Manchester City 2 Tottenham 1: Match report

Manchester City 2 Tottenham 1: Aguero and Dzeko strikes spares Hart's blushes after howler

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UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 11 November 2012

Edin Dzeko lived up to his super-sub billing by firing Manchester City to victory against Tottenham.

Dzeko struck three minutes from time to complete a defiant second-half comeback from the unbeaten Blues, who closed the gap on Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United to two points.

It was the Bosnian's seventh goal of the season, six of which have come from the bench, after Sergio Aguero had cancelled out Steven Caulker's first-half header. It also extended City's unbeaten home Premier League record to an incredible 35, and their present unbeaten league run to 16, adding weight to manager Roberto Mancini's pre-match dismissal of any sense of crisis at the Etihad Stadium.

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

Edin in the right direction: Dzeko came off the bench to score the winner for City

MATCH FACTS

Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic (Maicon 56), Clichy, Toure, Barry, Silva, Tevez (Dzeko 73), Kolarov, Aguero.

Subs: Pantilimon, Maicon, Dzeko, Sinclair, Javi Garcia, Toure, Razak.

Booked: Zabaleta

Goals: Aguero 65, Dzeko 88.

Tottenham: Friedel, Walker (Dawson 78), Gallas, Caulker, Vertonghen, Sandro, Huddlestone, Lennon (Naughton 87), Bale, Dempsey, Adebayor (Defoe 80).

Subs: Lloris, Naughton, Defoe, Dawson, Sigurdsson, Livermore, Carroll.

Booked: Walker, Adebayor.

Goal: Caulker 21.

Attendance:

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

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Arriving at the ground, it was hard to escape the feeling of agitation at City, no matter what soothing words are spoken.

In his programme notes, Mancini
accentuated the positives. That long, unbeaten home run, a 10-game total
of 22 points exceeded only once by the Blues during the Premier League
era – last season – and the opportunity to equal the club's unbeaten
record in this particular competition.

“None of this evidence points to us being as badly out of form as some people would have the world believe,” the Italian said.

There is another view though – that City are now conceding goals that would have been unimaginable 12 months ago.

Two against Ajax in this stadium on
Tuesday leave City knowing even a defeat of the mighty Real Madrid will
probably not save their Champions League skins and midway through the
first half today came another calamity.

A straightforward free-kick delivered
from the touchline by Tom Huddlestone found Caulker, who had been given
too much room to make his run. The header should still have been
stopped. This time, goalkeeper Joe Hart, so often City's saviour, only
managed to shovel it in.

Mancini, seeming to make a conscious effort to curb his trigger-happy temperament, could only watch on in disbelief.

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

Level terms: Aguero slotted home the equaliser in the 65th minute

This might not have been so bad if
City had been awarded at least one of the two penalties they were
adamant should have come their way before the break.

William Gallas was the first
offender. And whilst he did block Aguero's flick at close quarters, his
arm was extended in a manner that, in the modern game, tends to result
in an infringement.

On the second occasion, Pablo
Zabaleta was bulldozed over by Huddlestone. That referee Michael Oliver
declined both merely intensified City ire against the official, with
Zabaleta and the returning David Silva among the more demonstrative home
players.

Back after five matches out with a hamstring strain, Silva had started brightly without finding a killer pass.

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

Howler: Hart allowed Caulker's header to slip through his grasp

For the visitors, Emmanuel Adebayor,
starting his first game of the season against his old club, was an
irritation more than anything, luring Zabaleta into a tackle he dived
over to get his one-time colleague a booking.

The introduction of Maicon for his
belated home debut offered an extra twist given it put him up against
Gareth Bale, who famously terrorised the Brazilian during his Inter
Milan days.

It also triggered a return to the much-derided three-man defence.

Yet Mancini's rejig worked.

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

Salvation: City were made to labour for their equaliser

On a day when little seemed to be
going right for the hosts, they profited from a couple of fortunate
bounces, allowing Yaya Toure to get on the end of Silva's pass, then
Aguero to collect possession inside the Spurs box.

Caulker got a quick lesson in how
swiftly the Argentinian can turn as he found himself heading in
completely the wrong direction as Aguero dispatched his precise shot
into the bottom corner.

From that moment on, there only seemed likely to be one winner.

With Aguero scheming, Andre Villas-Boas was forced into his own reshuffle.

Taking a tumble: Adebayor returned to his former club but failed to get on the scoresheet

Taking a tumble: Adebayor returned to his former club but failed to get on the scoresheet

Silva was denied by Spurs goalkeeper Brad Friedel's flying feet-first save before the veteran American denied Aguero.

Tottenham were creaking though. And
when Silva found Dzeko in the box three minutes from time, the Bosnian
kept his nerve to complete another memorable comeback.