Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: Score, Grades and Recap
The first 45 minutes was nothing if not sloppy. But the second half was an absolutely cracking affair, and Manchester City's 2-1 victory off a wonderful goal from Edin Dzeko certainly seemed justified in the end.
It took the Spurs about 15 minutes to actually show some class on the attack—Manchester City was the more assertive team early—but it was Spurs who would strike first.
Steven Caulker opened the scoring in the 21st minute, heading home a Tom Huddlestone cross. An argument could be made that Joe Hart should have handled the attempt, but Spurs found themselves leading early on nonetheless.
The remainder of the half was a heated affair, with a litany of fouls, protestations for penalty shots and, for City, a general aura of frustration.
That would change in the second half, however.
City would find itself growing weary of being constantly called offsides, but the creative passes and probing runs from players like Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
It would be Aguero that would finally cash in for City, an inevitability given all of City's pressure in the second half. Off a pretty basic Yaya Touré pass, Aguero streaked into the right side of the box, flashed a bit of clever dribbling and beat Brad Friedel to the wide side.
In the 73rd minute, Dzeko would come on for Tevez. That would prove to be a key substitution.
A few minutes after Hart saved a fizzing shot by Gareth Bale—and Friedel returned the favor by stoning Aguero—Dzeko would strike in the 88th minute. Give credit to Silva, who chipped a lovely pass over the Tottenham defense to find Dzeko, who finished with a world-class volley that Friedel got his fingertips on but couldn't push over the net.
In the end, City deserved the three points. They were the more active and fit side, and they were often brilliant in the second half.
Tweet That Says It All
I'll ignore a sulky Roberto Mancini slinking in his seat in the first half for the moment and disregard the irony of the following quote captured by BBC Sport, if only because Mancini's observation is true.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: A
Yes, he scored the goal, but his probing runs and energy throughout the match were brilliant once again. Aguero could have easily had another goal were it not for a brilliant Friedel save, and he came free behind the Tottenham defense earlier in the game but his first touch failed him.
Few players display the consistent class on Manchester City that Kun brings to the table.
Brad Friedel, Tottenham: A-
Yes, he allowed two goals in the end. But were it not for a strong showing by Friedel, this game could have been much more lopsided in favor of City.
The somewhat controversial nature of Friedel remaining the top-choice keeper over September transfer Hugo Lloris will live on, Friedel proved once again why he's deserving to remain as Tottenham's primary goalie. Lloris deserves his chances too, but not because Friedel has lost a step.
David Silva, Manchester City: B+
He isn't the goal-scorer of a Tevez or Aguero or the defensive presence of a Vincent Kompany, but Silva sets the table for his teammates as good as anyone in the Premier League.
His pass to Dzeko on the game-winning goal was brilliant, and he nearly scored the game-winning goal himself minutes with a bit of crafty dribbling around a weary Spurs defense before launching a shot that didn't hit the target. When Silva is on his game, Man City are very difficult to beat.
Gareth Bale, Tottenham: C
In the biggest games, you expect your superstars to step up and lead the way. Bale was threatening at times—and to be fair, he had a brilliant run and shot stoned by a fabulous Hart save—but I expected more from Bale in this contest.
Too often, he was an afterthought. When the ball is on his feet everyone takes notice, but I didn't think he impacted this game like he's capable of doing.
Edin Dzeko, Manchester City: A+
Yes, he came on as a substitution. But, my goodness, you couldn't ask for much more in a substitution than what Dzeko provided.
His back-heel pass to Aguero nearly set up the game-winning goal. He scored the winner on an astonishing volley that was as fine of a goal as you'll see. He was instantly a positive force as soon as he stepped on the pitch.
If you are looking for an example of how a late-game substitution can infuse a team with energy and change a match, look no further than what Dzeko brought to the table for City. He's clearly embraced his role with the club, and it showed in a big way against Spurs.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets can handle as many Hall of Fame egos as you like.
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