The new Spurs are supposedly built to score a hatful of goals, but the headgear they have worn recently has looked moth-eaten. Ossie Ardiles has challenged the sacrosanct English 4-4-2, but at times it is impossible to tell how Spurs are arrayed instead: three centre- backs and a sweeper?
Christmas tree formation? More like weeping willow, as Spurs leaked three before half-time despite equalling City in possession.
Spurs had four good goal attempts before Andy Dibble, for the second successive week, conceded a penalty. There was no need for Jurgen Klinsmann to make his usual state banquet of the trip. Ilie Dumitrescu's penalty pulled Spurs back to 3-1 down at half-time.
The score was unfair, but again the Tottenham defence was playing virtual reality football: apparently three- dimensional figures such as Sol Campbell and Justin Edinburgh were proved to have no substance as Paul Walsh scored twice and Niall Quinn headed in Ian Walker's poor palm-out.
Dumitrescu signalled a fight ahead by linking neatly with Klinsmann and firing in a deflected shot while the second half was seconds old.
Tottenham's approach play was joyous, Dumitrescu playing with demonic energy and romantic skill. But City's Peter Beagrie proved more influential.
He crowned a display that momentarily dispelled all doubts that his talent is brittle by roasting David Kerslake and crossing perfectly for Steve Lomas to head down and in. City buried Ardiles's entertainers with a final goal, Garry Flitcroft's shot taking the roof off both net and stadium.
City manager Brian Horton's post-match cliche rang true - the public were the winners in this classic, full of one- touch, flowing football, towering individual performances and marvellous goals.
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