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Manchester City 1-0 Tottenham: Phil Foden scores first Premier League goal as Pep Guardiola's side respond to Champions League exit against visitors to take major step towards the title

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 20/4/2019 Rob Draper for The Mail on Sunday

For one side, an unprecedented treble is on; for another, qualification for next season's Champions League looks more precarious. Really it ought to have felt like a very good week for Manchester City and a troublesome one for Tottenham.

But, of course, the respective euphoria and despair of Wednesday night's epic Champions League encounter between these clubs overshadowed everything at The Etihad, even the unseasonal and glorious Mancunian sunshine. 

The atmosphere could never quite be one of unbridled joy, despite City's victory. A disappointment which had cut so deep was not about to heal so fast. 

a man standing in front of a crowd of people watching a football game: Phil Foden struck the decisive blow as Manchester City returned to winning ways against Tottenham to boost title prospects

Phil Foden struck the decisive blow as Manchester City returned to winning ways against Tottenham to boost title prospects
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Still, strip away that emotion and you find yourself contemplating that City are on the verge of something remarkable. Five wins will secure a domestic treble, the biggest obstacle to that being a Manchester derby on Wednesday night. 

Pep Guardiola for one was in fulsome mood, perhaps consciously trying to reframe the narrative of the season, describing what his team has achieved so far as the one of the most remarkable achievements of his career.

'I don't deny how good it was in Barcelona or even in Bayern Munich,' he said. 'And I have to live with [the fact that], in my profession, if we didn't win the four titles, especially the Champions League, it is a big fail in my career. I have to accept it.

'But honestly, in this league, when everyone can lose to everyone, where we have to play with physicality, especially coming after the 100 points [last season] and competing against the best Liverpool ever - one of the best sides I ever played - just being still there, with the problems we have had, that is remarkable. That is what I appreciate most from my players.

'I want to win it but I will not judge my team, if we cannot do it. I will give a lot of credit to Liverpool. Because of one inch offside or a hand ball not given, I will not change my opinion of my team. You can do it. I know how it works. 

'But knowing how tough it was after what happened on Wednesday… when you have the pressure, you have to show it. Of course, we didn't make the best performance but what they had done is massive.' 

Mauricio Pochettino standing in front of a crowd: The two managers engaged in a discussion before the game began as City looked to make up for a Champions League exit

The two managers engaged in a discussion before the game began as City looked to make up for a Champions League exit
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Guardiola's point was that City can never afford any slip whereas Tottenham could lose here and still qualify for the Champions League. 

And 10 straight Premier League victories since losing to Newcastle in January has made this the ultimate staring contest with Jurgen Klopp, daring the other to blink first.

Phil Foden's fifth minute goal was just about enough here even if City were not at their scintillating best. Tottenham might have been worth a draw. 

Heung-min Son and Aymeric Laporte renewed their personal dual, honours more or less even on this occasion; Foden more than justified a Premier League start in such a major game, scoring his first Premier League goal and adding energy and guile; and Ederson confirmed his enormous value to City.

There were fascinating duels all over, not least between the two coaches, Mauricio Pochettino making five changes and opting for a back three, while Guardiola made three, with that Foden selection for David Silva the most significant. 

Spurs constantly shifted shape, installing Danny Rose in midfield on 69 minutes, reverting to a back four on 76 minutes. Ultimately, it was impressive by Spurs but it wasn't enough. 

MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, LIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND SPORTSMAIL'S MATCH ZONE

Manchester City: Ederson 7.5, Walker 6, Stones 5.5, Laporte 7.5, Zinchenko 7.5, De Bruyne 6 (Fernandinho 38, 7), Gundogan 6.5, Foden 9 (David Silva 85), Bernardo Silva 8, Aguero 7 (Sane 65, 7), Sterling 6.5.

Subs not used: Muric, Mahrez, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus.

