Manchester City’s failed pursuit of Harry Kane came back to haunt them as the England captain scored twice to secure Tottenham a stunning 3-2 win at the Etihad which blew the Premier League title race back open.
Kane’s 95th-minute header, seconds after the hosts had leveled through Riyad Mahrez’s penalty, inflicted City’s first league defeat in 16 games.
“We didn’t need to lose a game to know how hard it is (to win the league),” said City boss Pep Guardiola. “There are many, many games still to play.”
But Antonio Conte avoided losing four on the bounce for the first time in his managerial career thanks to a dogged defensive display enlightened by flashes of brilliance by Kane and Son Heung-min on the break.
“This win will give us more confidence. It wasn’t simple to play Manchester City after three losses in a row.”
He was City’s prime target to replace club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, but it was Kane’s playmaking ability that caught the eye in the first half.
Both of Spurs’ January signings Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski started and it was the Swede who gave the visitors a dream start.
City took time to get going after a 5-0 rout at Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League in midweek, but their pressure finally told on 33 minutes thanks to an error from Spurs captain Hugo Lloris on his 400th appearance for the club.
– VAR role reversal –
Kane started the move inside his own half before racing forward to meet the South Korean’s cross with a cool finish for just his sixth league goal of the season.
Kane did have the ball in the net for a second time on 74 minutes when he swept home from Kulusevski’s cross with the aid of a deflection.
At the other end Lloris made amends for his earlier error with an incredible finger-tip stop to turn Gundogan’s goalbound effort behind.
But there was one final twist in the tale as Kulusevski’s teasing cross was met with a towering header by Kane for a winner that gives Spurs’ ambitions of qualifying for next season’s Champions League new life.
“We have high standards of ourselves and we’ve got ourselves in a position where we can really fight for the top four.”