Man City denied winner against Tottenham by VAR
Gabriel Jesus had an injury-time goal ruled out by VAR as Manchester City dropped points at home for the first time since December 2018 with a 2-2 draw against Tottenham.
Raheem Sterling headed City ahead in the first half, but Erik Lamela swiftly equalised from distance.
Sergio Aguero flicked home before Lucas Moura nodded in soon after coming on.
Jesus then swept home in injury time, but it was ruled out for a handball by Aymeric Laporte.
It was a frustrating result for Manchester City in their first home game of the season, particularly after beginning their title defence with a 5-0 win at West Ham last weekend.
The home fans greeted the final whistle with boos directed at VAR as the disallowed goal stirred memories of City’s Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Tottenham last season.
Deja vu for City
In April, City needed a goal to secure passage to the last four of the Champions League in their second leg encounter with Spurs at the Etihad.
The hosts thought that had arrived in injury time when Sterling struck, prompting wild celebrations from City boss Pep Guardiola.
But emotions switched instantly as the video assistant referee had the final word, ruling that Aguero was offside when Bernardo Silva diverted the ball into Sterling’s path.
This time, City players wheeled away to celebrate what appeared to be a last-gasp winning goal that would have extended City’s winning run at home in the Premier League to 11 games.
However, those celebrations were cut short when referee Michael Oliver indicated that a VAR review was under way, and the goal was disallowed after replays showed a ball into the box had flicked off Laporte’s arm.
It is the second successive City game in which VAR has played a significant role. The system also overturned a goal by Sterling in their win at West Ham last time out.
Can Tottenham truly challenge City this season?
Tottenham finished 27 points behind City last season but Mauricio Pochettino’s side strengthened in the summer, giving fans hope that they could challenge for a first league title since 1961.
However, Spurs barely had a touch of the ball in the opening 10 minutes as City enjoyed 74% possession and, even though they did manage to equalise, it was against the run of play as Lamela made the most of a rare opening in the home side’s defence.
But despite the hosts’ dominance, Spurs appear to have a knack of scoring against City.
Prior to Saturday’s game, City had won their previous 15 home games in all competitions, conceding just six goals in the process. But three of those six goals were scored by Tottenham in the 4-3 Champions League game in April.
And Spurs breached their defences once more when Moura headed home from a corner just 19 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
It was a big result for Tottenham, who were beaten home and away by City in the Premier League last season. But despite the result, they were heavily outplayed by their opponents, who finished with 30 shots on goal compared to Spurs’ three.
They will want to be more competitive against their title rivals if they are to challenge for honours this term.
Man of the match – Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne display a highlight for City
There will no doubt be frustration among City fans that their side could not notch up an early win over a title rival, but De Bruyne’s performance will have given them some comfort.
When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2017-18, the Belgian playmaker was the creative heartbeat of the team, providing 16 assists – more than any other player in the league that season.
Various injuries made for a difficult campaign last term, but a strong pre-season suggested the fitness problems that plagued him last season were behind him, a feeling that has been reinforced by his explosive start to 2019-20.
De Bruyne got his first assist of the season when he set up Sterling for City’s second goal in the 5-0 win at West Ham last weekend, and the two combined superbly once again on Saturday, with De Bruyne evading the Tottenham defence with a wonderful curled pass for Sterling to nod home.
The hosts’ second goal came from a typical Manchester City move. De Bruyne found a pocket of space on the right and delivered across the face of goal for Aguero to turn in.
De Bruyne managed just two Premier League assists last season but already has three to his name in this campaign. If his injuries are truly behind him, the early signs are that the Belgian player could be back to his very best.
Sensational Sterling – the stats
- Manchester City mustered 30 shots, the most Tottenham have faced in a Premier League fixture since November 2011 (31 v Fulham).
- Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in seven goals in his last seven games for Man City against Spurs in all competitions (six goals, one assist), including netting five in his last four against them at the Etihad.
- Sterling has scored in four consecutive club appearances in all competitions for the first time in his career, netting seven goals in those four games.
- Kevin De Bruyne has registered three assists in his two Premier League games this season, one more than he managed in the whole of the last campaign.
- Sergio Aguero has netted 97 goals at the Etihad in the Premier League, the joint-third highest total by a player at a single stadium in the competition (Henry 114 at Highbury, Rooney 101 at Old Trafford, Shearer 97 at St James’ Park).
- Lucas Moura has been directly involved in five goals in his last five games in all competitions for Tottenham (four goals, one assist), as many as he managed in his previous 20.
- All three of the Premier League games where Erik Lamela has both scored and assisted have come against Manchester clubs, twice against City and once against United.