a swing for it, but too far away for him to make a proper connection. Nasri followed up and dragged his shot wide.
Silva drew another save from Friedel, firing low across the American’s goal after carrying the ball along the edge of the box, though it was Joe Hart who was really producing the goods at the other end. He’d already tipped a Rafael Van Der Vaart shot around the post when he was called into action from the Dutchman again – this time, palming a free kick behind for a corner.
With just over ten minutes of the half left to play, City stole in front. It had been something of an even game to that point, but the visitors were about to show what happens when a team capitalises on their chances. Spurs were left ruing theirs – especially a blast wide by Gareth Bale, when he had only Hart to beat at the back post – as Dzeko opened the scoring. It follow a lovely one-two between Silva and Nasri, with the Frenchman delivering low for the striker to turn home.
Peter Crouch, City’s tormentor from 18 months previous, had a golden chance to level the count soon after. Van Der Vaart volleyed a cross into the middle, where the England striker dived at it to head towards the back post. It looked like it would nestle into the top corner, as Hart scrambled across to try and keep it out, but the effort flashed wide. It was a let off for City – and one they punished the hosts for.
Almost immediately after, it was 2-0. A Spurs corner was cleared to the edge of the box, where Yaya Toure picked it up and carried it forward. He fed a neat through-ball to Silva and the home side were stretched. The Spaniard picked out Nasri on the left and the midfielder crossed into the centre, where there was only Dzeko breaking. Despite falling backwards and moving the wrong way, the striker was able to divert his header back across goal and into the bottom corner. It was a remarkable effort and left Friedel rooted to the spot.
Ten minutes into the second half, City were pulling away. Spurs had begun the second period on the back foot and allowed Toure far too much room to run in behind on the right flank. When he hit the by-line, he delivered a smashed low cross into the six-yard box – and Dzeko was arrived to slot home for his hat-trick. It had been a masterclass in attacking football, with City showing their opposition how to pull away in a tough game.
On the hour mark, the game was beyond doubt – and Aguero got his customary goal. The striker had very little on when he first got the ball, with his back to goal on the halfway line. A flick to Nasri around the corner, before a spin and run into space, bought the Argentinian some room. It was a brilliant pass to return possession to the striker, though he still had a lot to do when facing up against the Spurs defence. He turned Craig Dawson inside out, before stepping onto his left foot and firing high past Friedel into the top corner from a tight angle.
Spurs got themselves a consolation later in the second half, but it wasn’t going to change the outcome of the match. Jermain Defoe – on as a substitute – forced Hart into a good save, tipping a long range effort over the bar, but a free header by Younes Kaboul from the corner found the net. Defoe was perhaps offside in front of the goalkeeper, but the linesman didn’t flag and Hart didn’t complain.
The icing on the cake, though, came in stoppage time. With City cruising to victory, Dzeko played a cute one-two with Gareth Barry to find himself in a little bit of space on the edge of the box. On his left foot, he side-footed an effort into the top corner of the net, curling it over the goalkeeper. It capped off a fine display and sent the Blues back to the top of the table.
After the match, Mancini was asked if there was anything more he could demand from his players following the brutal win: “Yeah, I need to ask something,” the manager replied. “About the goal that we conceded.”
When he was told that the reaction seemed harsh because his side had been excellent, Mancini continued: “No, I agree with you,” he said. “We played very well. [We played] fantastic football on a difficult pitch against a strong team like Tottenham. But it is my opinion that we should pay more attention in set pieces because it’s the second game that we conceded a goal.”
The manager just laughed when he was asked to comment on Dzeko’s performance. “Nothing,” he said, almost as if he was trying to find the words to describe what had just happened. “It was perfect. It was incredible. He worked for the team, he fought against the defenders, and he scored four goals. I am happy for him because he is a good guy and he deserved to score [his goals].
“He’s not only good in the air, but he can do movement, he can keep the ball, and he can help the team – and score.”
Meanwhile, Dzeko himself was beaming with a smile in his post-match interview. He said he couldn’t have dream to start the season in the form he did: “I have to say no,” the striker commented. “It’s been fantastic, with the team to have nine points after three games and for me to score six goals, it’s amazing.
“I don’t think I ever scored six goals in the first ten, maybe 15, games – and now it’s six in only three.” the Bosnian added.
Written by David Mooney
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