LONDON (AFP) – Manchester City surged 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Brentford, while Tottenham’s top four bid suffered a blow in a dramatic 3-2 defeat against Southampton early yesterday.
Pep Guardiola’s side extended their unbeaten run in the league to 14 matches thanks to Riyad Mahrez’s first half penalty and Kevin De Bruyne’s strike after the interval at the Etihad Stadium.
City were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton in their previous league game, but they got back on track to pile the pressure on second placed Liverpool.
City made six changes to the team that beat Fulham in the FA Cup last weekend, with Jack Grealish and Kyle Walker dropped just days after Guardiola was forced to defend the pair for a night out in Manchester.
Footage on social media show Grealish, Walker and Mahrez outside a venue in Manchester.
But Guardiola did not have an issue with his players, joking that they would be fined for failing to invite him.
City were unaffected by the fuss as they dominated from start to finish, finally making the breakthrough after 40 minutes.
Raheem Sterling’s run drew a rash sliding tackle from Mads Roerslav, conceding a penalty that Algeria winger Mahrez converted emphatically.
City scored the killer second goal in the 69th minute when Brentford keeper David Raya passed straight to Sterling.
Although Raya saved Sterling’s shot, Kevin De Bruyne pounced on the rebound and stroked a cool finish into the empty net.
At the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Jan Bednarek’s own goal in the 18th minute put the hosts in front.
Southampton were level five minutes later when Armando Broja side-footed past Hugo Lloris.
Son Heung-min struck for Tottenham in controversial fashion after 70 minutes.
Southampton felt Broja was fouled by Emerson Royal in the build-up, but David Coote allowed play to continue and Lucas Moura picked out Son to slide home from eight yards.
The visitors, perhaps provoked by Tottenham manager Antonio Conte’s complaints about their protests, responded impressively.
Mohamed Elyounoussi equalised with an 80th minute header from James Ward-Prowse’s cross, sending Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl running on the pitch to celebrate.
Che Adams nodded home two minutes later from another pin-point Ward-Prowse delivery.
Steven Bergwijn thought he had saved Conte from a first home league defeat with Tottenham, but his stoppage-time effort was disallowed for offside.
Tottenham remain seventh, four points adrift of fourth placed West Ham with three games in hand.