At the conclusion of the previous season, Pep Guardiola was questioned about any remaining accomplishments he may strive for if his Manchester City squad were to achieve the Treble. He jokingly responded with “Score a goal against Spurs away.”
The Champions League final saw City emerge victorious over Internazionale, solidifying their place in history. After numerous attempts, City finally found success at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium by scoring their first goal and achieving their first result.
Before this, they had lost all five matches, which was a strange and difficult to understand pattern. However, they were able to break this streak and boost their chances of winning the FA Cup by scoring a much-needed goal in the final moments of the game.
Guglielmo Vicario, the goalkeeper for the Spurs, was responsible for the mistake. He was under pressure from Rúben Dias during a corner kick from Kevin De Bruyne, who was brought in as a substitute in the 65th minute by Guardiola. Vicario believed there was a foul, but it was not called and his weak punch allowed Aké to score.
The last time a player from City scored a goal at the current Spurs stadium was in September 2015, when De Bruyne accomplished the feat. This includes the period when the London club had to play at Wembley while their own stadium was being rebuilt.
De Bruyne seemed poised to score the first goal as City pressed aggressively in the final moments of the game. Both Bernardo Silva and substitute Jérémy Doku took shots that were too close to Vicario, while De Bruyne had a major opportunity in between. As Spurs struggled to play from the back, Phil Foden stole the ball from Pierre-Emile Højbjerg. De Bruyne received the ball and all eyes were on his shot towards the bottom corner, but it ended up going wide. It felt like City would never score, but Aké had a different plan.
The City team dominated the game and ended with 18 shots compared to Spurs’s one. It would have been impressive if Tottenham had managed to force a rematch, but the harsh reality for Ange Postecoglou was that his team left without putting up much of a fight. He had hoped to see them take control of the game. There is no better way to gauge improvement than by seeing if it is possible to compete against the top teams. Unfortunately, that was not the case as Spurs’s best efforts were only enough to hold on, and Guardiola’s comments after the game were concerning.
Guardiola expressed that his team has regained their motivation to win every game, as they have been able to do so five times in a row since their triumphant comeback from the Fifa Club World Cup. He stated, “We are back on track.”
The City team was present from the beginning. They reached the location at 6:50pm, much later than they had hoped due to heavy traffic in the area. However, they wasted no time and immediately put pressure on Spurs during the first 20 minutes.
If Oscar Bobb had not been called offside after Vicario partially saved from Phil Foden and the ball slowly rolled towards the goal, they would have been in the lead early on. Bobb barely touched it from just a few feet away, but after a lengthy pause, the VAR confirmed the close call. Would the ball have gone into the goal without Bobb’s touch? It appeared that it would have.
What was odd about the opening portion was that despite City’s confident and graceful style of play, they had difficulty producing any significant scoring opportunities. Despite attempts from Bernardo Silva and Mateo Kovacic, their shots were blocked, and even Pep Guardiola showed frustration when Josko Gvardiol’s cross missed its mark. Guardiola turned sharply, visibly irritated. City’s build-up had been elegant, almost like a ballet.
The audience at the home stadium cheered when Micky van de Ven made a powerful challenge on Foden. However, their excitement was even greater when Pedro Porro made a crucial block to stop a shot from Bobb in the 42nd minute. Prior to this, Rodri and Kovacic had their attempts blocked during the play.
After the game resumed, City maintained their control of the ball, with Foden’s smooth handling being a pleasure to watch. On the other hand, Spurs remained active even without possession. The crowd erupted in excitement as Van de Ven deflected a shot from Julián Álvarez out of bounds in the final moments.
The initial teams were noteworthy, partly due to the absence of certain players. Postecoglou decided to keep James Maddison on the bench, only bringing him in as a substitute in the 73rd minute after recovering from a 12-week ankle injury. Meanwhile, De Bruyne was also left on the sidelines.
Can Tottenham provide any opportunities in the attacking third? Timo Werner made a pass that sent Brennan Johnson running towards the goal, and he was able to touch the ball just as Manchester City’s backup goalkeeper, Stefan Ortega, came to block it. Johnson’s shot was considered on target, but it ended up being his team’s only attempt on goal.
Postecoglou had previously stated with certainty that there would be both scoring and excitement. It seemed unlikely that the game would end in a tie. However, thanks to Aké, that was not the case.