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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmCritic Kaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
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

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes