Jose Mourinho acknowledged Tottenham's 4-1 win over Wolfsberger was not "incredible", but insisted it will bring positivity to his squad.

Son Heung-min, Gareth Bale, Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius scored in an ultimately routine win in Budapest on Thursday, as Spurs took a huge stride towards reaching the last 16 of the Europa League.

 Michael Liendl's 55th-minute penalty complicated matters slightly for Mourinho, but his side were comfortable as they earned just a second win in their last seven games across all competitions.

With a London derby up against West Ham next up for Spurs, Mourinho – who has been eliminated from just one of his 17 previous European knockout ties when winning the first leg, going out in the 2006-07 Champions League semi-final against Liverpool – conceded the performance was not perfect, but believes the victory provides a much-needed boost.

"We had to come and play with ambition which we did. The score should have been more than 3-0 at half-time," Mourinho told reporters.

"In the second half we made that mistake that gave them life. There were some similarities with [the FA Cup tie with] Everton.

"If you're in control and make a mistake you give the opposition life and the game can change – here it didn't change, but the 3-2 was not far from happening.

"We had good control of the game. Lots of chances. I believe the last goal put almost a period on this tie. 4-1 away is a very good result.

"I don't consider this an incredible victory, just a good victory that brings good feelings. By flying back, the plane will be a different plane than after a defeat. Tomorrow morning in training, the same."

Bale turned in an impressive display in the first half, setting up Son's opener before arrowing in Spurs' second himself.

The Wales forward's five goals this season have all been at different stadiums – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Linzer Stadion, bet365 Stadium, Adams Park and Puskas Arena – while it was the first time the 31-year-old has both scored and assisted in a game for Spurs since April 2013.

Son, meanwhile, moved onto 18 goals for the season in total with his opener, matching his tally from last season in all competitions, and the South Korea star, who has enjoyed a supreme relationship with Harry Kane this season, revelled in playing alongside an in-form Bale.

"I have a really close relationship with him," Son said.

"I'm very happy he's getting game time and scored a goal and got an assist. I really enjoy playing with him."

Tottenham took control of their Europa League round-of-32 tie against Wolfsberger with ease as Gareth Bale impressed in a 4-1 victory in Budapest on Thursday.

On the same ground where Liverpool beat RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday, Spurs dismantled their Austrian opponents with a superb first-half display.

Bale was integral, teeing up Son Heung-min's opener before doubling Spurs' lead with a fine finish.

Lucas Moura put Spurs further ahead and even though Moussa Sissoko's lapse amid a disjointed second-half performance from Spurs allowed Michael Liendl to pull one back from the penalty spot, substitute Carlos Vinicius restored the three-goal cushion.

 

Kylian Mbappe's future is in his own hands after showing the world what he is capable of while scoring a hat-trick in Paris Saint-Germain's 4-1 Champions League demolition of Barcelona.

With his contract in the French capital set to expire in June 2022, Mbappe ultimately has the choice of either signing a new deal or leaving his hometown team – and the World Cup winner has been non-committal so far.

Should the 22-year-old sensation decide to take his career abroad, there will be no shortage of suitors, with four European giants ready to swoop.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL, MANCHESTER CITY, REAL MADRID, JUVENTUS EYE IN-DEMAND MBAPPE

If PSG cannot persuade Mbappe to sign a long-term extension, they will not want to lose a world-class talent without a fee, so the Ligue 1 champions have placed a €200million (£173m) tag on his head, according to Le Parisien.

Le Parisien reports the price may not deter the Frenchman's admirers, who include Premier League rivals Manchester City and LiverpoolReal Madrid and Juventus.

While those clubs may want him, it is unclear if all of them would be able to afford Mbappe, who is set to make more than €30m per year gross on his next contract. Reports claim PSG will aim to price their Champions League rivals out of a deal.

Jose Mourinho has offered his backing to Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris, who he believes ranks among the finest goalkeepers in the world.

Lloris shipped eight goals last week, with his performance in a 3-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Manchester City coming under scrutiny after Spurs came out on the wrong side of a 5-4 FA Cup thriller at Everton.

Joe Hart is expected to return for Thursday's Europa League round-of-32 meeting with Wolfsberger, although Mourinho does not feel Lloris' status as first choice is under immediate threat from the ex-England number one.

"When a player is a top player, one or two or three mistakes does not make him not a top player. That is the most important thing," Mourinho told a pre-match news conference before highlighting some of Alisson's recent struggles at Liverpool.

"I shouldn't speak about it because he's not my goalkeeper, but I don't think he will take it on the wrong side: for me Alisson is one of the top five best goalkeepers in the world and in the previous matches he made big mistakes.

"But he is one of the top five in the world, in my opinion, and Hugo is the same. He is an amazing goalkeeper who is performing super consistently since he recovered from that fracture.

