Birthday boy Christian Eriksen scored a late winner as Tottenham claimed a controversial 2-1 victory over title rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Eriksen, who turned 24 on Sunday, settled a highly-charged Barclays Premier League contest with seven minutes remaining after City had fought back to cancel out Harry Kane’s dubious penalty opener for Spurs.
Kane struck from the spot in the 53rd minute after Raheem Sterling was harshly adjudged to have handled inside the area by referee Mark Clattenburg.
City initially responded well to the setback with Kelechi Iheanacho hitting an excellent equaliser but Eriksen’s winner dealt a potentially deadly blow to the hosts’ title hopes.
Yet while City can bemoan their luck, Spurs will not dwell long on the issue after a result that truly ignites their bid for a first league title win since 1961. They left the field in the knowledge they had moved within two points of leaders Leicester.
It may have been contentious, but it was a hard-earned win. They dug in during a first half that was fought at a fierce tempo but in which, with so much at stake, chances were few and far between.
With captain Vincent Kompany back in their starting line-up for the first time in three months after finally shaking off his latest calf injury, City were noticeably stronger and more organised at the back.
Nicolas Otamendi also seemed more relaxed alongside Kompany and dangermen Kane and Dele Alli were kept quiet.
Yet City also had little success up against the Spurs back line, with Kyle Walker frustrating Sterling out wide and Toby Alderweireld solid against Sergio Aguero and the often advancing Yaya Toure.
Aguero put City’s first clear-cut chance over the bar while Danny Rose bravely blocked a powerful Sterling volley at close range and was badly winded for his trouble, needing time to regain his composure.
Rose later had a chance himself at the other end but this time Pablo Zabaleta got his body in the way. Eriksen connected well with a shot but Joe Hart saved comfortably.
The game burst into life in the second half and City should have taken the lead when Toure’s cross took a deflection and looped into the path of Aguero. The Argentinian admonished himself after clipping the chance over the bar.
Moments later City were cursing again, and this time with a sense of injustice, after Clattenburg controversially pointed to the penalty spot.
Sterling seemed to have successfully blocked Rose’s cross as he jumped into its path and turned his back mid-air, but Clattenburg deemed it to have touched his arm. There was intense debate over whether it had, and even if it did, whether it could have been deliberate, but the decision stood. Kane took full advantage to fire home from 12 yards.
City were jolted into action and Toure was inches away from equalising as he rattled the crossbar from a free-kick.
City also sent on Iheanacho and it proved a wise move. The exciting teenager had been on the field just eight minutes when he raced into the area with perfect timing to lash home Gael Clichy’s cutback into the area for the equaliser.
But Spurs’ late change proved equally astute, with Erik Lamela charging forward after Toure lost possession. He slipped in Eriksen and the Dane slid a cool finish past Hart.
City fought to the end but there was to be no way back with Silva putting their final chance over the bar.
Have something to tell us about this article?