Postiga finally scores to sink City

Tottenham Hotspur 3 Manchester City 1
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The Independent Football

If, as he expects later this month, David Pleat is entrusted with the caretaker position at White Hart Lane until the end of the season, then he may just signal the Carling Cup as the silverware to earn him the job permanently.

But if Spurs are to progress past the quarter-finals, they will have to learn when a game is won. Last night in this fourth-round encounter they had Manchester City on the rack, cruising into a two-goal lead against a side which had apparently forgotten how to score, only to let them back in. Pleat will no doubt concur that this is just not good enough. Only Freddie Kanouté's added time side-footer heralded their complete safety.

City had not scored for a little under seven-and-a-half hours before last night's game and their first-half performance it was little wonder why.

City had capped a miserable four-game losing run by being knocked out of the Uefa Cup by lowly Groclin, of Poland, last week. Lowly Spurs, of north London, were no less of a handful in last night's opening exchanges and when Darren Anderton scored after nine minutes it was just deserts for an effervescent start. The England veteran seemed on the verge of volleying Rohan Ricketts' looping cross, but fooled all by bringing it down on to his unfavoured left foot before finding the corner of Kevin Stuhr-Ellegaard's net from the edge of the area. The Danish goalkeeper, at 20, is exactly half the age of David Seaman, who was ruled out with a rib injury; he has half the ability, too, judging from his lackadaisical attempt to save.

Helder Postiga, meanwhile, was finally having a night he had envisaged before his £6.25m transfer from Porto. The young Portuguese striker had gone a frustrating 12 games without a goal but on the half-hour mark finally opened his account. After seeing a rasping shot parried away by Stuhr-Ellegaard three minutes earlier Postiga made no mistake when Trevor Sinclair fluffed his attempted clearance of another Ricketts cross and summed up another half of football City would much sooner forget.

They needed to relocate the goalmouth and did so with desperate effect but no luck. Kasey Keller turned away Claudio Reyna's 25-yard drive in the 48th minute and also pushed away the diminutive midfielder's header from the six-yard line 10 minutes later. In the meantime Joey Barton had watched his shot deflect agonisingly over the crossbar and then saw a cross-goal effort scrape the paint.

That appeared that, but Robbie Fowler set up a grandstand finish by leaping above Keller to head home Doherty's bizarre skied "clearance''. Alas City were not up to it. One goal in nine hours is something, two is something else entirely.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Keller; Carr, Doherty, King, Taricco; Anderton, Gardner, Poyet (Dalmat, 85), Ricketts (Konchesky, ; Keane, Postiga (Kanouté, 70). Substitutes not used: Burch (gk), Mabizela.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Stuhr-Ellegaard; Sommeil, Distin, Dunne, Tarnat (McManaman, 71); Wright-Phillips, Barton, Reyna, Sinclair; Anelka, Fowler. Substitutes not used: Schmeichel (gk), Wiekens, Sibierski, Macken.

Referee: P Durkin (Dorset).