"During all my time here he is playing so, so well. If he had responsibility on one or another of the goals we conceded recently he is still the same goalkeeper, he is my number one choice and has all my trust and confidence.

"In Joe Hart's case I am happy he played already nine matches this season. He's a goalkeeper that I totally trust too."

Among goalkeepers to have played five or more games in the Premier League this season, Lloris ranks fifth in terms of save percentage (74) behind Nick Pope, Emiliano Martinez, Robert Sanchez and Ederson.

He has only made one error leading to a goal and is outperforming his expected goals on target (xGOT) conceded of 19.7, as per Opta, having let in 17 goals excluding penalties and own goals.

Lloris' cumulative goals prevented figure of 2.7 comes thanks to 71 saves from 88 shots on target faced in the top flight.

Dwindling form either side of Christmas left Spurs languishing ninth in the Premier League.

Yet they are still only six points shy of fourth-placed Chelsea with a game in hand and Mourinho rejected the suggestion that the Europa League represents his team's best hope of securing Champions League qualification.

 "It's difficult in any case but it's possible in both cases," he said. "Fourth position in the Premier League is, of course, very difficult but is not mathematically impossible.

"Last season we were in a very, very bad position to get in the Europa League spots. In the end we made it in the last minute of the last game, but we made it.

"Our motivation last season was that, while it was mathematically possible, we had to go. We chased it until the last game which is the same thing we are going to do."

He added: "In the Europa League there are an incredible number of matches. We are only in the last 32. It is a strong competition with very good teams.

"But it is open. We are one of the 32 teams who have a chance to win and we are going to try."

Thursday's match has been moved to the Puskas Arena in Budapest due to COVID-19 restrictions in Austria.

Manchester United are making plans for Paul Pogba's departure and may have already identified the Frenchman's replacement in Real Madrid's Federico Valverde.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injuries this season, while veteran midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have been in vintage form for LaLiga's champions.

Valverde has only started 12 games in all competitions this season, but the Uruguayan has impressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer enough for United to step up their efforts to bring him to Old Trafford this off-season.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE VALVERDE TO PLUG MIDFIELD

Valverde has shown his class while featuring in 89 games during his three seasons in the Spanish capital and has turned heads at United.

The Red Devils are said to admire his energy and box-to-box qualities as they seek a long-term solution to lock down a place in the centre of Solskjaer's midfield, according to The Sun.

One snag in the recruitment drive could be the Uruguay international's buy-out clause of a staggering £148million, though United can offer him a major improvement on his current £120,000 per week wage.

Premier League action coincided with Valentine's Day this weekend and Southampton ended a long drought of a particular kind on the most romantic day of the year.

There was also an impressive scoring feat for an Arsenal striker to enjoy on February 14, as the Gunners sent the White Roses of Leeds United back to Yorkshire with their tails between their legs.

A Valentine's Day chocolate variety set was the only box Harry Kane got near this weekend after a tricky time of it against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, as Ilkay Gundogan continued his remarkable run.

All the above feature in our quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action!

SAINTS' VALENTINE'S CARD AND AUBA'S RETURN TO FORM

It's usually nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day – the only exceptions are if they're tokens of sympathy from your mother, or handed out to you by a referee.

Until this year, Southampton were the only Premier League side to play a match on Valentine's Day and not receive a card, but that changed when Graham Scott booked Oriol Romeu in Saints' 2-1 defeat to Wolves. Coincidentally, that was the Spaniard's 51st Premier League yellow card since the start of 2015-16, 11 more than any player.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a rather more enjoyable Valentine's Day, however, as the Arsenal man scored his first Premier League hat-trick in their 4-2 defeat of Leeds United.

He joined Michael Owen and Matt Le Kissier, sorry, Le Tissier as the only players to net trebles in the Premier league on Valentine's Day.

GUNDOGAN GUNNING FOR GOALS

To say anyone predicted Ilkay Gundogan establishing himself as one of the Premier League's deadliest marksman would be a heinous lie… Yet, here we are – he is.

In fact, the German's form isn't bettered by anyone else across Europe's top five leagues in 2021, as his brace against Tottenham took him to nine goals since the turn of the year.

Andre Silva of Eintracht Frankfurt is the only player to match that haul across the same period, but his conversion rate is nothing compared to Gundogan's.

The City star, who has been playing a more advanced role lately, has converted 47.4 per cent of his shots since January 1 – among players to have scored at least five times this year, that is the fifth highest. It is a better record than those of Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Given the rate he's going at, Gundogan may now have an eye on the all-time record for German players in a single Premier League season – Jurgen Klinsmann (20) and Uwe Rosler (15, both in 1994-95) are the only ones to score more than 11.

