Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur: Match Report

VAR had the final say in a Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur match and not for the first time as Spurs earned a well-deserved point against the Premier League Champions.

Mauricio Pochettino made one change heading into the game with Manchester City with Lucas Moura dropping out of the side for Christian Eriksen after his impressive second-half performance in the previous Premier League fixture with Aston Villa.

Manchester City started well, dominating possession from the outset and Spurs struggled to really get a foothold of the game in the early stages. Kevin De Bruyne was instrumental in the way Man City were set out and the Spurs midfield couldn’t get anywhere near him and Tottenham Hotspur fans knew they’d be in for a tough evening against a rampant City side. Twenty minutes into the game and Manchester City had taken the lead through Raheem Sterling who’s started the season in tremendous fashion with a lovely cushioned header past Hugo Lloris. Spurs looked a little dejected but their character shone through as Erik Lamela hit back just three minutes later with a curling shot from outside the box which caught City keeper Ederson out of position which stunned the Etihad Stadium as Spurs had failed to lay a glove on City up until then. Manchester City continued to pile on the pressure through Pep Guardiola’s style of play and they retook the lead through a bleach-blonde Sergio Aguero as he got on the end of a sumptuous Kevin De Bruyne cross from the right. Spurs went in and the break 2-1 down and probably had no complaints at the score line.

The second half got underway with more of the same from Manchester City, with total domination of possession as Spurs were organised and kept their shape. In the 55th minute, Mauricio Pochettino decided to make a change and introduce Lucas Moura to the game for Harry Winks and what a stroke of genius it was from the Spurs gaffer. Less than 60 seconds later, Lucas Moura sprung into the air to head home from a Spurs corner. It was an accomplished finish from Lucas Moura who did well to even get anything on the cross considering his size. Spurs were very much back in the game at 2-2. Despite their dominance, Spurs have always found a way to score against Manchester City in recent years which is encouraging if Spurs want to table a title bid.

It wasn’t until stoppage time until the real controversy hit the Etihad Stadium. Gabriel Jesus fired home for Manchester City in stoppage time and City looked to have clinched all three points in the most agonising fashion for Spurs. That was until Michael Oliver signalled for VAR and that the goal wouldn’t stand. A ‘handball’ from Aymeric Laporte in the build-up to the goal meant the goal was chalked off. The new handball states that if an attacker handles the ball in the build up to a goal, whether that be intentional or unintentional then the goal will be ruled out. Wolves had a goal disallowed for the same reason the previous weekend, where Sheffield United’s goal stood even with a handball in the lead up. It’s those inconsistencies that players and fans that are finding so frustrating. It worked in Spurs favour this week but no doubt it will go against Spurs in the future to which we will all feel hard done by. Officials need to iron out these inconsistencies for fans to get on board with VAR fully. It’s taking away the purest thing in football that fans can experience and that’s the elation of celebrating a goal. The embrace with fans you don’t even know, that special feeling is being taken away from the game and we think it’s wrong but after Saturday, we weren’t complaining.

Man of the Match: Lucas Moura

Lucas Moura came on and within seconds he’d got himself on the scoresheet to draw Spurs level. That kind of impact in such a huge game is commendable and will surely give Mauricio Pochettino a selection headache going into the next fixture – just as Christian Eriksen did with his performance against Aston Villa.

Poch’s Thoughts

Mauricio Pochettino: “I’m very pleased with a point but also know we need to improve. We are in a process where we need to improve in all areas and the team is going to improve step by step, but we need time.

“It was an unbelievable goal by Lucas. Always when you play a team like Manchester City, you have to play your best.

“We need to accept that VAR. I was a little bit critical of VAR but now we have to accept the rules. Now it benefits us. No doubt it won’t benefit us at other times. It’s a rule we need to accept.”

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