Haaland brace dents North London dreams

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Report

Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Manchester City 

Erling Haaland’s second-half brace was enough to see off hosts Spurs and greatly enhance Manchester City’s Premier League title charge at the expense of the Lilywhites North London neighbours, Arsenal.

CS015 Tottenham v Man CityCity’s Phil Foden and Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg tussle (Rob Newell CameraSport)

Spurs boss, Ange Postecoglou addressed the strange situation his side found themselves in, with their bitter local rivals needing favour: “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about sport in that way,” he explained. 

“Like I said, there’s a pretty simple notion to this – there’s a game of football tomorrow night. What do you think is going to happen? What do you think we’re going to do as a team? Or any team on this planet. Aren’t we just going to try and win? 

“It’s a simple, basic premise. Now how that makes people feel, I’m not really fussed. I don’t really care. I’d hate to think that anyone will think we’ll go out there tomorrow with anything other than trying to measure ourselves against a top team and maybe win a game of football that’s consequential. 

“How are we ever going to become a team that wins things if, in the big games, we shy away from it? Why would we shy away from a challenge tomorrow that exists? 

“Look, I get it. Your straw poll of Arsenal fans if it’s correct, and if we walk out to fifty per cent boos tomorrow and fifty per cent cheering, but I think that’s highly unlikely.”

Postecoglou made three changes to the side that started the Lilywhites 2-1 win over Burnley four days previous, with Radu Dragusin, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Rodrigo Bentancur coming in for Oliver Skipp, Yves Bissouma and Dejan Kulusevski.

Bentancur forced Ederson into an early save. Meanwhile, Guglielmo Vicario produced a superb one-handed stop to deny Phil Foden as Spurs, who started brightly, looked to stifle suggestions from N5 that they’d roll over. 

Indeed, Tottenham’s high-pressing game was troubling the champions. Ederson shovelled behind Brennan Johnson’s attempt. Josko Gvardiol fired over as City countered in an otherwise well-contested opening period.

Vicario averted the danger after Spurs had been caught playing out from the back allowing Kevin De Bruyne a sight of goal. Ederson was again called into action, blocking from Heung-min Son at close quarters.

CS016 Tottenham v Man CityCS016 Tottenham v Man CityTottenham James Maddison dashes clear of City’s Rodri (Rob Newell CameraSport)

But six minutes after the restart, City took the lead. Foden’s cross was recycled, and de Bruyne crossed for Haaland to convert from close range.

Ederson was left groggy after a clattering from Cristian Romero. The Brazilian was replaced shortly after by Stefan Ortega, while de Bruyne was swapped for Jeremy Doku, who immediately tested Vicario with an angled effort.

In the latter stages, Ortega stuck out a boot to deny Son after City had been caught dawdling and the South Korean was sent clear. And having survived that scare, City broke out, Doku was felled by Pedro Porro, and Haaland thumped home the resulting spot-kick. 

Tottenham can’t be accused by their nearest and dearest. Their performance was honest, but ultimately short of the quality which now looks likely to hand City their fourth-successive Premier League title and their sixth in seven years.

Tottenham Hotspur conclude their Premier League campaign on Sunday, May 19, when they face Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (4pm).

Tottenham Hotspur:  Vicario, Pedro Porro, Romero, Dragusin, van de Ven, Hojbjerg (Skipp 85′), Bentancur (Kulusevski 55′), Sarr (Lo Celso 85′), Maddison (Moore 90+2′), Son (Capt), Johnson Subs not used: Austin, Royal, Hall, Bryan, Scarlett

Booked: Bentancur (foul), Sarr (foul), Romero (foul), Foden (foul), Silva (foul)

Goals: None

Manchester City: Ederson (Ortega 69′), Walker (Capt), Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol, Rodrigo, Kovacic, De Bruyne Doku 69′), Bernardo, Foden, Haaland (Alvarez 90+5′) Subs not used: Stones, Ake, Grealish, Nunes, Bobb, Lewis

Booked: Kovacic (foul)

Goals: Haaland 51′, 90+1′ (penalty)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Assistants: Simon Bennett and Dan Robathan

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

VAR: Michael Salisbury

Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger

Attendance: 61,065

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