MANCHESTER, England, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Manchester City got back to winning ways in thrilling style after coming from two goals down to beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 on Thursday, a victory that moved the champions to within five points of Premier League leaders Arsenal.
Looking to avoid a third successive defeat in all competitions, City were sluggish from the off and went into the break two goals behind after Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal netted in quick succession at the end of the opening period.
Three goals in 12 second-half minutes, however, quickly turned the match on its head, as strikes from Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, the Norwegian’s first in four appearances in all competitions, and Riyad Mahrez put City in front.
The goal took Haaland’s league haul to 22 for the season — the most by a City player in a single league campaign under Pep Guardiola, with 19 league games still left to play.
With the visitors chasing an equaliser down the other end, Mahrez added a late fourth to keep City well in the title race, five behind Arsenal having played one game more than the Gunners, while Spurs stay fifth, five points off the top four.
“You think about everything when you are down at half time,” Mahrez told Sky Sports. “I think we played good in the first half. All we had against us was the two goals we conceded.
“When we came back, we were frustrated. We have done it before. We have come back from two goals behind in the past. We showed what and who we are and had a bit of luck too. We deserved the win.”
City had lost 2-1 at Manchester United last time out and when they went into the break 2-0 down, it appeared that Guardiola’s men were heading for successive league defeats for the first time since December 2018 as well as their third loss in a row to Tottenham.
The hosts were relatively untroubled by Spurs before Ederson’s poor pass to Rodri fell to Kulusevski, who slotted home.
Two minutes and eight seconds later, in first-half stoppage time, Spurs doubled their lead with Ederson again at fault as he failed to deal with Harry Kane’s cross and palmed the ball onto the head of Royal.
With their chances of a fifth league title in six seasons seemingly slipping away, City were a different proposition in the second half, with World Cup winner Alvarez quickly firing home from close range.
Haaland only had nine touches in the first half but only needed one more to level things up, heading home after Mahrez had nodded the ball into his path, before the Algerian drilled through Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to complete the turnaround.
While Spurs kept coming, they did not test Ederson again in the match, with another mistake, this time from Clement Lenglet, letting Mahrez in for the fourth, with the City forward finishing superbly to seal a hard-earned success.
“We played a good game with personality,” Spurs boss Antonio Conte told Sky Sports. “We put a lot of pressure on City and created problems for them. They are always really difficult to play but I am disappointed too.
“I hate losing – especially when we scored the two goals first.”