A tough week for Manchester City and Tottenham, two of the rebel clubs in the aborted Super League project, got even more complicated when they fell behind on their return to Premier League action on Wednesday.
Both teams recovered to register vital wins and leave them in good spirits for their next match – their meeting at Wembley Stadium for the English League Cup final on Sunday.
City fought back from conceding a goal after just 20 seconds to beat Aston Villa 2-1 and move 11 points clear in its march to a third league title in four years.
Each side had a man sent off at Villa Park, with City defender John Stones’ straight red card for a reckless lunge late in the first half ruling him out for three matches – starting with the cup final.
Tottenham needed a 90th-minute penalty from Son Heung-min to clinch a 2-1 victory over Southampton and close to within two points of fourth-place Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.
It was an excellent way for Ryan Mason to start his interim tenure as manager and replace the fired Jose Mourinho. At 29 years, 312 days, Mason became the youngest person to manage a team in a Premier League game, a proud moment for the former Tottenham midfielder who was forced to retire in 2018 after failing to fully recover from a fractured skull sustained during an FA Cup match.
They were the first games for City and Tottenham since they were pressured into withdrawing from a breakaway Super League, which they had formed with 10 of Europe’s other elite clubs.
A small band of supporters protested outside Tottenham’s stadium ahead of the match against Southampton, calling for the removal of chairman Daniel Levy and the club’s owners, the ENIC Group.
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