KANE FORCED TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

It was another miserable outing for Tottenham at the weekend as their 3-0 loss at City consigned them to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games, as many as they had suffered in their previous 28.

Harry Kane endured a particularly frustrating day, as he was starved of service and found himself roaming as a result, hardly conducive to getting opportunities in the danger area.

In fact, he failed to touch the ball once inside the penalty area, which is practically unheard of for Kane.

It was only the fourth occasion of Kane failing to touch the ball in the box in a league game he started.

SAKA'S TEENAGE KICKS

Bukayo Saka has been a standout performer for Arsenal for quite a while, not just this season. However, in 2020-21 he has arguably taken his influence up a level.

He was a livewire against Leeds at the weekend, winning Arsenal's first-half penalty shortly after he was perhaps cruelly denied another by the VAR.

His performance further highlighted how much influence he has despite not turning 20 for more than six months – he is the youngest player in the Premier League this term to score five goals, be involved in at least seven goals, create 25 chances and complete 30 dribbles.

There has been plenty of talk recently about whether he will get himself into the England squad for the delayed Euro 2020 later this year – at the moment, you'd have to say he'd be unlucky to miss out.

Roses are red, violets are blue, have we got the perfect Valentine's Day content for you!

Questionable rhymes aside (okay, very questionable), love is in the air as long-standing couples and newly formed relationships celebrate the day of romance on Sunday.

The world of football is certainly no stranger to the language of love, so before you crack open a bottle of red and exchange cheap knock-off gifts with your significant other why not get some inspiration for love with our Valentine's Day facts with some help from Cupid!

(Well not Cupid, Opta – but the team at Opta are full of love!)

MATT LE KISS-IER LOVES TO SCORE ON VALENTINE'S DAY

Valentine's Day is of course a day for love (and overpaying for those last-minute flowers and cards you forgot to buy…).

Two players have been particularly good at spreading the joy on February 14th with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier and ex-Liverpool striker Michael Owen each scoring three times in the Premier League on this date – the most of all players.

Here's something even more interesting about that stat, though – each man's tally is a result of scoring a Valentine's Day hat-trick.

Le Tissier registered three against the Reds back in 1994, while Owen took home the match ball with a treble versus Sheffield Wednesday four years later.

Owen's three goals are part of 12 Liverpool have tallied on the day of love – comfortably the most by a team. Arsenal follow on seven, with Aston Villa and Southampton on four.

A ROSE FOR THE LADY?

Flowers are synonymous with Valentine's Day but none more so than the rose.

Two players named Rose have plied their trade in the Premier League – Danny (194 appearances) and Matthew (five appearances). The former, of course, is an England international who with his marauding runs from full-back has often been a, ahem, thorn in the side of opponents…

There are other love-themed names to have featured in the top flight. Valentino Lazaro played 13 times in the Premier League for Newcastle United on loan last term, while Valentin Roberge made 10 appearances for north east rivals Sunderland.

The Black Cats also had Donald Love on their books, the defender having previously represented Manchester United once in the top flight.

FOXES RACK UP THE CARDS

Whether from a partner or a secret admirer, it's always nice to receive a card or two on Valentine's Day.

Unless of course you're playing in the Premier League, in which case you want to see the referee keep their cards in their pockets.

In this regard, Leicester City have not been overly successful – the seven yellow cards representing the most received by a team on Valentine's Day. Arsenal follow closely behind with six, with Manchester City on four.

The Foxes also fare badly when it comes to red cards, having picked up two on February 14th – Danny Simpson and Hamza Choudhury account for those dismissals. The only other player to have been sent off on Valentine's Day is Everton hero Duncan Ferguson ... no, we weren't shocked either.

THE BEST BROMANCES

It goes without saying that we don't need to confine our love sharing to one manufactured day of the year…

No, we should be spreading the joy in our hearts all year round and these strike partnerships certainly succeed in that category.

Going back to the start of the 2015-16 season, no two players have combined for more goals than Spurs duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min (33).

In fact, Kane features three times in the top-five – also ranking third with Christian Eriksen (19), and sharing 18 with Dele Alli.

Manchester City pairing Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne are second with 20, while Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez (18), who fired Leicester to shock title glory in 2015-16, also feature.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes Liverpool can still retain their Premier League crown, despite Jurgen Klopp surrendering the title.

City are seven points clear atop the table, and 13 ahead of Liverpool, with a game in hand following Saturday's 3-0 win over Tottenham.

Liverpool manager Klopp admitted the titleholders cannot hope to go back-to-back this season after suffering a 3-1 defeat at Leicester City.

But Guardiola told reporters: "From what I saw, the way they played today against Leicester, of course we have to lose games but of course they can do it.

"It is the same Liverpool that I met in the last years but in the boxes they are not as clinical as they were before. The quality they played, to do what they've done against Leicester, that they've not been able to get past halfway.

