Eriksen allows excellent Spurs to sink Man City despite controversy
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | February 14, 2016
Manchester City 1-2 Tottenham
- Cross from Rose hits Sterling on hip then elbow
- Referee Clattenburg points to spot
- Kane coverts controversial penalty for Spurs
- Toure cracks free-kick against bar as City respond
- Sub Iheanacho equalises for Etihad outfit
- Eriksen puts Tottenham ahead again with eight minutes left
Iheanacho impact crushed by birthday boy Eriksen
Kelechi Iheanacho came off the Manchester City bench to nullify consternation over Tottenham counterpart Harry Kane’s controversial penalty, but Christian Eriksen celebrated his birthday with a winning goal at the Etihad.
Referee Mark Clattenburg awarded Spurs a spot-kick early in the second-half when adjudging Raheem Sterling to have handled Danny Rose’s cross inside the area. Initial contact caught Sterling on his hip before the ball ricocheted onto the underside of his elbow, replays confirmed.
Nigerian attacker Iheanacho helped to take the edge off this bizarre and harsh decision, however, by levelling the score with 15 minutes remaining. Though, Denmark international Eriksen ensured Tottenham took all three points to break home supporters’ hearts on Valentines Day.
Title race as absorbing as ever
Mauricio Pochettino’s team now climb above north London neighbours Arsenal on goal difference, who are also two points behind Premier League leaders Leicester City, with the Gunners having beaten them 2-1 earlier on Super Sunday.
Coral have cut Spurs into 9/4 (from 4/1) to win a first top-flight title since 1961, though Arsenal are the 13/8 favourites to end a dozen year drought of their own.
Man City, meanwhile, now hold their longest odds to regain the Premier League at 5/1, with the Foxes also 11/4.
War of attrition in first 45
Similar systems and setups seemed to ensure City and Spurs cancelled one another out for long spells of the first-half, though the hosts were boosted by the return of club captain Vincent Kompany after a succession of calf problems.
Customary high-pressing from a Pochettino team meant Tottenham probably shaded possession, but drew just a single save from Joe Hart and that from long-range courtesy of Christian Eriksen.
Goalmouth action at the other end was also at a premium; David Silva shooting wide early on and Raheem Sterling’s effort finding Danny Rose in the way to block.
Clattenburg controversy over Spurs spot-kick
Seven minutes after the interval came the most controversial of penalty incidents. Standing on the edge of his own box, the ball from Rose’s centre did catch Sterling on his elbow but only after making initial contact with his side.
Kane nonetheless sent England colleague Joe Hart diving to one side and put his penalty down the middle. Manuel Pellegrini’s tactical switch of flanks for another Three Lions international, Sterling, proved most unfortunate.
Iheanacho the gift that keeps on giving
Aggrieved by perceived injustice, all the Man City frustration appeared to be embodied in Yaya Toure, who cracked a 20-yard free-kick against Hugo Lloris’ crossbar after Kevin Wimmer cynically stopped Silva.
Impact sub Iheanacho restored parity for the Etihad outfit, sweeping in City’s equaliser with 15 minutes left when Gael Clichy pulled back after exchanging passes with Silva.
Eriksen ends encounter with decisive strike
The Premier League title axis is tilting towards north London, however, and Erik Lamela, off the visiting bench, made a sumptuous run before slipping in Eriksen to slot home the winning goal under Hart.
On a day when all of the top four teams in English football faced off, it did not lack for drama or dodgy decisions either at the Etihad or Emirates.
Fingertips from Lloris during a grandstand finish in stoppage time thwarted marauding Man City men desperate to grab an equaliser in last-ditch fashion.
Liverpool hit Aston Villa for six in between, but could a capital club keep the Premier League trophy inside the M25 after all?