London (AFP) – Tottenham Hotspur advanced their Premier League title credentials with a superb 2-0 victory on Sunday as Pep Guardiola tasted defeat for the first time as Manchester City manager.
An Aleksandar Kolarov own goal and a Dele Alli strike gave Spurs a third successive league win over City and manager Mauricio Pochettino could even afford for Erik Lamela to squander a second-half penalty.
The result lifted Spurs to second, a point below City, and means the north London club, third last term, have made their best start to a season since their fabled 1960-61 title-winning campaign.
Pochettino was left to celebrate only a second league win over Guardiola in 10 matches, and the first since Espanyol beat Barcelona in their first such encounter in February 2009.
It was Guardiola’s first defeat in 12 games as City manager and following their mid-week 3-3 draw at Celtic in the Champions League, his side have now gone successive games without victory.
City had won their first six league matches, but the last unbeaten record in the division now belongs to Tottenham.
Spurs were caught cold by Liverpool, the last high-pressing team to visit White Hart Lane, in August’s 1-1 draw between the sides, but Pochettino’s men did not make the same mistake against City.
They were at it from the off, Son Heung-Min lashing a shot over the bar with barely 30 seconds on the clock, and in the ninth minute they scored.
Danny Rose hoisted a cross into the box from the left and Kolarov made a complete hash of his attempted clearance, the ball ballooning up off his left thigh and floating into the top-right corner.
The white-shirted onslaught continued, City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo blocking at his near post from Son and fielding a mishit Rose volley that threatened to dip beneath his crossbar.
Nicolas Otamendi was booked for lunging in on the jinking Alli and from the ensuing free-kick, Christian Eriksen curled inches wide.
– Aguero hits post –
Not until the middle of the first half did City begin to pick their way through the Spurs press.
Sergio Aguero might have had a penalty after being caught by Jan Vertonghen as they vied for Kolarov’s cross and the Argentine also worked Hugo Lloris with a curling free-kick.
But with Victor Wanyama and Moussa Sissoko policing the midfield, City could not settle and eight minutes before half-time they found themselves two goals down.
After stopping a City counter-attack in its tracks, Spurs broke themselves, Son slipping a pass through to Alli, who swept a first-time shot low past Bravo’s outstretched right hand.
Spurs came out of the traps fastest in the second half as well, with Son and Wanyama going close from range.
Aguero almost embarrassed Lloris at the other end with a low shot that the Frenchman inadvertently deflected against his near post.
But it was an isolated opportunity for the visitors, prompting Guardiola to inject some guile into his midfield by sending on Ilkay Gundogan for Fernando.
Spurs should have put the game to bed in the 65th minute when referee Andre Marriner pointed to the spot after Fernandinho had caught Alli from behind.
But Bravo plunged to his left to push Lamela’s penalty away.
Guardiola also introduced Kelechi Iheanacho in place of Jesus Navas, but there was just one clear opportunity for his side in the closing stages, Lloris saving sharply from Aguero’s deflected effort.
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