Kranjcar 36, 90 Defoe 54
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 16 December 2009 22:30
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
It's still grim down North London. City slipped to only their second defeat of the season as their Tottenham hoodoo held firm in the pouring rain, but it was a hammer blow to Champions League aspirations.
A double from Croatian danger man Niko Kranjcar and one from Jermain Defoe made Spurs look more comfortable winners than they were, but City suffered capital punishment as they fell four points behind their rivals for a top-four spot.
It was a dark night for the men in black, from the news that first-choice centre-back Joleon Lescott could be out for up to five weeks following knee surgery to a defeat that saw them head home in eighth place in the Premier League table.
Tottenham can be maddeningly unpredictable at White Hart Lane - from that 9-1 romp over Wigan to a loss against struggling Wolves - but this will rank among their best performances of the season.
The largely ineffective Robinho trudging off down the tunnel soaked to the skin inside an hour seemed to sum up City's below-par display, which failed to benefit from a late attempted rally as Gomes saved splendidly from a Martin Petrov free kick and Manu Adebayor fluffed his best chance.
Indeed, the shining star on the night wore a white shirt, and it soon became clear that Sylvinho was in for a tough examination from Aaron Lennon, with the veteran former Barcelona man at a severe disadvantage against the England winger's pace
Tottenham were eager to continue their winning run against City - their last five home fixtures against the Blues had finished 2-1 in their favour - and repeatedly targeted Sylvinho's flank.
Eventually, injured Wayne Bridge's cultured deputy was shown his second yellow card of the season for resorting to illegal means to try and restrain his young opponent, but by then it was too late.
The Champions League winner was too often left exposed against Lennon with litle help, and inevitably it was from the quicksilver former Leeds player's run and cross that City fell behind after 36 minutes.
Peter Crouch, exploiting his height after getting the nod from Harry Redknapp ahead of Robbie Keane, won the ball in the air only to see his header come back off Stephen Ireland, but Kranjcar was on hand to prod the loose ball past Shay Given.
The goal infused Tottenham with fresh enthusiasm, and Crouch was a little unfortunate not to snatch a second goal soon after when he stretched in vain to lift a shot over the diving Given.
Prior to that, Tottenham had wasted their best chance when Defoe swept the ball well wide as the home team launched a scything counter-attack after Manu Adebayor lost possession on the edge of their area.
Defoe had looked aggrieved earlier when he went down under a Kolo Toure challenge in the area trying to chase a Crouch header, but referee Wiley had a decent view and waved the players on.
Defoe need not have worried. The tricky striker duly put Tottenham two goals clear after 54 minutes when that man Crouch won an aerial duel with Nedum Onuoha and his header was met first by Defoe, nipping in behind Blues skipper Toure.
There was little service for either Carlos Tevez or Adebayor, who snatched at his best chances to score when smarting City stepped up their bid to salvage something at two goals down.
Roque Santa Cruz had a good claim for a penalty when Michael Dawson clearly handled the ball in his bid to beat the Paraguayan to the ball, but the referee did not share the TV cameras' view
Kranjcar rubbed salt into the wound from a short corner in time added on, cheekily toe-poking the ball between Given's legs.
Nigel de Jong finally added to a bleak night for City by picking up his fifth yellow of the campaign, and the combative Dutchman will now sit out Saturday's must-win home match against Sunderland.