"Football is boxes and sometimes you have that period where you have to create more to score and every time they arrive they score. Football is a mood, feeling, not tactics sometimes. Sometimes it leaves us.

"The quality of the team is still there. I don't think they drop the quality of press or play, they always create more than the opponent. I don't like to suffer against them but as a spectator, I always enjoy watching Liverpool."

City remain unbeaten in their last 23 matches in all competitions (W20 D3), conceding just six goals during this period – the Manchester giants have extended their record winning run for a top-flight side across all competitions to 16 matches.

Guardiola's City have not trailed for a single minute in any of their last 15 Premier League games, since a 2-0 loss to Tottenham in November.

In the league's history, only Arsenal have embarked on a longer run of successive games without going behind (a streak of 19 matches between December 1998 – May 1999).

City, meanwhile, are the first side to keep 14 clean sheets from their opening 23 Premier League games in a season since neighbours Manchester United (17) and Chelsea (14) in 2008-09.

Liverpool lost a third successive top-flight game under Jurgen Klopp for the first time and Manchester City extended their record winning run in Saturday's Premier League action.

The Reds conceded three goals in a seven-minute spell as they went down 3-1 to Leicester City - managed by their former boss Brendan Rodgers - at the King Power Stadium.

Klopp's men are now 13 points adrift of City, who brushed aside Tottenham 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium later in the day for their 16th win in a row in all competitions.

Burnley also scored three unanswered goals at Crystal Palace to move further clear of the relegation zone, while Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa played out a 0-0 draw.

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool: No Vardy party for Klopp after latest setback

Liverpool's trip to Leicester marked Klopp's 300th game in charge of the club, though the German had little to celebrate come full-time after his side capitulated late on.

Klopp became the ninth manager to reach that landmark figure for the Reds and the day initially got off to a good start for his side.

Mohamed Salah gave the visitors the lead with his 10th away league goal of the season - the first player in the division to reach that mark - but then came a Leicester onslaught.

James Maddison made it eight goal involvements in his last nine league outings, before Jamie Vardy put Rodgers' side ahead.

It was the former England international's eighth Premier League goal against Liverpool - only against Arsenal (11 goals) has he found the net more times.

Harvey Barnes then rounded off the scoring with his eighth Premier League goal of the season, making him the highest-scoring English midfielder in the division this term.

The last time Liverpool lost three league games in a row was in November 2014 under Rodgers, who is the first ex-Reds manager to beat his former side since Roy Hodgson did so with West Brom in April 2012.

Manchester City 3-0 Tottenham: Goal-crazy Gundogan shines again for Guardiola's juggernaut

After setting a record for the number of successive wins for an English top-flight club in all competitions with their midweek FA Cup win at Swansea City, the Citizens picked up from where they left off in a straightforward victory against Tottenham.

City have now won 16 games in a row and are unbeaten in 23 in all competitions since losing 2-0 to Spurs in November's reverse fixture, conceding just six goals during that record-breaking run.

Incredibly, Pep Guardiola's men have not trailed for a single minute in any of their 15 league games since that loss at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - only Arsenal, 19 games between December 1998 and May 1999, have embarked on a longer run.

Ilkay Gundogan has been City's star performer across their perfect streak, with his brace here taking him to nine Premier League goals in 2021 - the most of any player across Europe's top five major leagues since the turn of the year.

Rodrigo had earlier given the home side the lead from the penalty spot after getting the nod over goalkeeper Ederson, who may not have got on the scoresheet but did at least register an assist - the third goal he has set up for City in all competitions.

On the back of their 5-4 extra-time loss to Everton in the FA Cup last 16, Spurs have now shipped eight goals in their last two games - the most a Jose Mourinho-managed side has conceded in a two-game period in all competitions.

Crystal Palace 0-3 Burnley: Zaha-less Eagles fail to fly

The result at Selhurst Park had a sense of inevitability about it before a ball was even kicked due to Wilfried Zaha being ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Palace have now lost 18 of their last 20 Premier League games in which star man Zaha has been absent, failing to score in 16 of those 18 defeats.

What was surprising, though, is the fact Burnley netted three times, matching their tally from their previous 10 away league matches combined.

Johann Berg Gudmundsson opened the scoring after five minutes - the first time he has netted in back-to-back Premier League appearances in what was his 108th game in the competition.

Jay Rodriguez's fifth league goal against Palace - only against Nottingham Forest (six) has he bagged more - had Burnley two up and Matt Lowton rounded off the scoring.

It was the right-back's first top-flight strike since April 2013, a run spanning some seven years and 313 days.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-0 Aston Villa: Martinez repels Seagulls in stalemate

Brighton were held to a goalless draw by Villa but it was not for the want of trying as they attempted 26 shots, which is the most they have ever managed in a Premier League game.

Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez had another inspired game with nine saves in total on his way to keeping a seventh away clean sheet in the Premier League this season - only Brad Friedel in 2009-10 (eight) has kept more in a single campaign for the club.

Brighton continued to push for a goal right until the end and were helped in their pursuit of an opener by substitute Adam Lallana, whose four chances created was the highest of any player on the pitch, despite only playing 28 minutes.

A point for Brighton does at least extend their unbeaten run to six top-flight matches, something they last achieved in November 1981 with a run of eight.

This is perhaps a fixture the neutrals should steer clear of in future, given that the last seven league games in which Brighton have hosted Villa have seen just eight goals scored, with neither team netting more than once in a match.

Pep Guardiola still harbours concerns over the quality of Manchester City's penalty takers after Rodri scored from the spot against Tottenham.

Rodri opened the scoring in the 23rd minute on Saturday, though his finish only just escaped the grasp of Hugo Lloris, who should have done better.

Ilkay Gundogan – who missed a penalty in the 4-1 win over Liverpool last week – won the spot-kick and then scored twice to take his tally of league goals in 2021 to nine and seal a 3-0 win.

Though City are now seven points clear at the top, and 13 ahead of reigning champions Liverpool, who went down 3-1 at Leicester City earlier on Saturday, Guardiola was not best pleased when asked about Rodri taking the spot-kick.

The former Atletico Madrid midfielder had never scored a penalty in his senior career, and Guardiola told BBC Sport: "The penalty is clear and then the first time we attack in the second half we score, that can happen.

"Is Rodri the taker now? No. I would say I admire the courage to take the penalty but it was not a good penalty.

"I am not laughing, I am concerned about this. We will have a real specialist to take them with quality. We have to practice."

Ederson provided a sensational assist for Gundogan's second goal – the third time the goalkeeper has set up a goal during his time at City – and Guardiola seems to be seriously considering the Brazil international as a potential penalty taker.

Guardiola added: "When I talk about Ederson and penalties, you see his assist, 60-70 yards, well then he will score from 12 yards!"

However, Guardiola's decision may come as news to Rodri, who also revealed he ignored the advice of Ederson, who appeared to pass on some information via Bernard Silva in the build-up to the spot-kick.

"I was a bit angry in the last weeks because we missed many penalties, much more than we expect, and in big games you have to score penalties because the margins are so small," Rodri told Sky Sports.

"I told my team-mates that for the next penalty I would shoot. I got the ball, nobody took the ball off me. Fortunately, I scored.

"Goalkeepers know each other, [Ederson] told Bernardo some tips about Lloris, where I should shoot the penalty – I didn't listen! Sometimes it's better to focus on what you're confident doing.

"We were laughing in the locker room, next penalty for sure I am going to take."

Despite City's penalty problems, Guardiola's team are ploughing on in their bid to recover the title they lost last season.

City remain unbeaten in their past 23 matches in all competitions (W20 D3), conceding just six goals during this period, and have won 11 Premier League games in a row.

They have not trailed for a single minute in any of their past 15 Premier League matches since a 2-0 loss to Spurs in the reverse fixture in November; in the competition's history, only Arsenal have embarked on a longer run of successive games without going behind (a run of 19 matches between December 1998 and May 1999).

One other issue for Guardiola, however, could be Gundogan's fitness.

The Germany international has scored more goals since the turn of the year than any other player in Europe's 'top five' leagues but succumbed to a groin problem midway through the second half.

Guardiola confirmed the 30-year-old will undergo further checks in the coming days.

Jose Mourinho was not surprised to see his "very tired team" lose at Manchester City, although he felt Tottenham were in the match before conceding a "modern penalty".

Spurs have won once in six matches in all competitions after suffering a 3-0 defeat at City in the Premier League just three days on from an extra-time FA Cup exit against Everton.

Tottenham have conceded eight goals this week, having shipped five at Goodison Park, the worst two-game total of Mourinho's coaching career.

Despite having just seven shots to City's 15 and only three on target - all of them in the second half - the Spurs head coach was pleased with his side's effort and frustrated with the circumstances surrounding the 23rd-minute opening goal.

Tottenham had had the best effort to that point, as Harry Kane's free-kick hit the crossbar, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fouled Ilkay Gundogan for a penalty that Rodri dispatched.

The result never appeared in doubt thereafter and Gundogan added a brace, swelling his 2021 total to nine - the most of any player in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

"It's a fresh team against a very tired team, but a team that started the game very, very well, with the game completely controlled," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"We hit the post - 1-0, that could give us that fuel that you need when you are especially tired like the boys were.

"And then one more of these 'modern penalties' - I call them 'modern penalties' - to put us in a difficult situation.

"I'm very, very happy with the players' attitude. I had guys on the pitch that played two hours a couple of days ago; they gave everything.

"Of course, we have guys in difficulty. Lucas [Moura] was the one that I took off at half-time, but I had other guys on the pitch in such a difficult situation.

"But brave attitude, great dignity. Of course, losing 3-0, a team that is not united, a team that is not together would give up and would probably be punished in a way that the team didn't deserve at all.

"But I saw guys like Harry, like Pierre, Ben [Davies], just to tell three names - I could give you five, six or seven - giving everything.

"I have nothing to say against my players, not even a couple of defensive mistakes that are always present. I cannot complain of the attitude of the boys."

Asked to expand on his suggestion of "modern penalties", Mourinho replied: "A 'modern penalty' is the penalty where even if you touch with the nail inside the box, it can be a penalty.

"Of course, it depends on the opponent, it depends on the team. But for some, you touch with the nail, it's a penalty.

"Then you go to the VAR and the VAR cannot deny that there was a touch, sometimes with a toe, sometimes with a nail, sometimes with a nose.

"You cannot deny that there was contact. That's what I call 'modern penalties'."

Only Leicester City (10) have won more spot-kicks than City's seven this season (level with Manchester United and Chelsea), although the league leaders have only converted four of them.

Rodri was tasked with this latest penalty after misses for Gundogan, Raheem Sterling and the injured Kevin De Bruyne this term.

De Bruyne (twice) and Gundogan have also found the net from 12 yards in the Premier League in 2020-21, although it has been a long-term issue for City.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, beaten on this occasion, has saved three City penalties since moving to England in 2012, his most against any one club in this time.

If a week is a long time in football, what of 12 weeks?

When Manchester City visited Tottenham on November 21 and lost 2-0, they fell to 11th in the Premier League, already eight points behind their opponents after eight matches.

Victory took Spurs to the summit, as they ended the day there for the first time in six years.

Jose Mourinho was the coach downplaying title talk. "We are just fighting to win every match," he said. "But we are going to lose matches, we are going to draw matches."

He was not wrong.

Their latest loss, at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, meant Tottenham have just one win in six in all competitions and now harbour only outside ambitions of the top four, let alone top spot.

There were certainly similarities – in the first half, at least – between November's 2-0 Spurs triumph and Saturday's 3-0 City success, similarities that may reasonably irritate both coaches.

Mourinho could rue Harry Kane's early free-kick, which bounced away off the post when it might have instead teed up another evening of frustration for City.

Pep Guardiola oversaw dominant displays on each occasion – 60.9 per cent of possession and 15 attempts this time – but can still point to three points inexplicably dropped in the reverse fixture, even if they appear highly unlikely to cost his side.

For City are now the side in the ascendancy, seven points clear of Leicester City with a game in hand to play and finally enjoying the rub of the green against Tottenham.

In six prior meetings between the sides going back to 2019, City had three times been exasperated by damaging VAR decisions and twice missed penalties, winning on two occasions but exiting the Champions League with one of those victories on an epic night at the Etihad.

Tottenham took their turn to appeal in vain after 21 minutes when the ball evaded Ilkay Gundogan in the area but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's clumsy challenge did not, allowing Rodri to step up for a spot-kick that crept beyond Hugo Lloris.

The goalkeeper has saved three City penalties in a Spurs shirt and should have done better with this one, just as he should Gundogan's tame second-half toe-poke, bringing a miserable end to a week the World Cup winner – also at fault at Everton in the FA Cup – would surely rather forget.

At the other end of the scale from the lacklustre Lloris, Rodri and Joao Cancelo, rampant again, have transformed their City careers since struggling away at Tottenham, while two-goal Gundogan is Europe's form player; no-one in the 'top five' leagues can match his nine strikes in 2021.

Indeed, an apparent groin injury shortly after Gundogan netted his second should concern City, but this latest great Guardiola team do not appear to miss their stars.

Ruben Dias, whose only defeat in English football came in the game at Spurs, was kept on the bench by a fever. Record goalscorer Sergio Aguero returned to the matchday squad for the first time in over a month. Kevin De Bruyne, the best of the lot, remains out.

On this evidence, the next man up will see City safe in their pursuit of another title and then perhaps an unprecedented quadruple.

This is a season defined by injuries and absences, where Liverpool are lost without Virgil van Dijk and "the Harry Kane team" returned no goals and no points from the two matches which their talisman sat out.

Without PFA Players' Player of the Year De Bruyne in the XI this term, City have taken 19 points from a possible 21, scoring 2.4 goals per game (up from 1.8) and conceding 0.3 (down from 0.8). They have collectively improved to fill the void, extending their record-breaking winning run to 16 matches.

