Spurs claim bragging rights over City

Tottenham maintained the pressure on the top four as two goals from Niko Kranjcar and Jermain Defoe's 13th league goal of the season completed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Manchester City.

But City manager Mark Hughes was left facing growing problems after his side failed to improve on a run that has now brought just one win in ten league games. While Spurs sit fifth, just two points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa, City have slumped to eighth, a further four points adrift of the UEFA Champions League places.

For Spurs manager Harry Redknapp this win marked a return to form after the uninspired performance in the weekend home defeat to struggling Wolves had raised questions about their ability to sustain their challenge at the head of the table. Hughes, though, is still looking for a winning formula after a summer of heavy investment and this result places greater pressure on the weekend meeting with Sunderland.

The City manager was forced into changes following the weekend dismissal of Craig Bellamy that paved the way for Robinho to return. But the City manager's plan suffered another unexpected blow in the build-up to this clash when England centre-back Joleon Lescott was ruled out for up to five weeks with a knee problem.

Nedum Onuoha came in but Lescott's absence meant City lost height in the backline. And with the towering Peter Crouch restored to the Tottenham attack following Robbie Keane's ineffective showing against Wolves, the visitors were clearly more vulnerable to Spurs' greater aerial threat.

There was little evidence of any threat from either side during a frantic opening half hour that was interspersed by a series of snatched, long-range efforts directed at either goal but precious few clear chances. Carlos Tevez fired in two hopeful efforts that flew tamely wide while Robinho forced Heurelho Gomes into his only real save of the first half when a dipping shot that the Tottenham keeper easily tipped over.

At the opposite end Kranjcar should have done much better when Aaron Lennon pulled the ball back from the byline and Defoe was later slow to react when he found himself on the end of a similar move. The balance of play was tipped in Tottenham's favour though, largely because of Lennon's ability to get past City left-back Sylvinho.

Right-sided dominance
The England winger had been successfully bottled up by Wolves when it was noticeable that Spurs lacked an alternative source of quality service. But this time Lennon benefited from the extra space he was given by his opponents and it quickly became clear that Spurs best opportunities were likely to come from the right.

And they owed their 37th minute opening goal to another darting run by Lennon, who sent in a deep cross towards Crouch at the far post. The striker out-jumped his marker and powered in a downward header that was blocked initially by City midfielder Stephen Ireland on the line only for Kranjcar to follow up and stab the ball home from close range.

The goal injected life into the home side and Crouch should have made it two a minute later when Defoe played him in only for the striker hesitate and City keeper Shay Given smothered the danger. City's front three of Robinho, Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor had laboured during the opening half with only Tevez showing any signs of urgency.

And that pattern continued after the interval when Tottenham continued to press before claiming a second nine minutes into the second period. Crouch was again involved, but this time Gomes was the unexpected provider with the Spurs keeper sending a long punt that the striker flicked on into Defoe's path and the in-form forward finished with ease.

Robinho was quickly withdrawn in favour of Roque Santa Cruz and was clearly unhappy at the decision, heading straight down the tunnel. City finally started applying some pressure in the Brazilian's absence but were unable to gain a foothold in the match before Kranjcar completed a comfortable win for Spurs with a close range effort in added time.