Manchester City produced a stunning second half comeback to beat Tottenham 4-2 and prevent a potential fatal blow to their Premier League title defence on Thursday.
Two goals in three minutes just before half-time from Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal saw City staring down the barrel of a second consecutive defeat.
But Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez struck in a 12-minute period early in the second period before Mahrez added his second late on to move Pep Guardiola’s men to within five points of leaders Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
A third defeat in four league games leaves Tottenham still five points adrift of the top four.
Guardiola’s team selection was initially questioned after he made five changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Manchester United in controversial circumstances on Saturday.
Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva were among the star names dropped to the bench as Alvarez was paired alongside Haaland in a change of system.
Tottenham have made a habit of having to come from behind after slow starts this season, but the roles were reversed as City took 45 minutes to find their rhythm.
Spurs’ half-time lead owed much to uncharacteristic City mistakes.
Ederson’s wayward pass to Rodri played the Spanish midfielder into trouble and the ball eventually dropped to Kulusevski to slot in his first goal since the opening day of the season.
Moments later Rodri was dispossessed inside his own box again by a Harry Kane tackle and when Ederson parried his shot, Emerson headed in the rebound.
Guardiola stuck to his guns at half-time rather than sending on the cavalry from the bench and it paid off as the champions took just 18 minutes to turn the game around.
Alvarez started the fightback as the Argentine kept a cool head amid a goalmouth scramble to find the roof of the net.
Within two minutes the hosts were level as Haaland ended his three-game goal drought by heading in Mahrez’s ball across the face of goal.
It was Tottenham who should have struck next as Ivan Perisic’s shot from Kulusevski’s inviting cross deflected off Rico Lewis onto the post.
Instead, it was City who got the decisive fifth goal with questions set to be asked again of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The former French captain’s own goal handed Arsenal the perfect start at the weekend and he was beaten again at his near post, although Mahrez’s strike did take a deflection off Ben Davies.
Mahrez then took his tally since the World Cup break to six goals in seven games as he anticipated a slack touch from Clement Lenglet and this time left Lloris with no chance with a dinked finish over the advancing goalkeeper.
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