Manchester City overcame Tottenham and the difficult Wembley pitch to claim a 1-0 win in Monday’s Premier League clash.
Riyad Mahrez struck after just six minutes to settle the contest and return the champions to the top of the table on goal difference.
Much was made before the match of the state of the turf in north London following the weekend NFL game, and the surface certainly looked in a sorry state despite the best efforts of ground staff prior to kick-off.
Mahrez produced a sure-footed finish from Raheem Sterling’s cross to put the visitors in front and they preserved their advantage with relative ease, as Spurs failed to ignite the sparse crowd, with many fans angered by the continued delay in finishing the new stadium.
Spurs started positively but undid their early good work when Kieran Trippier misjudged a long kick from Ederson and allowed Sterling to break into the box and cut the ball back for Mahrez to side-foot home.
The home side responded well, Harry Kane rifling a shot over the crossbar before Fernandinho intervened to deny Erik Lamela a clear sight of goal after Moussa Sissoko had sprinted clear of Benjamin Mendy.
Hugo Lloris saved from Mahrez at the left-hand post and Kane should have capitalised by making it 1-1 11 minutes before the break, but his heavy touch allowed Ederson to block at his feet.
David Silva strangely chose to pass to Sterling rather than shoot at the end of a flowing City move, with the ball eventually blocked by the covering Lloris, much to the frustration of Pep Guardiola.
Sergio Aguero twice tested Lloris as Spurs became stretched in their efforts to find an equaliser, but Erik Lamela blazed over when presented with a golden late chance by Dele Alli, as Mauricio Pochettino’s side slipped five points behind the leaders.
What does it mean? City back on top
Monday’s win means the champions are still unbeaten in domestic competition this season and are now back on top of the table, level on 26 points with Liverpool but with a better goal difference.
They have scored 27 times already in their 10 league games this term and conceded just three, the last of which came in the 2-1 home win over Newcastle United on September 1.
Spurs, who have now lost three games this term, stay fifth in the table. They have won only two of their last five games in all competitions.
Mahrez keeps his composure
Kane and Lamela were each guilty of spurning clear chances on the troublesome surface, but Mahrez showed no such problems when he sprinted from the right to meet Sterling’s pass in style.
The former Leicester City man pointed to the sky as he celebrated a goal scored just a day after the tragic confirmation that Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the chairman of his old club, was killed along with four others in a helicopter crash.
Mendy a mess for City
Benjamin Mendy seems to have won back the favour of his manager in recent weeks, but this was not a performance that will have left Guardiola impressed.
The full-back found it difficult to contain Sissoko and was often caught out of position when Tripper overlapped. Spurs should really have done more to make the most of his vulnerability.
Spurs are back in action in less than 48 hours’ time, when they cross London to take on West Ham in the EFL Cup. A trip to Wolves on Saturday follows that.
City are in cup action at home to Fulham on Thursday, before struggling Southampton visit the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
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