Match Report: Roberto Mancini jets off after Edin Dzeko shoots down Tottenham

Manchester City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Etihad Stadium

Roberto Mancini wasn’t ready to grant an audience last night. Manchester City’s manager is still bristling about a week or so of criticism, though the explanation for his absence was that his private jet to Italy awaited.

It was a shame, because this was an afternoon which revealed him to be a man in charge of his own destiny. His substitutions won the game. The shift to a three-man defence when his side went 1-0 down worked as much it did for Roberto Martinez at White Hart Lane last weekend. He could also comfortably dispense with Mario Balotelli, who was given no part in a fixture which ended last season as a pantomime, with the young striker playing the villain.

“We’re not playing to answer questions about us, but to win matches, Mancini’s assistant, David Platt, said. City’s late turnaround did both.

It wasn’t a command performance from the Premier League champions. They looked short of a creative nexus for a long time and Sergio Aguero was often isolated because, against this level of opposition, Mancini dared not risk deploying Yaya Touré in a more advanced position.

For a side of such attacking talents, the challenge Tottenham presented was also shockingly thin, despite the efforts of Emmanuel Adebayor. On paper, there really should be no contest when a team with Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon on the flanks plays one in which Aleksandr Kolarov and Maicon are the converted wingers.

But though Tottenham’s supporters chanted Bale’s name when full-back Maicon arrived from the bench, no taxi was required this time. The Brazilian was dangerous. And then came Edin Dzeko – a man likened to Juan Mata and Oscar by Andre Villas-Boas, Tottenham’s manager as he compared City’s comeback against his own side to Chelsea’s in last month’s 4-2 loss.

Dzeko has railed against the notion of being a “supersub” but six of his seven goals this season have been as a substitute and his finishes have so far salvaged Mancini nine points.

City fans loathe the name “Manchester United” cropping up in chronicles of their matches, but it is impossible not to compare the way that they are displaying that champion quality of coming from behind to win – something they have achieved four times this season, to United’s eight in all competitions. And in the Bosnian, they also have the equivalent of United’s effervescent substitute Javier Hernandez.

“Against Chelsea, individual brilliance made the difference and, to have a player of so strong as Dzeko to come on in the final minutes, is to their great credit,” Villas-Boas said.

The praise was merited because Dzeko was more than a poacher. His decisive goal should not obscure the immaculate first time back-heel which diverted a throw-in into Sergio Aguero’s path, seven minutes from time, requiring Brad Friedl to save well with his legs from the Argentine.

Dzeko also made the opportunity he scored – racing 15 yards towards goal, finding David Silva and disappearing to receive the return pass to finish.

If the finale provided an echo of the midweek draw against Ajax, then so did the set-piece goal which sent City behind. Mancini would not have been delighted to hear Glenn Hoddle, the former England manager, explaining from his television studio seat at half-time about how mending the holes in his defence simply entailed putting out four cones in training, but City have now conceded more than five to set-pieces. Liverpool, Arsenal and Ajax, twice, have all capitalised.

“We always mark like that but it’s just that we have got get our head on the ball first,” said Platt, in defence of City’s zonal system.

However, there were enough serial offenders to raise questions about the value that is being added by Mancini’s defensive coach Angelo Gregucci. When Tom Huddlestone’s excellent measured free-kick was lofted in, Kolarov was facing away from Steven Caulker, who easily peeled away to thump in the header, ahead of Matija Nastasic, which goalkeeper Joe Hart might have blocked.

City would have been level by the interval had not two good penalty shouts, for a William Gallas handball and Tom Huddlestone impeding Pablo Zabaleta’s progress into the Tottenham area, been turned down. Platt thought the first was a penalty, the second merely obstruction.

A desperation was entering City’s play in the second half when Spurs’ slackness contributed to their own downfall, Kyle Walker diverting an over-hit Silva pass into Touré’s path. He found Aguero who delivered a slide-rule finish to equalise. Dzeko then stepped up to do the rest.

“This shows that there is a belief that we don’t go under,” Platt said. “We don’t get motivated because people say things.” But Mancini had proved a point, even if he was not willing to say as much.

Bookings: Manchester City - Zabaleta. Tottenham - Walker, Adebayor

Man of the Match Silva

Match Rating 7/10

Possession: MC 62%. Tot 38%

Referee M Oliver (Northumberland)

Attendance 47,208

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week