Published: 22 January, 2017
by ALLAN LEDWARD at the Etihad Stadium
MAN CITY 2, SPURS 2
MAURICIO Pochettino admitted his side were fortunate to come away with a point after goals from Dele Alli and Son earned an unlikely 2-2 draw at Manchester City.
The Spurs boss also dismissed City's claims for a second-half penalty, in what turned out to be the pivotal moment in the game - and Saturday's big talking point - when Raheem Sterling, clean through with only Hugo Lloris to beat, was pushed by Kyle Walker - referee Andre Marriner waved play on after the destabilised Sterling shot tamely at Lloris.
"For me, it wasn't a penalty," said Pochettino.
"It's a huge point for us. I think Manchester City were better than us. We didn't play the way we wanted to play."
Spurs ended the match with Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama playing in central defence, after defenders Kevin Wimmer and Toby Alderweireld were taken off. And Pochettino praised his players' flexibility.
"We have good players who can play in different positions, like Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama," he added. "It's a good balance that we have."
Despite being the form side, and with City still reeling from last week's shock 4-0 defeat at Everton, Spurs froze on a chilly evening in east Manchester - the opening 45 minutes was perhaps their poorest half of the season. In a reorganised defence, Wimmer came in for Jan Vertonghen, while Eric Dier often dropped deep to assist against City's busy creative players.
In sharp contrast, Mousa Dembele, Victor Wanyama and Christian Eriksen looked sluggish, and the ball rarely made it far enough forward to give Alli and Harry Kane the chance to test City's wobbly defence.
Spurs, backed by strong travelling support, were behind within four minutes of the second half when a measured pass over the top of their defence forced Lloris to race out and play an unconvincing centre-half role. The goalkeeper could only head against Leroy Sane, giving the City man the easy job of rolling the ball into the net.
And City were two up before Spurs got the chance to respond, when Lloris fumbled a low cross from Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne poked the ball into the net.
City, perhaps believing that they'd done enough against their dormant visitors, allowed Spurs back into the match in the 58th minute. After a rare touch for Kane, Kyle Walker's whipped cross was headed in by Alli, arriving in the box with perfect timing.
City continued to enjoy most of the possession and Walker's controversial shove on Sterling further cranked up the touchline frustratons of Pep Guardiola with 15 minutes left.
Seconds later, Spurs were level. Eriksen and Kane combined neatly to give Son the chance to sweep in the equaliser.
Pochettino was understandably grateful for the point, but his focus will now turn to finding a solution to a brittle backline that appeared to send indecision through the team.
SPURS: Lloris, Walker, Rose, Adlerweireld (Winks, 65), Kane, Wanyama, Dier, Dembele (Sissoko , 78), Alli, Eriksen, Wimmer (Son, 45).