Hungry Spurs state top-table intentions

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Manchester City 0

You had to wonder how Mark Hughes could bring himself to shake the hand of Robinho as the Brazilian striker trudged off the pitch after an hour, a dismal performance capped by a sullen slouch straight down the tunnel.

Robinho was already showered and suited by the time the final whistle blew, waiting in the tunnel like a man anxious to get off somewhere else. He could at least pretend that he is bothered or would that be too much to ask, with his manager under pressure and his club struggling for the kind of form that will make them Champions League contenders?

Robinho was the worst offender in a poor City performance but he was by no means the only one. Emmanuel Adebayor blasted his only decent chance over the bar in the closing stages of the game and he failed to make a tackle when he had a chance to stop Tottenham's third goal. Kolo Touré was at the centre of a City defence that no one would describe as commanding.

This was a godforsaken City performance and Hughes knew it. The City manager twitched and gesticulated, but the uncomfortable truth was that the superstars of this £200m team Hughes has assembled are letting their manager down. In the last 10 league games they have only won once and that is not what the oilmen of Abu Dhabi had in mind come Christmas.

Last night was about putting down a marker for that fourth Champions League place that is very much up for grabs and Tottenham did so in style. They were magnificent in attack, led on the right wing by Aaron Lennon, who ushered Sylvinho towards retirement with a performance that told the Brazilian left-back that his time really is up against the best at this level.

But Niko Kranjcar stole the show with two goals, the second when he slipped the ball one side of Adebayor and nipped round the other to toe it past Shay Given at the near post. Harry Redknapp's team looked like they wanted this victory much more than their hapless opposition and by the end Hughes was momentarily on his haunches on the touchline, his head in his hands and the weight of the world on his shoulders.

It was only their second league defeat of the season but City are six points behind Aston Villa in fourth place and, realistically, talk of the title will have to wait until next season. It was the manner in which they capitulated that was most worrying for their careworn manager. A pathetic attempt to elbow Wilson Palacios was Robinho's last contribution before he took his leave.

Long before Lennon clipped over the cross that led to Tottenham's first goal, the left side and Sylvinho had been identified by Spurs as City's biggest weakness. The flecks of grey in the hair of the 35-year-old Brazilian left-back were the giveaway: he is getting old and his legs are not what they were.

With Wayne Bridge recovering from surgery, Hughes has no option but to play his second-choice left-back, who had only started one league game before last night. There are more problems. Joleon Lescott will be out for up to eight weeks after surgery to remove a piece of floating bone from his knee and that, combined with Touré's absence next month at the African Nations Cup, could mean more performances like last night.

Hughes admitted that his team were struggling with "balls that come into our box", which was a pretty damning indictment of his defence. They also had serious problems down the flanks. Spurs put together an exquisite move on eight minutes, Benoît Assou-Ekotto starting the passing sequence at the back that went via Vedran Corluka, Peter Crouch, Lennon and finally to Kranjcar, who shot wide.

Lennon saved his best cross of the first half until the 38th minute. He collected the ball from Kranjcar, beat Sylvinho and picked out Crouch at the back post. The England striker's header was blocked by Stephen Ireland and, as the ball spilt loose, Kranjcar reacted first to score from close range.

The second goal was the killer. Heurelho Gomes punted the ball from left to right into the City area, Crouch loomed over Micah Richards to head it on and Defoe buried his shot first time. City briefly burst into life in the final 10 minutes and Adebayor missed a good chance. Then Kranjcar ghosted past him for the third and it really was embarrassing for Hughes.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto (Bale, 90); Lennon, Palacios, Huddlestone, Kranjcar; Defoe (Jenas, 89), Crouch. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Hutton, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Modric.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Given; Richards, Touré, Onuoha, Sylvinho; De Jong (Petrov, 70), Barry; Ireland, Tevez, Robinho (Santa Cruz, 59); Adebayor. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Zabaleta, Benjani, Kompany, Weiss.

Referee: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Booked: Tottenham Kranjcar, Palacios; Manchester City: Sylvinho, Tevez, De Jong.

Man of the match: Lennon.

Attendance: 35,891.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?