Under pressure in November, Guardiola now has a breadth of options, a brilliant side and is even beating Tottenham. It is his league to lose.

Ilkay Gundogan was integral once more as Manchester City emphatically beat Tottenham 3-0 to seal an 11th straight Premier League victory and move seven points clear at the top.

Pep Guardiola's team have not lost in any competition since a 2-0 defeat in the reverse meeting with Spurs in November, and the juggernaut never looked likely to stop on Saturday.

City scored with their first three attempts on target – Rodri converting a penalty that Gundogan won before the former Borussia Dortmund man stabbed in his 12th goal of 2020-21.

And three days on from their remarkable 5-4 FA Cup defeat to Everton, any lingering comeback hopes Spurs harboured were dashed when Gundogan fooled Davinson Sanchez to slot in his second, though a groin injury for City's talisman did present one cause for concern for Guardiola.

Against the run of play, City would have been behind had Harry Kane's superb free-kick not clattered Ederson's left-hand upright.

But having controlled 74.2 per cent possession in the opening 15 minutes, City were gifted the opportunity to lead when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg clattered into Gundogan to concede a second penalty in as many games.

With Gundogan making a mess of City's spot-kick at Anfield last week, Rodri took responsibility, though he was fortunate Hugo Lloris failed to keep out a rather unconvincing finish.

Lloris atoned before half-time, denying Gundogan a 10th league goal of the season after Raheem Sterling had got the better of Ben Davies to tee up the Germany international.

Yet the Premier League's top scorer in 2021 did get his eighth goal since the turn of the year five minutes after half-time, prodding home at Lloris' near post after more terrific play from Sterling, though Spurs' goalkeeper should have done better.

While one goalkeeper floundered, the other then turned provider – Ederson's searching pass controlled exquisitely by Gundogan and, with Sanchez slipping and flailing wildly, he finished coolly to round off another supreme City performance.

What does it mean? City storming towards the title

Last week's stunning win at Anfield was what truly signified a shift in power from Liverpool back to the blue half of Manchester, and there seems to be little stopping City now, with Guardiola's team having won 16 games on the bounce in all competitions, since drawing with West Brom on December 15.

Even without the benched Ruben Dias, who has been suffering with illness this week, the hosts were in complete control throughout, and the problems keep mounting for Jose Mourinho, whose side have lost four of their last five league games and sit in eighth, 17 points behind City.

Gundogan in a league of his won

Gundogan has scored 11 Premier League goals this season – the only German players to score more in a single season in the competition are Jurgen Klinsmann (20) and Uwe Rosler (15), both in the 1994-95 campaign.

Indeed, in 2021, he has scored more goals than any other player in Europe's big five leagues, netting nine goals in nine Premier League games. However, he went off holding his groin shortly after making it 3-0, and Guardiola may now be without a player who has been crucial in Kevin De Bruyne's absence.

Lloris making a meal of it

Spurs captain Lloris was at fault for Everton's opener on Wednesday and could have done better for both of City's opening goals this time out, having got a hand to Rodri's penalty before allowing Gundogan's near-post finish to creep under him.

This is the first time a Mourinho-led side has conceded eight goals in a two-game period, and his goalkeeper – who did at least make a smart stop from Sterling late on – is far from blameless.

What's next?

City make the trip to Goodison Park on Wednesday, with Everton their opponents in a match rescheduled from December. Spurs, meanwhile, face Wolfsberger in the Europa League a day later.

Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho admits he is living in "a different reality" to Pep Guardiola - because Manchester City are a club that want to win everything going.

A serial trophy winner with the likes of Porto, Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United, Mourinho has yet to deliver silverware for Spurs.

They could end the wait in the EFL Cup final in April, for which there will be a dress rehearsal of sorts on Saturday when Tottenham face City at the Etihad Stadium.

But it is City, who have faced accusations from rival fans of being spendthrifty, that will go into both those games as favourites.

When asked about the hundreds of millions of pounds the likes of Guardiola at City and Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool have lavished just on defensive players, to get where they are today, Mourinho's "lucky them" verdict was the message of a boss who has been trusted with similar wealth before.

"They are in clubs that want to win everything and to win everything you need to have top players in every position," Mourinho said.

"A team is a puzzle. If Pep thought in a certain moment he needed to spend that money on defenders, then he needed to, and Jurgen felt the same with [Virgil] Van Dijk, and when Van Dijk was not enough because he was feeling another fragility they got Alisson.

"I think that's a thing that big clubs with incredible economical possibilities, they do it. Lucky them, good for them."

Prudence is more Tottenham's way, and although they have signed the likes of Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon and Sergio Reguilon in the last year, it has been more likely to be City and Liverpool, along with United, targeting the very best available talent.

"When I came to the club, the club was very open and very honest with me," Mourinho said.

