Pep Guardiola lauded an unbelievable performance from his Manchester City side after they ended their Tottenham Hotspur Stadium goal drought with a narrow 1-0 away win.
City had failed to score in their previous five trips to Spurs’ home and an FA Cup fourth-round replay looked on the cards when substitute Kevin De Bruyne inexplicably fired wide from 16 yards with eight minutes left.
The breakthrough did finally arrive for the visitors with 88 minutes on the clock when Guglielmo Vicario flapped at De Bruyne’s corner with Ruben Dias in close proximity and Nathan Ake poked home from close range to end the FA Cup holders barren run at Tottenham.
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“Deserved it? I think so but football is about scoring, not conceding and the statistics were really good today,” Guardiola explained.
“If you see the stats from the past when we come here, we could not score and could not win.
“Yeah, we are really pleased of course to win against this team away, score a goal and go through. We defend the title and the way we play, we proved we defend it really well.
“Unbelievable. The performance was top, top class. These players prove again the reason why they have done what they have done in the past.”
City had the ball in the net after five minutes but Oscar Bobb was adjudged to be marginally offside after Vicario had thwarted Foden from close range.
Guardiola’s team continued to press for their maiden goal at Tottenham’s stadium and after Bernardo Silva, De Bruyne and substitute Jeremy Doku all failed to make the most of promising situations late on, Ake produced the goods with two minutes left.
It was a dangerous delivery from De Bruyne which caused panic in the Spurs box on only his third appearance since his lengthy lay-off following a serious hamstring injury sustained last season.
Asked if De Bruyne was fit enough to start, Guardiola said: “He is ready. Ready to play.
“Sooner or later he will play from the beginning, but it’s not just about that. For many reasons we want to protect him and Kevin, today I always knew he was going to create.
“These type of games at the end, it was a little bit more open and we had that feeling. It is important he feels good after his hamstring problem and he made an exceptional corner in the right spot. We knew it, so yeah it’s really good.”
Guardiola also reflected on the news on Friday morning that great rival Jurgen Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of the season and dispelled any talk that he could follow suit.
“I am fine. Still one more year I want to do it and maybe extend (past 2025), so I am fine,” Guardiola insisted.
Meanwhile, opposite number Ange Postecoglou cut a frustrated figure after Spurs exited the FA Cup following a lacklustre display, which will all but ensure the club’s trophy drought will extend into a 17th year.
Postecoglou admitted: “We fought hard to stay in the game but to be honest that’s all we did, we stayed in the game.
“They’re a top team. They’re the benchmark. We’re not there yet and we’re under no illusion about that.
“I just felt that all of the second half was ok, the first half we were just too passive in a lot of our play and allowed them to get a rhythm.”