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Manchester City 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur: Guardiola 'accepts' VAR after goal overruled

Gabriel Jesus
Gabriel Jesus thought he had won it for Manchester City deep in injury time

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he would "have to accept it" after a VAR decision overruled what looked to have been a late winner over Tottenham.

City were celebrating after Gabriel Jesus appeared to have scored in injury time, but the goal was ruled out because the ball had brushed Aymeric Laporte's arm in the build-up.

"We have to accept it," said Guardiola after the game ended 2-2.

"It's tough because we scored a goal late on. But ask VAR people, not me."

Raheem Sterling had headed dominant City ahead in the first half, but Erik Lamela immediately equalised against the run of play with a strike from distance.

Sergio Aguero flicked home Kevin de Bruyne's cross before Substitute Lucas Moura nodded in seconds after coming on as a substitute to pull Spurs level again.

It was a frustrating result for City in their first home game of the season, particularly after beginning their title defence with a 5-0 win at West Ham last weekend.

It is the first time they have dropped points at home since losing to Crystal Palace on 22 December last year.

The home fans greeted the final whistle with boos directed at VAR as the disallowed goal stirred memories of City's Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Tottenham last season.

VAR
The disallowed goal meant Manchester City failed to win in the Premier League for the first time in 16 games

Deja vu for City

In April, City needed a goal to secure passage to the last four of the Champions League in their second leg encounter with Spurs at the Etihad.

The hosts thought that had arrived in injury time when Sterling struck, prompting wild celebrations from City boss Pep Guardiola.

But emotions switched instantly as the video assistant referee had the final word, ruling that Aguero was offside when Bernardo Silva diverted the ball into Sterling's path.

This time, City players wheeled away to celebrate what appeared to be a last-gasp winning goal that would have extended City's winning run at home in the Premier League to 11 games.

However, those celebrations were cut short when referee Michael Oliver indicated that a VAR review was under way, and the goal was disallowed after replays showed a ball into the box had flicked off Laporte's arm.

New handball rules introduced this season state that any goal resulting from handball, accidental or otherwise, must be ruled out and Man City found out to their cost just how strictly these laws will be applied.

Speaking on Match of the Day, Danny Murphy was scathing in his assessment of the decision.

"The new handball rule is ridiculous," he said. "That should never on any playing field anywhere in the world be disallowed.

"It wouldn't even be seen if we didn't have VAR."

It is the second successive City game in which VAR has played a significant role. The system also overturned a goal by Sterling in their win at West Ham last time out.

Aguero was particularly frustrated with the officials at the final whistle against Tottenham. He had also earlier exchanged angry words with Guardiola when he was substituted for Jesus, but the City boss dismissed that as a misunderstanding.

"He thought I was annoyed with him for the goal we conceded," said Guardiola. "But it is emotions, and that is part of the game. We talked afterwards. I love him a lot because we know his feelings."

Can Tottenham truly challenge City this season?

Tottenham finished 27 points behind City last season but Mauricio Pochettino's side strengthened in the summer, giving fans hope that they could challenge for a first league title since 1961.

However, Spurs barely had a touch of the ball in the opening 10 minutes as City enjoyed 74% possession and, even though they did manage to equalise, it was against the run of play as Lamela made the most of a rare opening in the home side's defence.

But despite the hosts' dominance, Spurs appear to have a knack of scoring against City.

Prior to Saturday's game, City had won their previous 15 home games in all competitions, conceding just six goals in the process. But three of those six goals were scored by Tottenham in the 4-3 Champions League game in April.

And Spurs breached their defences once more when Moura headed home from a corner just 19 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

It was a big result for Tottenham, who were beaten home and away by City in the Premier League last season. But despite the result, they were heavily outplayed by their opponents, who finished with 30 shots on goal compared to Spurs' three.

They will want to be more competitive against their title rivals if they are to challenge for honours this term.

Man of the match - Kevin de Bruyne

Kevin de Bruyne
De Bruyne had the keys to unlock the Tottenham defence and can count himself unlucky that his assists did not lead to a Manchester City win

De Bruyne display a highlight for City

There will no doubt be frustration among City fans that their side could not notch up an early win over a title rival, but De Bruyne's performance will have given them some comfort.

When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2017-18, the Belgian playmaker was the creative heartbeat of the team, providing 16 assists - more than any other player in the league that season.

Various injuries made for a difficult campaign last term, but a strong pre-season suggested the fitness problems that plagued him last season were behind him, a feeling that has been reinforced by his explosive start to 2019-20.

De Bruyne got his first assist of the season when he set up Sterling for City's second goal in the 5-0 win at West Ham last weekend, and the two combined superbly once again on Saturday, with De Bruyne evading the Tottenham defence with a wonderful curled pass for Sterling to nod home.

The hosts' second goal came from a typical Manchester City move. De Bruyne found a pocket of space on the right and delivered across the face of goal for Aguero to turn in.

De Bruyne managed just two Premier League assists last season but already has three to his name in this campaign. If his injuries are truly behind him, the early signs are that the Belgian player could be back to his very best.

'We need to improve'

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said: "I'm very pleased with a point but also know we need to improve. We are in a process where we need to improve in all areas and the team is going to improve step by step, but we need time.

"It was an unbelievable goal [by Lucas Moura]. Always when you play a team like Manchester City, you have to play your best.

"We need to accept that [VAR]. I was a little bit critical of VAR but now we have to accept the rules. Now it benefits us. No doubt it won't benefit us at other times. It's a rule we need to accept."

Sensational Sterling - the stats

  • Manchester City mustered 30 shots, the most Tottenham have faced in a Premier League fixture since November 2011 (31 v Fulham).
  • Raheem Sterling has been directly involved in seven goals in his last seven games for Man City against Spurs in all competitions (six goals, one assist), including netting five in his last four against them at the Etihad.
  • Sterling has scored in four consecutive club appearances in all competitions for the first time in his career, netting seven goals in those four games.
  • Kevin de Bruyne has registered three assists in his two Premier League games this season, one more than he managed in the whole of the last campaign.
  • Sergio Aguero has netted 97 goals at the Etihad in the Premier League, the joint-third highest total by a player at a single stadium in the competition (Henry 114 at Highbury, Rooney 101 at Old Trafford, Shearer 97 at St James' Park).
  • Lucas Moura has been directly involved in five goals in his last five games in all competitions for Tottenham (four goals, one assist), as many as he managed in his previous 20.
  • All three of the Premier League games where Erik Lamela has both scored and assisted have come against Manchester clubs, twice against City and once against United.

What next?

Manchester City will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Bournemouth on Sunday, 25 August (14:00 BST). Tottenham, meanwhile, are at home to Newcastle on the same day (16:30 BST).

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool22006246
2Arsenal22003126
3Man City21107254
4Brighton21104134
5Tottenham21105324
6Bournemouth21103214
7Everton21101014
8Man Utd11004043
9Burnley21014223
10Norwich210145-13
11Sheff Utd10101101
12Crystal Palace10100001
13Leicester10100001
14Wolves10100001
15West Ham201116-51
16Aston Villa200225-30
17Newcastle200214-30
18Southampton200215-40
19Chelsea100104-40
20Watford200204-40
View full Premier League table

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