"I knew I was going to come to a different reality. A big club, no doubt about that for one second, but a club with a different profile in terms of being, or not being, candidates to win competition A or B, a club being able to resolve problems with a cheque.

"The club made the possible effort in the summer to improve the team, and I'm not complaining with anything. I just do my work the best I can."

Guardiola and Klopp have built teams that have combined winning form with attacking verve, and Mourinho would love to bring both to Tottenham, but that seems a faraway dream for a team who have lost four of their last five games to slide down the Premier League table and tumble out of the FA Cup.

Since Mourinho joined Tottenham in November 2019, they have won both of their Premier League matches against City, albeit having home advantage on each occasion.

Against a City side who have won their last 15 games, including 10 consecutively in the Premier League, they risk being rolled over to become the latest victims of Guardiola's exceptional band of players.

Yet should Tottenham spring a shock and take the points, it will mean they have won away against both Manchester clubs in a top-flight season for the first time since 1959-60, having scored a startling 6-1 victory at United in October.

The last side to win at both United and City in a single Premier League season were Liverpool in 2008-09, while the last London side to achieve it were Arsenal in the Gunners' 1990-91 title-winning campaign.

Mourinho, meanwhile, defended Tottenham's move to sell a range of merchandise marking the upcoming appearance in the EFL Cup final.

Even some Tottenham supporters have mocked the move, suggesting reaching a final is not sufficient an achievement to warrant selling such goods.

But Mourinho said: "We have empty stadiums, an incredible stadium that is always empty.

"How many millions is Tottenham losing every match we play at home? How many millions is Tottenham losing per month? We have to make money."

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City were "not the team I can recognise" during their early season struggles.

A defeat to Tottenham in November left them languishing 11th in the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's men going top.

Spurs visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday to face a City team who have not lost in 22 outings across all competitions since that match and sit five points clear at the Premier League summit.

Discussing a remarkable turnaround, Guardiola did not think the reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium proved to be the pivot point.

Perhaps more damningly, he felt the nadir came the following month, when City followed up a 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford by being held 1-1 at home by West Brom - relegation threatened opponents who still sacked boss Slaven Bilic in the aftermath of taking that point.

"To be specific, it was after the game against West Bromwich," Guardiola said. "We could've won with two incredible chances at the end but after that game, I felt this is not the team I can recognise myself. I didn't like what I watched, I didn't like what I saw.

"We talked and we said, okay, we have to come back to our first principle. We had to reconstruct the team from that point. What we are as a team, how we had success in the past.

"We had to come back to our game, move the ball quicker, do more passes, stay in position, run less with the ball, do it together. We don't have a specific player to win games, we have to do it together.

"But above all that was the commitment of the players. They talked, they thought, okay, we have to do more and they did it."

The results have been startling, with City winning every one of their 15 subsequent matches - an all-time record for a top-flight English club.

In the 15 games preceding their ongoing streak, City won nine and drew five alongside the Spurs loss.

The arrival of Ruben Dias had already gone a long way to shoring up a defence humiliated during a 5-2 September loss to Leicester City, with City breached six times during those 15 matches. They have let in five during the winning run.

Their expected goals (xG) is actually up from 7.1 to eight, with 10 clean sheets in each batch of games.

It is up front where Guardiola's men have rediscovered their mojo despite the on-going absence of club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.

City's 40 goals dwarf 25 from the prior 15 outings. Misses such as the ones from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling that Guardiola referenced from the West Brom draw are also less of a factor.

During that segment earlier in the season, City were tracking below an xG of 27.7. With the likes of Premier League Player of the Month Gundogan (eight in 15 games), Sterling, Phil Foden (both six) and Gabriel Jesus (five) back in the goals, they are operating clearly above an xG of 32.9.

Tottenham's season is heading sharply in the other direction.

They were eight points better off than City after beating them, but their subsequent 13 Premier League matches read won four, drawn four, lost five.

Counting top division matches only from this period, City have outscored Spurs 33 to 15, having played once more, claiming 38 points to Tottenham's 16.

Guardiola's backline has been breached a mere three times since that last league loss and faced 92 shots at an xG against of 6.6. Mourinho's men have faced 183 attempts on goal and an xG against of 15.91 is a touch higher than their 13 conceded.

Once again, the tempestuous and thrilling back and forth that marked Guardiola and Mourinho's spells in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be repeated in England, as was the case when the Portuguese took up residence across the city at Manchester United.

For this reason, perhaps, Guardiola was comfortable speaking cordially about his old rival.

"I have a good relationship with him, we can agree or disagree but it's not a big problem," he said.

"His business is Tottenham, or before United, mine is City. We have to handle our team and backroom staff and we don't have time to know what about the other club and could not care less.

"The only concern is what we have to do tomorrow."

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