Edin Dzeko ensured that Manchester City kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the EPL with a late winner in a 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.
As was the case with United’s win at Aston Villa the day before, City had to come from behind to secure a late win and stay within two points of the leaders after Sergio Aguero cancelled out Steven Caulker’s opener for Tottenham.
The result extended City’s remarkable unbeaten home record in the Premier League to 35 games — a sequence dating back nearly two years.
It also offered respite for manager Roberto Mancini, who had taken the bold decision to leave controversial forward Mario Balotelli out of his squad for the game.
Aguero struck on 65 minutes with a polished example of finishing, latching onto a loose ball and committing two defenders before rolling the ball into the Spurs goal from six yards. And with just two minutes remaining, all three points went to City as David Silva played a beautifully judged pass to substitute Dzeko, who found the back of the Tottenham net with a superb shot on the turn.
Spurs had taken a first-half lead on 21 minutes through Caulker, although it owed as much to poor defending and a rare slip from England goalkeeper Joe Hart as impressive finishing. Aguero was ruled to have fouled Aaron Lennon and Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick from the right flank was met by centre-back Caulker, the ball hitting Hart firmly in the chest and then squirming agonisingly over the line.
It was a piece of defending in keeping with City's recent form, particularly in Europe, but Mancini had cause to go in at the half-time interval feeling aggrieved at referee Michael Oliver, who turned down two strong penalty appeals.
Two minutes after the opening goal, Williams Gallas appeared to handle as Aguero attempted to flick the ball forward in the Spurs area and, late in the half, Huddlestone body-checked Pablo Zabaleta.
Huddlestone drilled a low, hard shot inches wide of the left-hand post as Spurs sought to extend their lead but City began to look more threatening as the first half wore on.
In quick succession, Gareth Barry shot wide, Aguero hurried a shot off target, Carlos Tevez shot directly at Brad Friedel, and, in injury time, Silva’s lay-off set up Zabaleta, whose six-yard shot was, again, straight at the Tottenham keeper.
City failed to carry that impetus into the second half, however, with Aguero wasting the best chance of the early exchanges when he beat the offside trap but fell over trying to control Yaya Toure’s pass.
After Toure had shot into the side netting, the tactic paid dividends, with Aguero’s equaliser following just before the midpoint of the second period.
Thereafter, Aguero was denied by an excellent double save from Friedel after being played in by Dzeko, who had the final say in the 88th minute.