Manchester City have beaten Tottenham 1-0 in a tense showdown at Wembley and return to the top of the Premier League table.
Ex-Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez, in his first match since the tragedy at his former club, gave City an early lead that they never seriously looked like relinquishing, despite one or two nervous moments as Spurs went for broke in the final moments.
AS IT HAPPENED: Tottenham 0 Man City 1
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It was a far from polished performance from City however.
Despite dominating much of the match, they were profligate up front and they looked uncharacteristically shaky at the back whenever Spurs counter-attacked, with Benjamin Mendy in particular given a torrid night by Moussa Sissoko and Kieran Trippier.
In the end, that lack of a killer blow meant Pep Guardiola’s side spent the final 15 minutes clinging onto their slender lead as Tottenham laid siege to City’s goal.
That Spurs couldn’t take advantage was down to their own nerves and composure in the final third, summed up when Erik Lamela blazed over with 10 minutes to go.
The pitch looked in a sorry state following an NFL match on Sunday – it had been jokingly described as ‘two sandbanks flanking a long trench‘ – but despite looking awful, it wasn’t a major factor in the outcome of the match.
Crucial to getting anything against Guardiola’s side is strong start, so Mauricio Pochettino will have been pulling his hair out when City took the lead after five minutes.
Kieran Trippier was caught out by a simple long ball from Ederson, and then compounded his error by allowing Raheem Sterling to cut past him in the box. The England winger then drew Hugo Lloris out beyond his near post and found Mahrez, who slammed home a simple opener.
However to their credit, Tottenham bounced back well. Harry Kane sent a vicious long-range shot millimetres over Ederson’s bar, before Toby Alderweireld forced a save from the keeper at a corner.
The match was being played at a frantic pace, and Sterling almost doubled City’s advantage but Alderweireld got in a crucial block to preserve Spurs’ deficit. Bernardo Silva then hit the side netting following more good work from Sterling.
Spurs were a threat on the counter, with Sissoko getting behind Mendy down the right on several occasions and he had Tottenham’s best to that point; but after bursting into the box he hesitated on the ball, allowing Fernandinho to cut out his attempted ball to Erik Lamela.
Lloris then needed a strong hand to push a powerful Mahrez shot onto the post and then safety.
Kane blew a glorious opportunity to get Spurs back level when Lamela found him in acres of space in the right channel, but a heavy touch allowed Ederson to race off his line and block his shot.
City attempted to crank the pressure up in the second half but still couldn’t deliver the Coup de Grace.
David Silva of all people blew perhaps their best chance when he opted not to shoot first time from Bernardo Silva’s pull back, but his touch was poor. Although he recycled possession back to Sterling, the winger’s shot was blocked on the line.
Aguero then squandered City’s next chance when he was afforded plenty of space by Tottenham’s defence, but shot straight at Lloris.
With every chance they survived, Tottenham began to believe they could snatch something from the match and went for broke as Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen all came on to try and turn the game their way.
But although they dominated the final 15 minutes and stretched City’s defence, their only real chance came when Alli found Lamela in space in the box, but the Argentine couldn’t test Ederson.
The result sees City leapfrog Liverpool to return to the top of the Premier League table, while Spurs remain in fifth, five points further back.