FA Premier League
Sunday 21 April 2013, 13.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy (Lescott 90), Barry, Y Toure, Milner (Kolarov 45), Nasri, Tevez, Dzeko (Sinclair 83)
Unused: Pantilimon, K Toure, Garcia, Aguero
Goals: Nasri (5)
Booked: Y Toure, Hart
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: James Milner
The early pressure from the home side had City on the ropes to begin with, as Kompany was needed to put in a last ditch tackle to deny Parker a shot at goal, before Bale had a go from range. Hart managed to hold it at the second attempt, after it swerved all over the shop in front of him. A cross from the right was then spilt by the goalkeeper, but he recovered before Adebayor could get to the loose ball.
Despite that, though, it was the visitors who took the lead. Brilliant work from Tevez saw him keep the ball by the right corner flag, despite the company of two defenders. He slipped it through to Milner, whose low cross picked out Nasri at the back post and the Frenchman found the bottom corner.
With 20 minutes played, Tottenham had a great chance to equalise. Walker was played neatly in behind Nasri and he was through one-on-one with Hart. He got his head up, looking for the square pass, but couldn’t see an option and chose to take on the shot. That delay allowed Hart time to get off his line and block the effort brilliantly.
Seven minutes later, City should have been two goals to the good. A neat touch from Tevez turned the ball around the corner for Nasri to face goal. He skipped inside the first challenge and around the second, but Lloris was on top of him quickly and he had to stretch to get the touch. He got it past the Tottenham keeper, but it was just wide of the post.
Tottenham stepped up the pressure with 37 minutes played, as Bale smashed a free kick from long, long range into City’s two-man wall. The second delivery into the box allowed Dempsey to get the wrong side of Clichy, but the French full back manager to recover to get the ball behind for a corner, before the Spurs man could shoot.
A moment later, Tevez did well to slide Dzeko through on goal and the Bosnian should have done better than force Lloris into a comfortable save. He was under pressure from the covering defender and on his wrong foot, but the shot was weak and too close to the goalkeeper. A corner to the back post then resulted in Tevez getting a glancing header towards goal, following Nastasic’s nod back, but he couldn’t force it past Lloris.
On the stroke of half time, Tottenham would have been going into the break level had it not been for a brilliant block from Zabaleta. In truth, the Argentine knew nothing about it, but he was in the right place at the right time to prevent the ball hitting the net, after a low ball into the box deflected to the middle. It was a let off for the visitors.
Two minutes into the second half, it was Tottenham’s turn to be fortunate with cards: Assou-Ekotto could have seen red for a two-footed lunge at Zabaleta, but he was lucky that it was just a yellow and Zabaleta didn’t make a meal of it. It was a bitty start to the second period that the hosts just about edged, though neither goalkeeper had work to do.
A free kick on the edge of the City box was skied by Bale, before, at the other end, a neat move broke down as Zabaleta crossed into the box. Dawson’s cross, though, landed straight to the feet of Yaya Toure, who smashed his effort first time at the near post. Lloris, though, was across well to hold the snap-shot.
With just over 15 minutes to go, the goal that had been coming came. City were under pressure and a low ball from Bale across the face of goal found Dempsey unmarked at the back post and onside. He had a virtual open goal, with Hart taken out of commission by the cross, and he wasn’t going to miss. The home side were level.
Three minutes later, the home side were ahead. A through ball by Holtby found Defoe behind Kompany. He cut inside and curled a powerful shot towards the back post and Hart couldn’t reach it, as it nestled into the bottom corner.
Another three minutes on and Tottenham were out of sight: Bale was slipped in behind Clichy and found himself one-on-one with Hart. As the goalkeeper came out, he dinked it over him and it dropped into the middle of the goal. City were paying the price for not taking their chances when on top of the game.
It was a game that summed up City’s season: Good in spells, but not good enough overall.