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Tottenham 0-1 Manchester City: Nathan Ake scores late winner as FA Cup holders end barren run at Spurs’ new stadium

Tottenham 0-1 Manchester City

Nathan Ake’s contentious late winner earned Manchester City a first goal and win at Tottenham’s new ground at the sixth attempt – as the FA Cup holders progressed to round five in dramatic fashion.

City were frustrated in north London, with Oscar Bobb seeing an early opener ruled out for a marginal offside, while Julian Alvarez, Bernardo Silva and substitute Kevin De Bruyne missed big second-half chances as the clock ticked towards full-time.

But missing from 101 shots on goal since Spurs opened their stadium at the start of 2019, City made it lucky 102 on 88 minutes as Ake tapped home from a goalmouth scramble – as the Tottenham players pleaded for a foul by Ruben Dias on Guglielmo Vicario in the build-up.

Spurs wanted a foul on Guglielmo Vicario in the build-up to the winner
Spurs, who welcomed James Maddison back after three months out, barely laid a glove on the cup holders – as their last realistic chance of silverware in Ange Postecoglou’s first season in charge disappeared before their eyes.

In fact, the hosts only managed one shot in the entire 95 minutes of the game – the lowest any team in this season’s FA Cup has managed to muster.

“It’s not what we’re about,” said Postecoglou after the game. “We worked hard enough but we were working at our maximum to stay in the game and rather than get on top.

“They have got eight, nine years on us. I kind of hope that people have a little bit of perspective of the team we’re tryuing to be. It won’t happen in six months. I don’t think City had it in six months.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t shy away from the challenge of it, or feel disappointed by it or tackled it differently. It’s not an excuse.

“The reality is they’re the team they are, we are still in the early stages. You need to use that as the benchmark moving forward.”

How a scrappy goal settled a scrappy game

In their quest to end their barren run without a goal in this stadium, City came out the blocks flying. The cup holders thought they had the lead in the opening minutes in a slick move which saw Kyle Walker released down the right. Phil Foden’s shot from his cross was saved by Vicario but the ball span towards the line.

The eager Bobb tapped home on the line but was deemed to be in an offside position after a lengthy VAR check went with the linesman’s correct call.

Spurs failed to really land a glove on City in the opening half as the visitors continued their pressure on Vicario’s goal. Bernardo Silva, Mateo Kovacic, Bobb and Rodri all had efforts from the edge of the area well blocked, while Foden poked a near-post cross from the left wide in the last chance of a stop-start first half.

City stepped on the accelerator at the start of the second half. Rodrigo Bentancur’s sloppy pass gave the visitors the ball high up and Bobb crossed for Alvarez at the back post. The Argentine took a touch before a superb last-ditch block from the excellent Micky van de Ven forced a corner.

Josko Gvardiol saw a shot well blocked after being set up well by Foden in a sweeping City counter – but then came signs from Tottenham.

Werner cut inside and played a defence-splitting pass to Brennan Johnson in on goal, but City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega came out well to deny him at his feet.

City brought De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku on as Spurs grew into the second half. Ange Postecoglou responded by bringing Maddison on

But perhaps the change the Spurs boss should have made was to bring Hojbjerg off as the Tottenham midfielder nearly gifted City a spot in the next round.

Hojbjerg’s wild swing and miss from Doku’s cross gave Bernardo a clear sight of goal, but the City midfielder could only fire straight at Vicario. The same Spurs midfielder then gifted the ball to Foden in the box, who teed up De Bruyne – who uncharacteristically blasted wide with the goal gaping.

Doku forced Vicario into a low save as City’s pressure built up. But eventually it told.

De Bruyne’s corner caused an almighty scramble which left Ake with a simple task of poking home. Spurs cried foul play as Dias leant into Vicario in the build-up – but there was no respite from VAR.

It was a goal to settle a game which really lacked final-third quality. Erling Haaland and Heung-Min Son cannot return quickly enough.

Pep: If you lose games, you lose competitions

City manager Pep Guardiola hailed his team’s mentality by getting a late win – saying his team are now reaching the part of the season where if they “lose games, they lose competitions”.

“Unbelievable. The performance was top class for these players who prove again the reason why they have done in the past,” he said in his press conference. “We played with incredible personality. All the players were at their top, otherwise they cannot do it.

“They proved again that we want to continue in the competition. Now it’s the second part of the season and we’re starting to play games where if you lose, you lose competitions. The Champions League is soon, then the FA Cup we have rounds and in the Premier League, how strong are Liverpool and the other teams? Arsenal?

“So we knew we cannot drop points. In the beginning maybe, now we cannot. The team played with that mentality, knowing we have to win. If you lose we are out. And I’m really pleased.”

Ange: We just stayed in the game

Meanwhile, Spurs boss Postecoglou wanted his side to start the game with more “belief and conviction” as it allowed CIty to settle into the cup tie.

“It was about having a bit more belief and conviction in yourselves in the 45 minutes,” he said. “Once they get into a bit of a rhythm, it’s hard to arrest them and you have to back off them.

“I thought the start of the second half, we created good moments for ourselves. And it’s not as if they created a lot against us.

“That aspect [the late goal] is disappointing, it happens so late so it doesn’t give you a chance to recover. We fought hard to stay in the game but that’s all we did. We stayed in the game. It wasn’t enough to get over the line.”

 

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