Tottenham 1 Manchester City 0: Hotshot Harry makes history! (2023)

IT was not the cleanest strike of Harry Kane’s career. You could even call it slightly scruffy if you like. A right foot shot delivered slightly on the top of the ball, causing it to spin across and beyond the right hand of Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson and in to the far corner.

But it was goal number 267 for Kane in a Tottenham shirt. That took Kane one ahead of the late Jimmy Greaves as the club’s record scorer and was one of two things that will have really mattered to the England captain. The other is that Tottenham won this game.

To go past Greaves is some achievement for Kane. As he spoke on the field at full-time, he called it ‘surreal’. But anybody who has seen his Tottenham career progress over the last six or seven years sensed this moment was coming from some time out.

Certainly none will begrudge him. Few footballers score goals with such natural calm as Kane does. If he stays beyond the duration of a contract that expires in the summer of 2024 he will surely score many, many more.

Spurs had been under a little pressure in the opening quarter of an hour here but when Manchester City lost possession on the edge of their own penalty area in the 16th minute they were in trouble. Once the ball had been moved to Kane, what happened next was something of a formality.

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That City did not find a way back in to the game was surprising. They had plenty of time to do it. But these are strange times for Pep Guardiola and his team and the fact City have not managed to capitalise on Arsenal’s defeat at Everton yesterday will hit like a hammer blow.

With Phil Foden unwell and Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan starting this game on the bench, City were not short of possession but they were lacking bite. Erling Haaland had a difficult day up front and did not have a single meaningful attempt on goal.

Riyad Mahrez did hit the bar just before half-time but City created almost nothing in the second period. At the end Guardiola was a picture of seething frustration which perhaps nobody would have predicted as Tottenham were not in the game until the scored.

Their opponents dominated possession for almost fifteen minutes, moving the ball patiently and accurately in between and around the white shirts. There was a free header at the far post for Nathan Ake following a corner while Julian Alvarez – playing just behind Haaland – delivered a low volley from the edge of the area that may have caused Hugo Lloris a problem had a Tottenham leg not got in the way.

There was no early siege from City but there was pressure. A cross from Kyle Walker had to be headed away acrobatically and bravely by Emerson Royal and it felt like only a matter of time before the defending champions created something more clear cut and productive.

But then City attempted to play one pass too many inside their own half and Tottenham pounced to provide Kane with his career-defining moment. It was a short pass by Manuel Akanji towards young City left-back Rico Lewis that caused the problem.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg read it and anticipated it and when he stole the ball 20 yards out he was strong enough to hold off two challenges to slip the ball to Kane. The England captain always looked likely to score from here. Of course he did. He was on his right foot with enough space in which to move.


The shot was not struck cleanly but that didn’t matter. If anything it may have helped beat City goalkeeper Ederson as the ball was struck rather in to the turf and spun beyond the Brazilian and in to the far corner of the net.

Kane’s reaction to his goal and indeed his record was understated. A kiss of his wedding ring, a smile and a wave to family up in the stands. But he knows what it meant. The only question was whether it was to ultimately stand as a match winning moment or merely a personal milestone on which he could one day reflect.

The goal did change the course of the half, though. Tottenham were much better thereafter, more energetic and purposeful. For a good while they were the better team. City started to struggle as their opponents began to press them in possession in a manner not previously evident.

The Swede Dejan Kulusevksi down the right side was particularly dangerous. He is a powerful runner and he caused City problems. For periods, Guardiola’s team could not ensure themselves of the possession needed to recover.

They needed to regain some kind of control in midfield while Haaland at this stage was as anonymous as it’s possible to be when you look like he does.


Tottenham could have increased their lead a minute before half-time as Kane and then Eric Dier – twice – were blocked as the ball dropped dangerously from a corner. Dier’s second attempt was the best of the three and the central defender probably should have scored.

Prior to that, City’s only real attempts to gain parity had come via long range efforts from Bernardo Silva and the midfielder Rodri. Loris saved both comfortably.

But he was saved by the frame of his goal in first half added time when a cross from the left was only half cleared and Mahrez delivered a hooked left foot volley that struck the underside of the bar and bounced to safety.

Guardiola expressed his irritation with his players as they left the field at half-time. Moments before Mahrez’s shot, Jack Grealish had curled an effort off target which seemed to edge his manager close to explosion.

Things didn’t improve during the first 20 minutes of the second half. Grealish delivered a limp corner to the far side and another cross straight out of play. Alvarez showed his frustration meanwhile by slamming a loose ball against the hoardings.

City were disjointed and frustrated and when Tottenham’s Ben Davies headed a corner over the angle of post and bar, Guardiola made his first change as Kevin de Bruyne replaced Mahrez.

As we approached the final third City did begin to press. Their efforts began to reflect their need. Spurs could sense something unexpected, though, and defended as such. Dier stood tall to deflect an Alvarez shot over the bar with his knee after Grealish found his team-mate with a rehearsed corner and then Cristian Romero threw himself in the way of a low shot from Akanji. The City fans howled for handball but there was none.

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By now Spurs were playing largely on the break but they were effective in doing so. Their pace on the counter left City looking uncomfortable.

Heung-Min Son was more often than not the leader of the cavalry charge and when he released Ivan Perisic down the left in the 66th minute the Croatian’s low cross was marginally too strong for Kane to reach at the far post.

Four minutes later, with just twenty to go in the game, Son hared up field again and this time fed Kane on the left side. The goal scorer rode his luck a little to squeeze past Akanji with the help of a good bounce and was then denied by Ederson who dashed out to save at his feet.

At this stage, City had enjoyed two-thirds of the possession but it didn’t feel like that. Tottenham deserved their lead and it was just a matter of whether they could hold on.

Another charge by Son saw him deliver a low shot that Ederson parried to his right. Then Hojbjberg tried similar but his shot was off target.


Haaland had still not registered a shot of note in the game. The Norwegian – scorer of one as City came from two down to beat Spurs at the Etihad last month – did not stop running but this was not his day any more than it was City’s.

As time began to run out there was an inconvenience for Tottenham as Romero was sent off for fouling Grealish, his second booking of the day. With two minutes of regulation time left to play, things got a little nervy. But De Bruyne planted his free-kick in to the face of Hojbjerg in the Tottenham wall and the home team held on.


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