A satisfying 2-1 win saw Spurs keep the race for a place in the Europa
League going until the final day of the season and create a new record
for the least home goals conceded in a league season, but it was the
nature of the victory which was somewhat surprising.
A penalty out of nothing is something Spurs
are not usually the recipient of and it was perhaps welcome after being
on the end of a large number of contentious decisions.
And in the first half, Tottenham's play
deserved more that their one goal lead at half time, with some fine
passing and movement, but lacking the finish as as so often been the way
Manchester City failed to trouble
Heurelho Gomes in the first half, with his only work coming when Caicedo
hit a weak shot straight at him in the 22nd minute and the play was
generally towards the City goalkeeper Shay Given. Defoe's shot
after a rebound found the net, but was ruled out for offside inside the
first minute, with the little Spurs forward testing Given with a low
shot through some legs, only for the keeper to fingertip the ball around
the post low down to his left.
Jermaine Jenas slid in to take the ball
off Elano, just as he looked like he was going to shoot and showed why
the defensive record is so good, with the midfield getting back to help
out the back four. But at the other end, it was Pavlyuchenko who
was next testing Given, who saved, but the ball went wide for Defoe to
cross back in, but there was no Tottenham head to meet the ball.
With 18 minutes gone, Tom Huddlestone's
corner was well met by Ledley King's head and his downward effort was
well saved on the line by Given, but ten minutes later, it was
Huddlestone again, this time popping up on the right, to play in a low
cross into the six yard box, which found Defoe running in and slotting
the ball past the City keeper with a cheeky back-heel. it was a
well worked move to create space on the right for the cross and a
well-timed run by JD to meet the ball as it came in.
I feel it will be a mistake to let Tom
Huddlestone leave the club. His range of passing is unequalled and
for his weaknesses, his presence in the side is one which is beneficial
rather than detrimental. He may have to have helpers alongside
him, such as Palacios or Jenas to give legs to the midfield, but he is
well worth his place, such is his accuracy in setting up chances.
Take the incident five minutes after the goal. he got the ball,
powered down the left, cut back as Richards tried to challenge and as he
was almost falling, dinked an immaculate ball over Dunne's head for
Robbie Keane to chest down and just fail to make a good contact on the
A number of times the ball fizzed across
the City six yard box from the left with Jenas' cross failing to find
anyone on the end of it and Assou-Ekotto got one beyond Dunne, but the
arrival of the ball seemed to surprise Keane, who could not convert from
close range, when it looked easier to score. BAE was on the end of
two heavy challenges from substitute Zabaleta within a couple of minutes
and he found his way into Halsey's book for the sliding tackle that took
the Spurs left back out as he got away down the left.
The only other bit of action of the half
was when Jermaine Defoe was tackled and he slid into the linesman and
took him out, requiring medical attention and the stretcher was called
but not needed, although I think he was replaced at half-time by Stuart
Atwell !! Another change at half-time saw Alan Hutton come on for
Jonathan Woodgate, who must have been injured and this allowed Vedran
Corluka to step inside to join King in the middle.
Soon after the restart Onuoha clashed
with Pav and the Russian needed some attention to a knock on the head,
but he returned to the fray. It sparked a bit of a revival for
City, with Ledley doing well to push a promising attack by the visitors
wide of the goal and when Caicedo was put through on goal, his lame chip
was easily gathered by Gomes. The Ecuadorian missed another chance
when he hit a shot very wide after Zabaleta played him in. it was
lucky for Spurs that City didn't have their shooting boots on during
this period, but when Hughes took off Caicedo and Petrov, to bring on
Benjani and Bojinov on the hour, things changed, although in the long
run, not always for the better.
There was a bit of a panic a couple of
minutes after when Gomes came for a catch or punch, but failed to get to
it over a couple of forwards, leaving it loose in the area, but luckily
it fell to Richard Dunne, who hit his shot off target. Then in the
65th minute, City equalised. A nothing ball was chipped into the
Tottenham box by Ireland and as Benjani jumped for it with Corluka, it
dropped down and Bojinov got to it first to flash it past Gomes and
score the first goal against Spurs at home since Beattie got a
consolation for Stoke back in January.
Jenas pulled up with an injury and on
came Didier Zokora to replace him in midfield and his energy helped
Spurs at this time, as City were pushing on. Hutton got a good
header in as Benjani looked like he was going to get on the end of
Kompany's cross in the 73rd minute, but a minute later, the Scots
full-back was at the other end, where he put in a low cross from the
right which Pavlyuchenko screwed wide from five yards out when it looked
easier to score. Luckily, he had been flagged offside, so it
didn't matter anyway. Shortly after, Harry Redknapp brought on
Fraizer Campbell for Roman, as he went for the winner.
That nearly came at the other end, when
Zabaleta created a chance for Bojinov, but his shot was well stopped by
Gomes, although he couldn't hold it and Hutton had to kick the ball to
safety before a City player could get there. in the 83rd minute, a
long ball found Luka Modric, who had a quiet second half, where he
showed how wrong Wenger had been about his lack of strength to play in
the Premier League, as he held off defenders and got a shot in that went
A minute later, a move on the right lead
to the winning goal. Hutton and Defoe linked after the striker had
done well to hold off the physical attention he was getting from Micah
Richards, leading to him having a shot on goal that Given saved.
As the shot came in, Richards had got back to mark Campbell who was
making a run into the box. As he did so, Richards fell on top of
him and Halsey pointed to the spot. It wasn't the first time the
City defender had done this during the game, but he had got away with it
until then. No card for him, which was surprising, but Keane
accepted the penalty and with his Republic of Ireland team-mate Given in
goal, coolly waited until he had gone one way and then stuck the ball
into the opposite side of the goal. That made it 2-1 in the 86th
Noel Gallagher appeared out of his box,
where a Spurs security guard had advised him to retreat to after the
"banter" he was engaged in got a bit heated and this time he good
humouredly took the stick of his side going behind.
With seconds of normal time remaining, it
looked as though Manchester City might get a leveller, with Kompany
heading Zabaleta's corner at goal and looking on the way in, until
substitute Benjani headed it the other way, but over the bar. It
was the break that Tottenham needed to see out the game and kept the
ball well for added time and then moved it up to the other end.
Modric showed great skill to get past a couple of City defenders and
then pulled the ball back low for Defoe to fire in another shot, but
this time it went wide.
The final whistle blew and the home part
of the season seemed over all too quickly. With another home win,
the only home defeat under Redknapp came in one of his early games to
Everton and that confidence had taken the team to the brink of Europe.
Whether the run to get a place in the Europa League will be just a
little too late, we will have to wait until next Sunday to find out.
But to take it to the wire after the start Spurs had is an achievement