In the grand scheme of things, this fixture meant more to the home side than it did to the travelling Manchester City.
With Manchester United already having one hand on the Premier League title, realistically, the only thing that City could hope to do was delay the celebrations of their neighbours.
Spurs started the game with a sense of urgency that portrayed this. They hustled and harried, and attempted to initiate attacks of purpose. But this was to be short lived.
A swift counter saw Carlos Tevez run away down the City right, but with Vertonghen and Parker in hot pursuit, the danger hardly seemed imminent.
Tevez, in the corner, was allowed to turn, and even though his delicate reverse pass to James Milner was of the highest quality, Tottenham’s defending left a lot to be desired.
Milner got his head up quickly and picked out Samir Nasri – who finished calmly on the volley. For Spurs’ good start, they found themselves a goal down inside five minutes.
This was to be a huge test of character for AVB’s men and a huge test of nerve for the home support.
But just as the home side, the home support reacted magnificently. They held their nerve and passionately roused their team.
Tottenham came back into the game, creating half-chances and openings without ever really putting City on the rack.
Walker went close after a brilliant through ball by Dempsey - who later powered a header just over from a Spurs corner.
But City looked dangerous on the counter, with Nasri close to grabbing a second, working himself an opening before poking the ball the wrong side of the Spurs’ post. It was beginning to look like the perfect away performance from City.
The second half started much like the first – a fairly even affair with clear cut chances few and far between.
It is in trying times such these that managers show their worth and truly earn their stripes. In such a crucial game, a manager needs to be proactive in order to change the tide – and AVB did exactly this.
Adebayor was ineffective, Sigurdsson was struggling to make an impression out wide and Scott Parker has looked a shadow of his former self since returning from a long lay-off.
Replacing the three with, Huddlestone, Holtby and Defoe, with nearly half an hour left on the clock, changed the course of the game.
Huddlestone ran the show, with a range of passing Xabi Alonso would be proud of. Holtby was busy and Defoe offered some previously lacking cutting edge.
Spurs’ main man, Gareth Bale, had been quiet by his lofty standards, but it was his pin-point cross that picked out Dempsey at the far post to level for the home side in the seventy-fifth minute.
The crowd roared and carried their team, urging them to put City to the sword – they weren’t to be disappointed.
Minutes later, Defoe latched on to a Holtby through ball, before squaring up City defender Vincent Kompany and firing the ball past a helpless Joe Hart.
The game was sealed in the eighty-fifth minute as Tom Huddlestone slid a perfectly weighted through ball between two City defenders. It was picked up by Bale, who skilfully dinked the ball over an onrushing Hart to make it 3-1.
Spurs had the victory that they so desperately needed and whilst there is still a long way to go, it sets up a fascinating end to the season and the fight for Champions League football.
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