Leaders Manchester City shrugged off a bitterly disappointing week to beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday and move to within three points of sealing the Premier League title.
City, who were deprived of wrapping up the title in dream fashion last weekend when they lost at home to Manchester United and were then knocked out of the Champions League 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool on Tuesday, were two up after 25 minutes as they hit back with a vengeance.
Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after Vincent Kompany’s long pass opened up Tottenham’s defence.
Ilkay Gundogan slotted home a penalty three minutes later after Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris raced out of his goal and upended Raheem Sterling though television replays suggested his wild tackle was just outside the area.
Christian Eriksen’s goal shortly before halftime offered fourth-placed Tottenham a route back into the game but Sterling lashed home from close range in the 72nd minute to deflate the hosts who had threatened a comeback.
City may well have to wait another week to start celebrating a third title in seven seasons although it could happen as soon as Sunday in the unlikely event of Manchester United losing at home to bottom club West Bromwich Albion.
It could also happen if United lose to Bournemouth in midweek but manager Pep Guardiola said he hoped it could be in front of the home fans against Swansea City next weekend.
“We will try hard to be champions in front of our fans at the Etihad Stadium because they deserve it,” Guardiola said.
Tottenham, who had gone 14 matches unbeaten in the league since losing 4-1 at City in December, are seven points above fifth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.
Guardiola praised the mentality of his team who responded to their first crisis of the season with a stunning opening burst to leave Tottenham floundering.
They could have been ahead long before Jesus’s opener as Tottenham struggled to cope with City’s slick movement and wasted several opportunities after the break.
“People who say it was a big fail last week don’t understand absolutely anything about football,” Guardiola said.
“In general, the performance was again outstanding — and that’s the level we have had all season.”
Guardiola said winning his first Premier League title would match anything he achieved at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“If we are able to win the Premier League it will be one of the best three seasons I have ever lived as a player and a manager,” he said.
“The amount of goals, chances, points, to do that in the Premier League with the contenders that we have it is because the players are so, so good.”
“That’s why winning in this way, hopefully next Sunday it will remain in our hearts for the rest of our life.”