Sunday, November 9, 2008

EPL Game 12: Man City 1-2 Tottenham: 3 Goals, 3 Sendings Off and 3pts For 'Arry

A sensational game at the Eastland's saw a resurgent Spurs come back from a goal down to win the game through two goals from an on-form Darren Bent, who has now scored seven goals in five games since Harry Redknapp took over as Tottenham manager.

The match also saw Manchester City players Gelson Fernandes and Richard Dunne both sent off to reduce City to nine men and just to get in on the act Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto was sent off with a minute to go as Spurs clung on for the much needed points, and to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

Spurs have been in fantastic form since Harry Redknapp took over two weeks ago, and with confidence returned to the side it was Spurs who took the early initiative today. Dominating the early exchanges they passed the ball well around the park as City struggled to gain a hold of the game.

With Luka Modric clearly enjoying life as an offensive midfielder in support of Darren Bent, every attack that went through the influential Croat looked like it could have a goal on the end of it. And he went close early on with a long range effort that had City 'keeper Joe Hart scrambling across the goal as it sailed past his left hand post.

Manchester City's scored against the run of play with their first real attack of the game. Some excellent play in the Spurs half on the pitch saw City string a couple of quick-fire passes together, as the ball came to Sean Wright-Phillips on the edge of the Spurs box he controlled it perfectly and laid the ball out to the right hand side of the box to the on-rushing Vassell.

The ex-England man carried the ball into the box and fired across Gomes to the far post, with the shot being too hot to handle Gomes could only parry the ball out to the predatory Robinho who finished with ease.

Giving City an early lead and taking his total to eight goals in 12 games since his record move, incidentally seven of his goals have been scored at the Eastland's.

With City in the lead, and Spurs fragile confidence being tested, Mark Hughes' men began to take control of the match. But any in-roads they had made were laid to waste as Gelson Fernandes received two yellow cards in quick succession to leave his team reduced to ten men.

The first card on 18 was for a vicious tackle from behind on Modric, and he was lucky to stay on the pitch as many referee's would have punished this callous foul with a straight red. But he failed to heed the warning signs and he clashed with David Bentley in the 24th minute that resulted in him fouling the Spurs man, and receiving a harsh second yellow.

From then on it was all one way traffic as Spurs penetrated the City defence time and time again only for Joe Hart to pull off some great saves.

And just when City fans were feeling that this might be their day, Mr. Dependable Richard Dunne misjudged the flight of an innocuous long ball to allow Darren Bent to run through and finish past a helpless Joe Hart.

After the break Spurs continued to dominate and it was only a matter of when they scored next as City began to resemble a punch-drunk boxer that has taken too much punishment.

Joe Hart had performed heroically on City's behalf but he couldn't do anything about Bent's sweet finish in the 63rd minute that gave Spurs the lead.

Tom Huddlestone who has been outstanding since Redknapp recalled him from the reserves was at the centre of all that was good about Spurs, he found Jenas on the edge of the box with a typical pin-point long range pass and with Jenas setting Bent up, the on-form striker placed the ball into the goal off the base of the far post to give Hart no chance.

Now in the lead for the first time Spurs seemed unsure what to do next against the 10-men of City. And with City sensing this they began to attack with purpose.

Robinho forcing Gomes to produce another good save during the mini-battle of the Brazilians. Stephen Ireland also went close as City pushed for an equaliser.

But their hopes were dealt a blow as Richard Dunne was sent off for a professional foul on Darren Bent with eight minutes to go. Even with nine men City continued to create good chances as Spurs continued to struggle.

Benoit Assou Ekotto gave them hope of an equaliser in the 89th minute when he received a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Zabaleta. But Spurs weren't to be denied and with this win they have climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time this season.

Since Redknapp took over two weeks ago with Spurs rooted to the bottom of the table they have taken 10pts from a possible 12pts including a win over title contenders Liverpool and a memorable draw away to Arsenal.

"It's been a fantastic couple of weeks for us, today was a big game for us and I thought we started the game well and suddenly found ourselves 1-0 down but we got back in and we started playing, a great win. A couple of games ago we had two points and if we hadn't picked up these results it would have been tough" said Redknapp after the match.

While Harry and Spurs were delighted Mark Hughes was understandably downbeat after the two sendings off "I'm not sure he's made any contact, and the referee need to take into consideration the conditions" as Hughes voiced concern that the deluge of rain-fall may have influenced the referee's decisions in all three sendings-off.

All in all another good day at the office for Harry and Spurs, and with Tottenham welcoming Liverpool back into White Hart Lane for the Carling Cup (Round of 16) game on Tuesday things are looking up for Spurs.

The same can't be said about Mark Hughes. It was always widely felt that Hughes has been operating under a cloud since the club was taken over by billionaire Khaldoon al Mubarak , and with City closer to the bottom of the table than the top, the brilliant Welshman could be forgiven for looking over his shoulder as pressure begins to mount.

twitter / WillieGannon