Nedum Onuoha's first goal for Manchester City clinched a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday to put his side's push for a UEFA Cup place back on track. City had been sliding down the table after a fine start to the campaign, but they halted a dismal run of one win in eight matches thanks to a stirring second-half revival at Eastlands.
Trailing to Robbie Keane's sublime first-half strike, Sven-Goran Eriksson's men equalised through Stephen Ireland before Onuoha headed the winner. The young defender had gone 66 games without getting on the scoresheet, but he broke his duck at just the right time to keep City in with a shout of earning a European spot.
"It's taken me four years to score and this was a good game to do it because some people have been getting on our backs," said Onuoha. "I'd like to think this will give us more confidence. It's the run-in now and hopefuly we can pick up as many points as possible to be there or thereabouts."
Tottenham had been unlucky to go out of the UEFA Cup at PSV Eindhoven in midweek, but their season is in danger of ending on a disappointing note after a result that ended any chance of a late surge towards the top six. The League Cup winners nearly took a fourth-minute lead when Keane exchanged passes with Aaron Lennon and turned Onuoha, before curling a shot just wide of the far post.
Jermaine Jenas tested City keeper Joe Hart for the first time
with a long-range free-kick. The England midfielder then failed to
hit the target when he steered Keane's pass over the bar. Jenas
was causing City all manner of problems and his astute pass gave
Steed Malbranque a shooting opportunity, only for the French winger
to blaze over.
But the breakthrough that Tottenham's slick play deserved finally arrived in the 32nd minute. Vedran Corluka misjudged a long pass, allowing Pascal Chimbonda to surge into the space vacated by the Croatian full-back. Chimbonda's pass picked out Keane and the Irish striker produced a perfect first-time shot across Hart and into the far corner for his 21st goal of the season.
City midfielder Elano has struggled in recent weeks and his side have suffered as a result. The Brazilian almost provided an equaliser when he curled in a cross which Benjani Mwaruwari should have converted but he headed straight at Michael Dawson, who cleared off the goalline.
That got City going and Elano forced Paul Robinson into a diving save as the hosts stepped up the tempo before half-time.
Eriksson's side stayed on top after the break and equalised in the 59th minute. Benjani crossed from the left to Castillo. The Mexican scuffed his shot into the air, but Elano headed goalwards and Ireland flicked the ball past Robinson from close range.
Ramos opted to replace Keane midway through the second half, drawing a disgusted reaction from the Republic of Ireland international, who ripped off his captain's armband before throwing a tracksuit top to the floor in frustration when he got back to the bench. There was much worse to come for Ramos' side in the 72nd minute.
Elano curled over a corner and Onuoha got away from Chimbonda to beat Robinson with a powerful header that gave the Tottenham keeper no chance.
Spurs striker Darren Bent had the ball in the net with six minutes to go but his strike was ruled out for offside as City held on.