Hughes defiant despite City slump

Manchester City manager Mark Hughes played down suggestions that the club's Abu Dhabi owners are losing patience with his team's poor run after Darren Bent scored twice to seal a 2-1 win for Tottenham at Eastlands.

In a game that saw three players red carded by referee Mike Dean - City's Gelson Fernandes and Richard Dunne and Spurs defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto - Robinho's first-half opener proved fruitless as the home side crashed to their third successive league defeat and their fifth in seven games.

But with Hughes due to meet owner Sheikh Mansour in Abu Dhabi this week, the manager insisted that he still has the support of his bosses. He said: "The chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, was over at my house last night and we had a great meeting. I may well go out to Abu Dhabi this week, but if it's not a time when diaries are open, we can do it another time. There is no rush.

"We are talking about busy men here and Sheikh Mansour has a very full diary, but the plan is hopefully to get out there. It's not confirmed or set in stone as yet, but I've had some great meetings over the weekend. My contact is the chairman and I had a very positive meeting, really enjoyed his company and I look forward to seeing him again."

Hughes admitted his frustrations at referee Mike Dean for his decision to dismiss Fernandes and Dunne in a game played in torrential rain. "Gelson's first booking was valid, but I don't think the referee took account of the decisions with the sending off. David Bentley took the ball beyond Gelson and then went down," said Hughes.

"With Richard Dunne, there was just a coming together of legs and a tangle of bodies, but Mr. Dean showed quite clearly that he wasn't prepared to take the conditions into account. When they are as they were in this game, the referee ought to give the players the benefit of the doubt. It's difficult enough to win Premier League games with a full compliment of players, never mind when you are reduced to ten men. But I can take enough positives from the game because my players continued to show the necessary qualities when it would have been quite easy to let circumstances dictate the outcome."

Off the bottom
Tottenham's victory was their third in four league games since Harry Redknapp's arrival as manager two weeks ago, and the points lift the club out of the bottom three. "I'm happy to get off the bottom," said Redknapp. "When I came in, we only had two points and it could have been a scary situation for us had we not picked up these three wins in the last four games."

"It's all about confidence, though. I have just come in and talked to everybody to get to know them. But they are good players and they are just showing the confidence they now have. Darren Bent's doing amazingly well for us. That's 11 goals for him now and the other strikers are doing OK as well. (Roman) Pavlyuchenko has scored a couple and Fraizer Campbell has impressed me and he will get his chance."

Robinho, who scored a hat-trick in his last league outing at Eastlands, maintained his goal streak in the 16th minute when he pounced from ten yards after Heurelho Gomes had saved Darius Vassell's shot. City appeared to be in control, but their game-plan fell apart when holding midfielder Gelson was sent off on 26 minutes following two bookings for fouls on Luka Modric and David Bentley.

Bent hauled Spurs level three minutes later when he made the most of a terrible mistake by City captain Dunne. Dunne missed the ball completely when he attempted to clear Modric's long pass, and Bent latched onto the ball before nervelessly slotting under the exposed Joe Hart.

It was no surprise when Bent claimed his second to put Spurs in control on 64 minutes before Dunne and then Assou-Ekotto were sent off in the closing minutes.