When Tottenham eliminated Manchester City from the 2018-19 Champions League, it went some way to making up for an unenviable record against the Sky Blues this decade. Spurs have won just five of the last 20 against City (including the first leg of that tie) and lost 13, with the most humiliating reverse coming in 2013.
On that occasion, André Villas-Boas’ team shipped six goals without reply, giving centre-backs Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul, among others, an afternoon to forget. The opening goal from Jesús Navas came very early.
So early, in fact, that instead of the usual minute-by-minute recap you might normally encounter, we’re going second-by-second.
0:00-0:01 – Roberto Soldado and Lewis Holtby get the game underway for Spurs, with Soldado touching the ground for good luck as he ambles forward. We’ll get back to that.
0:01-0:02 – Nothing to see here, just keep passing it around. Possession is important in football, after all.
0:02-0:03 – Not sure we’ve ever seen Álvaro Negredo move that quickly, before or since. There’s pressing from the front, and then there’s this. It’s like he’s one of those little wind-up cars, if they made wind-up cars the size of a leopard. Still, if Spurs keep passing the ball around then he should eventually tire himself out.
0:03-0:04 – That’s right, Younes, it is a smart move to play it back to the keeper. Sure, you could front up to Negredo but there’ every chance he’ll run straight through you like a flamethrower through a hedge and you’ll literally die. ‘Play it safe’ can mean two things at once.
0:04-0:05 – Oh, okay, that’s not a great clearance from Hugo Lloris. Can kinda see how City managed to score 12 seconds after a Spurs kickoff now.
0:05-0:06 – The time it takes for Sergio Agüero to intercept the ball and set himself for a shot: about 2.1 seconds, based on our calculations. Incidentally it takes just as long for Sandro to recognise he’s in danger. This doesn’t make for a great combination, sadly.
0:06-0:07 – Sure, just let the ball skid around a little bit longer, Sergio. It’s not like there’s a Fastest Premier League goal record to be broken or anything. It’s not like that goal was scored by a former Spurs player who’d retired from the game barely a year earlier. Oh, right.
0:07-0:08 – Woof! That’s one hell of a shot, which Lloris does pretty well to paw away. Presumably he borrowed some of Negredo’s Big Leopard Energy when the striker tried to close him down earlier.
0:08-0:09 – It’s back into a dangerous area but it’s okay – Spurs have Kaboul on the cover. The famously slow Younes Kaboul, with his famously unreliable acceleration, forced to figure out whether to block off Agüero’s run or move wide to put off Jesús Navas. Oh, shit.
0:09-0:10 – Well, the good news is Agüero isn’t going to get the ball
0:10-0:11 – Kaboul tries to block off the first-time cross while putting enough pressure on Navas to make him think a first-time shot is essential. He’s only scored once in his first 15 City games, so he’s not the guy they’ll usually turn to for precision or calm under pressure, at least not when Agüero and Negredo are in this sort of form. Time to sit back, relax and watch him blaze the ball over th…
0:11-0:12 – Huh, he’s caught that shot better than we expected. Alternatively, he’s caught that cross much, much worse than expected.
0:12-0:13 – All eyes on Lloris, now. Alright, Hugo, no pressure. Whatever you do, though, don’t just go for a star-jump and pull your hand away assuming the shot’s flying off-target. Sure, it’s Navas, but even he might get it right from time to time.
0:13-0:14 – What did we just say, Hugo? WHAT DID WE JUST SAY?
If there’s one bit of consolation for Tottenham, it’s that there wasn’t much time to dwell on that mistake as things quickly got much, much worse.
The good news for Villas-Boas is he only lost one more game in his Tottenham reign. The bad news is a) that came less than a month later, b) it was a 5-0 home loss to Liverpool and c) the Portuguese manager was sacked one day later.
Still, at least things weren’t as bad for Spurs in the reverse fixture against City… they only lost 5-1.