Tottenham Hotspur ended the Premier League’s Valentine’s Day feast of football in style by completing a 2015-16 double over Manchester City with a 2-1 win at the Etihad.
Christian Eriksen netted an 83rd-minute winner, after City sub Kelechi Iheanacho had cancelled out Harry Kane’s controversial penalty.
Tottenham’s victory moved them to within two points of the table’s summit, after Arsenal had earlier toppled leaders Leicester City.
Kane and Eriksen were Tottenham’s scoring heroes, but they were far from being their side’s top performers on the day.
Eriksen was below par for much of the match. His brilliant late winner aside, the Danish playmaker seemed to shirk responsibility on the pitch.
On his 24th birthday, Eriksen failed to take the game by the scruff of the neck and his lack of courage was exemplified in the first half, when – despite being Tottenham’s no.1 set-piece expert – he allowed Toby Alderweireld to take a free-kick from an encouraging position.
Although Alderweireld wasted said free kick, he – along with fellow centre-back Kevin Wimmer – was excellent.
Tottenham’s full-backs were even better, though. Kyle Walker kept Raheem Sterling in his pocket for large periods, while Danny Rose produced an all-action performance that saw him impress at both ends of the pitch.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris did his bit too. His biggest contribution came right at the death when he clawed away a cross that was destined for the head of Nicolas Otamendi in Tottenham’s six-yard box.
Mousa Dembele was the Man of the Match. He beat Yaya Toure at his own game in midfield, while Eric Dier helped out with yet another sound display as an anchor man.
Dele Alli was not at his best, but he was probably the pick of Tottenham’s four attacking starters, marginally edging out Kane, who struggled to keep hold of the ball.
Kane touched the ball just 38 times – of the 20 outfield starters, only Fernando, who was subbed off on 65 minutes, had fewer touches.
Son Heung-Min was Tottenham’s worst performer. He, like Eriksen, failed to demonstrate enough attacking bravery, instead opting for the safe option almost every time.
Tom Carroll replaced Son on 71 minutes when Spurs were trying to hang on to their 1-0 lead. He kept things simple, but picked up a yellow card for time-wasting.
Although Carroll’s impact on the game was minimal, fellow sub Erik Lamela, who came on for Alli for the final 10 minutes, played a huge part in securing what was arguably Tottenham’s best win of the season.
Lamela only made two passes, but both were on target and one was a perfectly-timed through ball to Eriksen for the winner. The Argentine’s assist came after he ran at the City defence – something Eriksen did only once all game.
Nacer Chadli was Tottenham’s final sub, coming on for Kane. The Belgian wannabe striker made just one touch in a very short cameo at the end.
Tottenham player ratings v Man City
Lloris 7; Walker 9, Alderweireld 8, Wimmer 8, Rose 8; Dembele 9, Dier 7; Eriksen 5, Alli 6, Son 5; Kane 6. Carroll 6, Lamela 7, Chadli n/a.