Sergio Aguero was the scourge of Tottenham once again as Manchester City won 1-0 at White Hart Lane on the day they were dethroned as Premier League champions by Chelsea.
City went into Sunday’s game knowing their slim hopes of retaining the title were over after Jose Mourinho’s side beat Crystal Palace earlier in the day, but they advanced their hopes of claiming second spot.
Aguero scored all four goals in City’s 4-1 home win over Tottenham in October and his first-half strike ensured he has now found the back of the net eight times in his last four games against the London club.
The Premier League’s leading scorer this season now has 22 goals in the top flight and 28 in all competitions, but will not be celebrating another title as Chelsea are 13 points clear with three games remaining.
Tottenham had their chances, but were thwarted by an inspired Joe Hart as they failed to build on a bright start and their hopes of securing a UEFA Champions League spot are now practically over, while City are three points clear of Arsenal – who play Hull City on Monday.
Danny Rose recovered from a hamstring injury to replace Ben Davies, who dislocated his shoulder in Tottenham’s draw at Southampton last weekend.
Hart captained City in the absence of injured duo Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure, while James Milner and Fernandinho returned to the starting line-up.
Tottenham had been on the end of heavy losses in their last three games against City, but looked capable of dishing out a thrashing of their own as they made a positive start.
An unmarked Eric Dier spurned a great chance within two minutes when he headed a corner from the left wide, then Harry Kane sprung the offside trap but fired just wide of the far post.
Hugo Llloris had a huge stroke of luck when he slipped after coming out of his penalty area attempting to deal with a long ball, but Aguero was unable to take advantage as he also went down with the ball running away from him and, despite claims he had been upended by Federico Fazio, there was no contact from the defender.
Aguero was not to be denied an opening goal 29 minutes in, though, as Tottenham were made to pay for some slack defending.
David Silva was the architect, showing great vision to pick out the Argentina striker inside the penalty area with an incisive pass and City’s leading scorer fired high into the net at the near post.
Fernandinho’s goal-bound shot was blocked by Rose before firing wide when Silva set him up, but City were indebted to a great Hart save to deny Ryan Mason from close range two minutes before the break.
Hart again came to City’s rescue on the hour mark when he stood up to thwart Kane, who evaded Martin Demichelis to race clear but was unable to apply the finish.
Aguero really ought to have doubled the visitors’ lead almost immediately, rounding Lloris with his first touch but firing into the side-netting with his second when off balance with the goal gaping.
Samir Nasri lasted only three minutes after replacing Frank Lampard before limping off with an injury, while Hart produced two fine saves late on to keep out Erik Lamela as City sealed a third win a row.