Goals: Foden (5) 

Booked: Sterling 

Manager: Pep Guardiola 8 

Tottenham: Gazzaniga 7.5, Alderweireld 7 (Llorente 78, 7), Sanchez 7, Vertonghen 6.5, Foyth 5.5, Alli 6.5 (Rose 69, 7), Dier 6 (Wanyama 61, 6), Davies 5.5, Eriksen 8, Son 7.5, Lucas Moura 6. 

Subs not used: Vorm, Janssen, Walker-Peters, Skipp.

Booked: Wanyama, Vertonghen 

Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7 

Referee: Michael Oliver 6 (Northumberland)

a circuit board: This is the moment Phil Foden got to the back post to head in after a cushioned header across goal from Sergio Aguero. Find more in our dedicated MATCH ZONE. © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited This is the moment Phil Foden got to the back post to head in after a cushioned header across goal from Sergio Aguero. Find more in our dedicated MATCH ZONE.

Ratings provided by Ian Whittell

a man holding a football ball: City were determined to press home their dominance with more goals as Kevin de Bruyne battled with Spurs' Jan Vertonghen

City were determined to press home their dominance with more goals as Kevin de Bruyne battled with Spurs' Jan Vertonghen
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Yet as Guardiola said, for Tottenham it may not be decisive, Pochettino indicating that he feels victories the forthcoming home games against Brighton and West Ham can nudge them over the line. 

'It is in our hands to be in the top four,' he said. 'The next two games are going to be decisive. But I feel very proud. The performance today was very good. At least we deserved a draw. The man of the match was the keeper, Ederson. We competed really well. We need to keep that feeling and try to translate Tuesday.'

There was a further reason to take a little gloss off City's victory: Kevin De Bruyne's departure on 31 minutes. Having given perhaps his best display for the club on Wednesday night, here his season's injury curse returned. 

The Belgian knew as soon as he struck the ball to shoot and that his race was run as a muscle snapped, perhaps in his ankle, though scans on Sunday will tell all. The decisive United is impossible and maybe the rest of the season as well.

It was always expecting a little too much for the game to match Wednesday night but the early signs were encouraging. On three minutes Heung-Min darted away but his shot was blocked by Ederson. 

On five minutes, Kyle Walker advanced up the right flank and fed the excellent Bernardo Silva, who cut inside and floated the ball across the box. Sergio Aguero was there to head it across the penalty area and Foden's movement meant he had a clear run to nod it home from six yards. 

a group of people watching a football ball in front of a crowd: De Bruyne's exit changed the momentum with minutes left of the first half as Tottenham looked to take advantage to go 1-1

De Bruyne's exit changed the momentum with minutes left of the first half as Tottenham looked to take advantage to go 1-1
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

Thereafter City would dominate possession yet Tottenham would better them for decent chances, a pattern of these clubs' encounters. Son, again, had the best of them, Eriksen releasing him on 17 minutes with a sublime ball but this time a diving tackle from Laporte prevented a likely equaliser. 

Just before half time though Son had the beating of Laporte as he weaved through City players. He might have squared for Moura to score but chose to shoot and saw Ederson save.

The chances ebbed and flowed. Guardiola felt there should have been two penalties: one for Jan Vertonghen's challenge on Bernardo on twenty minutes (he was wrong) and one for Kyle Walker's handball on 69 minutes (which was a better shout, but he was still wrong). 

In the second half an excellent save from Gazzaniga with his feet would prevent Sterling from finishing the game on 72 minutes.

Pochettino would chase the game until the end, trying Danny Rose in midfield and bringing on Fernando Llorente to inevitable pantomime boos for his crucial contribution to City's Champions League exit. 

By the end they had done enough to make City sweat and their fans curse as the four minutes came up for added time. Crucially, they didn't do enough to take any points, however. 

Christian Eriksen with a football ball: Foden played a starring role for City as he continued to be positive in attempting to drive City up the pitch to attack

Foden played a starring role for City as he continued to be positive in attempting to drive City up the pitch to attack
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

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