Riyad Mahrez hit another brace as Manchester City recovered from two goals down to beat Spurs in a lively encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
The visitors scored two goals in two minutes at the end of the first half to send Spurs, who had been outclassed all through the half, into the break with a two-goal cushion. But goals from Julian Alvarez and Erling Haaland, again within two minutes of each other, restored parity to the scoreline, before Mahrez took over and completed the turnaround.
On a bitterly cold night in East Manchester, City were looking to put the nightmare of two consecutive defeats behind them as they looked to keep the pressure on Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. After a woeful performance at Southampton in the League Cup, the blues fell at Old Trafford as United clawed their way to three points, leading some pundits to get carried away and brand them as title contenders.
Manager Pep Guardiola had cited a few issues with the team before the match and made a brave decision to leave Kevin de Bruyne, Phil Foden and Bernardo on the bench. Instead, the Catalan boss went for an attacking line-up with Julian Alvarez partnering Erling Haaland, with Mahrez and Jack Grealish completing the attack.
The blues looked to capitalise on Spurs’ defeat in the North London derby where they were outclassed by a strong-looking Arsenal side and, despite all the possession and keeping Spurs restricted, City struggled in front of goal. A Haaland header that went over the bar was the closest City came to breaking the deadlock, and when it happened, it was a moment that wasn’t in the script.
Ederson’s attempted pass out of defence was intercepted and Dejan Kulusevski was on hand to put the ball into the back of the net. If that wasn’t enough, the blues fell apart just moments later when Harry Kane, a one-time target of City, won a challenge against Rodri. His shot was parried by Ederson, but it fell kindly to Emerson Royal to head over Ederson and into the goal.
Boos rang out as the half-time whistle went, but it was more in frustration with the referee as they once again failed to give City many decisions that the fans thought should have gone their way.
But, City have been here before already this season and, once again, it would all change in the second half. First, Alvarez scored his first goal since returning from the World Cup after good work by Mahrez on the right. Both Ilkay Gundogan and Grealish had a pop before the ball fell to the Argentine, who made no mistake.
City had the impetus and were level just 90 seconds later. Rodri’s ball found the run of Mahrez, and his header across goal was just the right height for Haaland to guide home for the equaliser.
The blues were on fire and looked the more likely to score again, but it was the visitors who almost regained the lead. Ivan Peresic was left unmarked at the far post but Rico Lewis deflected his shot wide for a corner.
On 63 minutes, City completed the turnaround thanks to a wonderful goal from Mahrez. Rodri’s ball out to the right was won by the winger from the defender, and the Algerian charged forward before beating the keeper at the near post with his right foot.
It was no more than City deserved for an incredible second-half performance that simply blew the opposition away, but there was always a danger that Spurs could hurt City in the same way they did last season. On that occasion, Harry Kane broke blue hearts with a last-minute winner, but this time, that honour went to Mahrez.
Ederson’s long-ball forward saw Spurs sub Clemente Lenglet misjudge the flight and Mahrez nipped in before clipping the ball over Hugo Lloris to make it 4-2 and secure the three points.
It was just what City needed after two disastrous matches and can now face Wolves on Sunday with renewed optimism.
Final Score: Manchester City 4-2 Spurs