Manchester City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2: Frustration for Pearce as City fold

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The Independent Online

It was an afternoon of broken records and vented anger at Eastlands: Tottenham Hotspur victorious for the first time on their Premiership travels this season, and Manchester City no longer unbeaten at home.

Justice was done, with Spurs even more superior in the first half than a two-goal lead would suggest, and City abject defensively. Joey Barton's fifth goal of the season rendered the rest of the game meaningful but these clubs' fortunes continue to move in opposite directions.

Tottenham's fourth successive victory, in Martin Jol's 100th match in charge, means they have won 14 of their last 19 in all competitions and climbed to seventh. City have won only one in five, their progress stunted by a debilitating habit of starting games badly.

"I was pleased it was only 2-0 at half-time,'' said their manager Stuart Pearce, who was heckled by an irate fan at the break. "We were very poor for 45 minutes. People pay good money to come here and I was frustrated as well. If I was in his position I would have come down and vented my frustration at the manager.

"The performance of the team dictated people's reaction and rightly so today. The team were very, very poor for 45 minutes, but for the next 45 minutes I didn't hear anyone venting their frustration.''

The way Spurs bounded out of the starting blocks made a mockery of the fact it was they who had been on Thursday-night Uefa Cup duty. Not since beating Everton in April had they taken maximum points away, and it doesn't get any easier then it was in the first half here.

City did not as much lose their proud home record as surrender it gift-wrapped. When Calum Davenport's head glanced in Tom Huddlestone's curling early free-kick for his first Tottenham goal, Dimitar Berbatov had already been denied by a goal-line clearance from Sylvain Distin.

Then Berbatov, Steed Malbranque and Jermain Defoe missed clear chances before and after the visitors scored a Premiership away goal in open play for the first time this season.

The game was still only 25 minutes old when Hossam Ghaly chipped a square pass for Huddlestone - a mature performer beyond his years in the Tottenham midfield - to strike home gloriously first-time on the half-volley with his right foot from 22 yards.

The sight of opponents who had taken only three points from a possible 24 on the road causing such havoc was too much for City fans. Georgios Samaras, clad in gloves and either a black scarf or polo neck beneath his shirt, was a particular target during a contribution that did not survive beyond the loud chorus of boos at half-time, one fan being led away after getting too close to the home bench when offering advice.

City, who lost Micah Richards after half an hour with a recurrence of his dead leg, pulled one back when the admirable Barton underlined his standing as their top scorer by volleying home from Paul Dickov's deep left-wing centre.

Substantial pressure failed to bring significant other openings, though, and Spurs - despite Aaron Lennon's worrying absence because of inflammation of his knee - have now lost only two of 19 Premiership meetings of the clubs.

"We made it difficult for ourselves by not scoring one or two more,'' Jol said. "I thought we needed three to be sure. We have played a lot more matches recently and they have not, so I knew in the first half we would have to score three goals. In the end it was enough, but we made it difficult for ourselves.''

Goals: Davenport (16) 0-1; Huddlestone (25) 0-2; Barton (63) 1-2.

Manchester City (4-3-3); Weaver: Richards (Ireland, 30), Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Trabelsi, Reyna (Dabo, 69), Barton; Dickov, Samaras (Onuoha, ht) Vassell. Substitutes not used: Isaksson (gk), Miller.

Tottenham (4-4-2); Robinson; Chimbonda, Davenport, King, Lee; Ghaly, Huddlestone, Tainio, Malbranque; Defoe (Mido, 83), Berbatov. Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk) Gardner, Stalteri, O'Hara.

Referee: R Styles (Waterlooville).

Booked: Manchester City Dunne.

Man of the Match: Huddlestone.

Attendance: 39,825.

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