Substitute Gabriel Jesus had an injury-time goal ruled out by VAR as Tottenham left Manchester City with a 2-2 draw, scoring with their only two shots on target in a thrilling game at the Etihad stadium.
Jesus looked to have extended City’s winning Premier League run to 16 games with an effort on the stretch, but a handball in the lead up by Aymeric Laporte meant Spurs benefited from VAR again, just four months after their historic Champions League quarter-final at the Etihad stadium.
City went ahead on Saturday evening through Raheem Sterling’s deft far-post header from a superb Kevin De Bruyne cross (20), but Spurs were soon level as Erik Lamela’s low, curling effort from 20 yards found the bottom corner (23).
The champions went into the half ahead through Sergio Aguero’s sweeping close-range finish, again from De Bruyne’s wondrous right-wing delivery (35), but Spurs levelled again through Lucas Moura’s header, his first touch after being subbed on (56).
Aguero and Pep Guardiola looked to be involved in a heated argument as the striker was subbed off with 25 minutes remaining for Jesus, but the manager’s decision looked to be vindicated — until the Brazilian’s late effort was ruled out.
City players wore No 19 Leroy Sane shirts in the warm-up in support of the injured German winger, but his absence did not impact the hosts in the first half as De Bruyne stole the show.
Spurs struggled to get out of their half early on as City had a shout for a penalty turned down when Lamela shoved Rodri, but the visitors were soon punished. De Bruyne’s first-time cross from the right was expertly tucked home by the head of Sterling, arriving unmarked at the back post for his fifth in three games.
Spurs equalised against the run of play as Lamela found the bottom corner, thanks to some suspect positioning from goalkeeper Ederson, but besides that City had the best of it, reducing Harry Kane to just one touch in the final third in the first half.
The De Bruyne show then continued. Picking up the ball on the right, the Belgian’s fierce, low cross found the arriving Aguero to touch home past Hugo Lloris from a few yards.
The city lay siege on Spurs’ goal after the break as Lloris saved from Oleksandr Zinchenko and then Bernardo Silva, who should have done better from close range, but with only their second shot on goal, Spurs levelled as Moura nodded over Ederson from a Lamela corner.
The hosts then hit the bar through Bernardo Silva’s hooked rebound from 15 yards, while Aguero looked annoyed at Guardiola as he was subbed off for Jesus, who went close with a header in the closing stage.
Jesus then thought he had won it, sweeping home on the stretch from eight yards through a crowd of players, but the Etihad’s delirium turned to despair as the VAR informed Michael Oliver that Laporte had handled in the build-up, sending Spurs fans into raptures just seconds after some travelling supporters had turned to leave the stadium.
City fans were critical of the decision after seeing the incident on the big screens at the Etihad, while Spurs fans were singing “VAR, my lord, VAR!” for the second time in five months at this ground as they escaped with a draw that must have felt like a victory.