Man City humiliates Tottenham in 4-1 win, leads by 14 points
By ROB HARRIS
Dec. 16, 2017
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Raheem Sterling scored twice as Manchester City swept to a 4-1 victory over Tottenham on Saturday that sent the runaway Premier League leaders 14 points clear and exacerbated the London club's domestic decline.
A 16th successive victory — extending the English top-flight record — was delivered with a typically electrifying display from Pep Guardiola's team while overcoming rough treatment by the visitors.
Kevin De Bruyne was kicked around the pitch but City's creative spark was not impeded. The Belgian doubled the lead in the 70th minute — building on Ilkay Gundogan's first-half header — and he started the counterattack that led to the first of Sterling's two goals.
"Everybody who comes in, even Ilkay, who didn't play a lot, is doing an incredible job," De Bruyne said. "We had an incredible game."
Sterling compounded Tottenham's misery in the 90th minute when he rounded goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to tap in the fourth.
"If you provide a lot of space," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said, "... they have unbelievable quality on the transition."
Christian Eriksen scored a stoppage-time consolation but this was humiliating for a Tottenham side which beat European champion Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage.
Having finished above City in the previous two seasons, last season's Premier League runners-up are now in seventh place. Before the season has even reached its halfway point, Tottenham is 21 points behind City and is closer in points to the relegation zone than the summit.
"It was solid, it was good against a team demanding to be so intense without the ball because they play so good," Guardiola said. "We've beaten one of the strongest teams in the Premier League."
One, though, that struggles against leading teams. Pochettino has only one win in 18 games against the teams who finished alongside Spurs in the top six last season. That success on the road came at City in February 2016. There was little prospect of a repeat on Saturday. Not when the gulf between these sides has grown so considerably, and goals are gifted so easily as the opener.
Tottenham had only been spared by Sergio Aguero's inability to direct a header on target when Gundogan was left unmarked to drift into the penalty area to meet Leroy Sane's corner in the 14th minute. The free header was Gundogan's first goal since November 2016 after a considerable spell on the sidelines with knee ligament damage.
"We were not only poor but the way we conceded the first goal was a massive mistake for us," Pochettino said.
Tottenham's inability to contain City was highlighted by the way De Bruyne waltzed around Dele Alli, who was struggling on his recall to the team and appeared irritated.
Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal was limiting the damage, twice blocking shots from Aguero.
Tottenham had barely encroached City territory when Harry Kane came close to an equalizer, curling a shot wide. Kane was also targeted when Nicolas Otamendi caught the striker in the face with a high boot before halftime.
Kane, himself, was also fortunate to stay on the pitch in the 53rd when he escaped with yellow card for a sliding, studs-up tackle on Sterling's ankle.
It was a more assertive start to the second half by Tottenham, perhaps too excessive. Alli left De Bruyne seething by treading on his ankle.
De Bruyne responded almost instantly with a goal, lashing the ball through Lloris' hands into the roof of the net.
De Bruyne was showing composure while being besieged, earning a penalty when he was tripped by Jan Vertonghen. Gabriel Jesus hit the post from the spot and Sterling fired over the follow-up.
But the winger finally found the net with 10 minutes remaining by completing a lightning move started by De Bruyne picking up possession around the halfway line. Gundogan and Sane combined to set up Sterling who withstood Vertonghen's sliding challenge to score.
When Bernado Silva's throughball went right past Eric Dier in the 90th minute, it was typical of Tottenham's shoddiness against such a complete side. Sterling took advantage by rolling the ball into the net.
On an evening when freezing fog descended on the Etihad Stadium, Tottenham's top-four aspirations were further obscured.
City is strolling to its third Premier League title since 2012.
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