Manchester City pulled off a dizzying second-half comeback to beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League on Thursday night.
Goals after the break from City’s Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and a Riyad Mahrez brace nullified strikes from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal that put Tottenham up at the end of the first half.
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Ahead of the game, City boss Pep Guardiola called this a must-win affair for his side, which came in sitting second in the Premier League and having lost twice in a row following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Manchester United and an exit from the Carabao Cup at the hands of Southampton on Jan. 11.
However, Guardiola would be left disappointed by the end of a first half that saw City create several chances through Haaland only for Kulusevski and Emerson to strike just before the break to stake Tottenham to a 2-0 lead after 45 minutes.
The mood changed quickly in the City dugout right as the second half began, though, as City came roaring out of the dressing room and drew level with goals from Alvarez and Haaland before the 55-minute mark.
The goal took Haaland’s league haul to 22 for the season — the most by a City player in a single league campaign under Guardiola, with 19 league games still left to play.
City took a deserved lead soon after with some nifty work by Mahrez on the right flank, as the Algerian settled a switched ball from the left with a clever touch, raced into the area and beat Hugo Lloris at his near post from a tight angle to make it 3-2 in favour of the hosts.
Mahrez then iced the game with his second shortly before full-time, fending off a defender nipping at his heels and beating Lloris with a deft chip to reach the final scoreline.
“You think about everything when you are down at half-time,” Mahrez told Sky Sports. “I think we played good in the first half. All we had against us was the two goals we conceded.
“When we came back, we were frustrated. We have done it before. We have come back from two goals behind in the past. We showed what and who we are and had a bit of luck too. We deserved the win.”
The result helped City cut Arsenal’s lead at the top of the table to five points, while Antonio Conte’s struggling Spurs will be left wondering what might have been as they slipped five points behind fourth-placed Newcastle United for the final Champions League place.
“We played a good game with personality,” Spurs boss Antonio Conte told Sky Sports. “We put a lot of pressure on City and created problems for them. They are always really difficult to play but I am disappointed too.
“I hate losing — especially when we scored the two goals first.”