Oh, Spurs fans weren’t happy on Friday night were they? And neither were the players as Nathan Ake’s late goal for Manchester City all but resigned the North London side to another trophy-less season.
Ake pounced in the 88th minute after Spurs keeper Guglielmo Vicario failed to hold a Kevin de Bruyne corner, and the Dutch defender poked home to give City victory for the first time at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
City had already seen a goal disallowed in the 6th minute as Oscar Bobb prodded home a loose ball, only for VAR to confirm an offside decision by the assistant. It was a tight call, as Bobb’s entire body was in line with the defender, but it seems his big toe had strayed beyond and it was enough to cancel out the goal.
Spurs had a reprieve and were really living on borrowed time in their own stadium as City dominated the match. So, when de Bruyne swung in a corner and Ake struck, the home side were almost expecting it to be disallowed.
The reason? Ruben Dias
All through the game, the City defender had hassled the keeper without complaint by any of the home side. Every corner City had, Dias was there, on the line, wrestling for a prime position to head home.
And he had every right to be there.
If a player wants to stand in front of the keeper, that’s perfectly fine. If the ball is then aimed at that player, who can then nod home, that’s also fine. But Vicario seemed to think he had an absolute right to claim that ball and if he didn’t he was going to cry, whinge and moan to the referee until the goal was cancelled.
In the past, that has happened as officials have been far too lenient with goalkeepers, awarding a foul when in fact, opposing players have a right to go for the ball. We were victim to that against Liverpool earlier in the season, when Dias had a goal disallowed.
But Vicario seemed to think he was impeded by Dias, despite the keeper climbing all over the City defender in a desperate attempt to get the ball. This prevented Dias from jumping and, had a goal not been scored, should have resulted in a penalty. The Italian keeper got a hand to it, only to spill it to Ake, to prod home.
Replays showed that the City man not only had every right to be in that position, but also to go for it. De Bruyne had delivered it almost inch-perfect for the Portuguese to head home. It’s the fact that the keeper just wasn’t good enough that City went in front.
And goals cannot be disallowed just because the keeper is crap.
Spurs Just Didn’t Deal With Dias
As we mentioned, Dias employed this tactic all through the game. He was a constant threat on the goal line, waiting for that one chance that would fall his way. Spurs can appeal against it all they want, but in the end, they were masters of their own downfall.
Many other teams would have put their own defender between Dias and Vicario, or employed some other tactic to prevent the City man from getting in that position. The simple fact is, they didn’t.
City had 14 corners throughout the match, with about 9 or 10 before and including the goal. That’s enough opportunity to see what was happening and do something about it. They didn’t, but complain when they concede. It was coming. The crowd knew it. The watching audience could see it.
Maybe, instead of relying on the referee and VAR, they should have put in a better performance and dealt with the threat. One shot on target is just not good enough for a team of Spurs’ stature, and instead of blaming the ref and VAR, they should look at their own team first.