Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur – Match Review

Mario Balotelli came off the bench to score an injury time penalty give Manchester City’s title ambitions a major boost as they beat Tottenham in a pulsating encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

A drab and goalless first half came to life after the break as City raced into the lead with two goal lead courtesy of quick fire strikes from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott only for Spurs to peg them back almost immediately. Jermaine Defoe halved the deficit within 90 seconds before Gareth Bale levelled proceedings to complete an astonishing turnaround in 10 frantic second half minutes. With the game poised on a knife edge the visitors sat back as Roberto Mancini’s men poured forward in search of a winner. It was left to Balotelli to provide it in the fifth minute of added on time stroking home from the spot after he’d been fouled by Ledley King. Harry Redknapp was incensed that the Italian was still on the pitch after his innocuous stamp on Scott Parker went unnoticed by referee Howard Webb as Spurs’ title challenge took a massive hit. The league leaders, on the other hand, stretched their lead over rivals United to six-points ahead of the Red Devil’s trip to Arsenal later in the day.

It was an important win for City and in particular Mancini who was under pressure following Redknapp’s comments earlier in the week stating the Italian boss could face the sack if the title wasn’t delivered to the Etihad in May. He certainly won’t be happy with the way his side played in the first half as Tottenham tried to make the most of their early dominance. The speed of Bale down the left and he would have been celebrating an assist if his low whipped cross had been converted by Defoe at the back post. Still, the hosts were always dangerous whenever they managed to attack and Sergio Aguero should have given them the lead but could only fire wide from six-yard before Scott Paker scuffed a 20-yard stroll wide at the other end. Silva then fizzed a low strike wide of Brad Friedel’s post after good work from Aguero before the Argentinean saw an effort of his own saved well by Spurs’ veteran keeper. That was as good as it got in a cagey first forty five minutes with no one anticipating the storm that was brewing as both teams came out after the break.

Nasri was the man to finally break the deadlock 10 minutes after the restart blasting home after being found by a precision pass from Silva in the games first real moment of quality. Within three minutes the advantage was doubled as Edin Dzeko flicked a Nasri corner on to Lescott who pounced to bundle the ball past Friedel and put City in control. It looked as if the Spurs supporters were in for a repeat of the 5-1 thrashing they suffered at White Hart Lane back in September but to their credit Redknapp’s men showed incredible resolve to haul themselves back into the game. Barely 90 seconds after the hosts’ second goal the North Londoners were back in it as Defoe seized upon a mistake from from Stefan Savic to latch onto Younes Kaboul’s long ball, round Joe Hart and roll into an empty net. It got even better just after the hour as Bale bent a delicious first time effort into the top corner after being teed up by Aaron Lennon who has skipped inside Micah Richards far too easily. The visitors then opted to sit back as the league leaders attacked with vigour in search of a winner with Mancini throwing Balotelli into the mix with just minutes after the equaliser. It didn’t take the Italian long to court controversy as Parker blocked his 20-yard striker before appearing to catch the midfielder with his boot in the aftermath as Spurs appealed vehemently. Defoe then narrowly missed out on connecting with Bales fizzing cross before Balotelli tumbled in the box under a challenge from King to fire home from 12-yards to bring the contest to an exhilarating conclusion.