It will come as small consolation to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola that even in defeat on Saturday evening he was proved right not once but twice. Right not only that his prolonged summer pursuit of Harry Kane who produced a masterclass at the Etihad which lit up the night was the correct call.
But right also in his insistence during the last few weeks despite a yawning gap at the top of the table that the title race was not run with Liverpool lurking in second.
Kane was the difference between City and Tottenham and might have had four goals on a day which, after his protracted dance with City last summer, will long have been circled on his kitchen calendar.
The two he took were superb – one an effortless finish teed up by Heung-min Son and the second, rising above Kyle Walker to deep in injury time to nod home the winner.
In between Kane was denied by a brilliant block from Ederson and had another chalked off by VAR after Dejan Kulusevski strayed marginally offside in the build-up.
If his last touch confirmed a rare defeat for City – only their third of the season – Guardiola was adamant that defeat will double their resolve not weaken it.
“I never said the title race was over. It will be difficult,” he said. “We know it but today it’s happened – we lost a game. We were close to draw, and maybe winning, but congratulations to Spurs.
“But we didn’t need to lose a game already to know how hard it is to win the league. We have to fight for every game and every game we are going to win we will be closer.
“I said weeks ago we have to make a lot of points to be champions and this is what we will try to do.”
For those on Merseyside excited at the prospect of just a six-point gap and a visit to the Etihad on April 9 to come, City’s usual reaction to defeat might act as a brake on optimism.
Last time they were beaten in the league – by Crystal Palace in late October – they went on a 12-match winning run which stretched to mid-January.
With 12 more matches to come in the top flight the maths and the possible outcome is obvious and few would bet their house against City doing just that.
Guardiola’s side were out of sorts against a well-organised Spurs who defended narrow and counter-attacked with great skill.
Kulusevski marked his first Premier League start with some lovely crosses and Spurs opening goal after brilliant link-up between Son and Kane.
City’s goals came from Ilkay Gundogan and from the penalty spot after Bernardo Silva’s cross was blocked by the hand of Cristian Romero, Riyad Mahrez doing the honours from the spot.
For Spurs boss Antonio Conte, who celebrated wildly when Kane’s winner hit the net, this was a win to give his side confidence as well as keeping them in the hunt for fourth place.
And it was a win which he hoped proved to his side that the work they are doing on the training ground is right.
“This type of performance has to give us confidence. We showed that we are working very well, that we are creating a stable team,” he said.
“In my opinion, in my experience, to give good results, you have be stable, not up and down.”
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