Tottenham fight back to hold Man City in six-goal thriller

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Tottenham players stun Man City
Tottenham players stun Man City

Tottenham midfielder Dejan Kulusevski’s 90th-minute header denied Manchester City victory in a breathless six-goal thriller at Etihad Stadium.

City thought they had won it nine minutes from time when Jack Grealish turned home Erling Haaland’s cross for his first goal since April.

But Tottenham snatched a point from a match that ended in controversy as referee Simon Hooper blew for a foul on Erling Haaland, who had already shrugged off the effects of Emerson Royal’s tackle and chipped a pass to Grealish which seemed to set the England man clear.

Haaland was still complaining long after the final whistle and responded to something said from the Tottenham bench before furiously marching down the tunnel.

It was fitting both sides got something out of the game given how entertaining it had been.

Tottenham led early through Son Heung-min, only for the Tottenham skipper to divert Julian Alvarez’s cross into his own net three minutes later.

Phil Foden finished off a slick City attack to put the hosts in front at the break.

Giovani Lo Celso pulled Tottenham level with an excellent curling effort from the edge of the area midway through the second half, but Yves Bissouma was soon punished for losing possession close to the Spurs area.

Foden fed Haaland, who delivered the low cross for Grealish to convert.

Kulusevski’s late intervention – a mix of head and shoulder sending the ball in off the bar – ensured Tottenham avoided a fourth successive Premier League defeat, with Ange Postecoglou’s side fifth on 27 points, three behind champions City, who drop to third.

Attack, attack, attack

As predicted, there could be no complaints about the excitement value of a contest that pitted together two managers completely committed to an expansive game.

By half-time, the tally stood at three goals, two shots that hit the woodwork, 14 shots and 10 corners. At the final whistle, there had been six goals, 26 shots, 18 corners and no one left complaining about a lack of entertainment.

It really was brilliant stuff, with both sides at their most vulnerable when they were attacking their opponents’ goal.

When observers glibly talk about the Premier League being the ‘best in the world’, they often fail to explain what criteria they are using.

The technical quality, attacking invention and simple desire to score goals in this contest would bring joy to any set of supporters.

Tottenham knew they would not dominate possession, but even under the most severe pressure they tried to play quickly out from the back.

The tactic brought them the opener, as they swept forward from a City corner, with Son shrugging off Jeremy Doku and completing a 40-yard burst by ramming his shot past Ederson.

Only a Ruben Dias interception of a Brennan Johnson cross that was about to be met by Son denied the South Korean a second. Additionally, Son could not contain his fury when Bryan Gil took three touches and then gave the ball away after a rare stray pass from Bernardo Silva invited a first-time pass to the Tottenham captain.

And this was in the first-half period that City dominated.

The second period was more even, but it still came as a surprise on both occasions when Tottenham got themselves level.

The first time was after Son had created the opening for Lo Celso, and the second when Kulusevski met Brennan Johnson’s cross.

Furious Haaland draws a blank

Haaland was genuinely furious as he stormed down the tunnel.

His frustration was obvious to everyone and pity the poor door when he entered the City dressing room.

Hooper’s decision was hasty, but chances are that Haaland was already simmering over his two incredible first-half failures to score.

The Norwegian sent one shot wide from 10 yards when it appeared he had to score with the goal at his mercy. Towards the end of the opening period, Haaland skied a shot over after Alvarez prodded a pass into his path.

Even then, the forward’s reflective reaction was not that of someone who was entirely happy with his lot – and his temper had not improved by the end.

City were still excellent overall and Foden’s goal was a thing of beauty.

In a slick exchange, Haaland played a first-time pass to Doku, who immediately found Alvarez, and he spun round and presented Foden with an invitation to score which the England man immediately accepted.

If there was a moment to sum up the excellence on show, that was it.

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