After Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice did their worst, it was almost inevitable that Manchester City would be hit by a Harry Kane.
The Blues’ title hopes have hardly been blown off course by the result, after Kane’s late winner took the points, when it seemed Riyad Mahrez’s icy nerve from the penalty spot had rescued a point.
Liverpool had come from behind to pick up three more points against Norwich earlier in the day, and were praying Spurs could shake off their recent malaise. They did just that. with a determined defensive display and plenty of counter-attacking spite.
On a day when City were listless and blunt, and Spurs had the cutting edge that Pep Guardiola wanted so badly last summer, they face the prospect of having their lead at the top trimmed to three points if Jurgen Klopp’s team beat Leeds on Wednesday.
After taking 43 points from the previous 45 on offer, it was perhaps inevitable that City’s standards would dip at some point,
Kane brilliantly created the first Spurs goal, finished the second, was denied another goal by a tight VAR decision against provider Dejan Kulusevski and then popped up with the late, late winner.
It was a display which screamed, in the old Bullseye quiz show catchphrase “Here’s what you could have won!”
Kane showed everything that City were missing — a penalty area bully, a striker who finished with head and foot, but who also drops off his defenders to bring others into play.
Spurs shocked the Etihad with a goal in five minutes and it was all about Kane.
He dropped deep to collect the ball but caught the Blues napping with an instant ball round the corner to send Heung Min Son away.
It was as if the Blue have paid no attention to Guardiola’s briefings for every game against this opposition in the last five years, with Ruben Dias desperately trying to step forward and play Son offside.
It failed miserably and Son, so often the scourge of City, with six goals in his previous eight games against City, was through one on one with Ederson. The net usually bulges when he gets near the Blues’ net but he unselfishly squared for Dejan Kulusevski to stroke into the empty net.
It was a well-worn route for Spurs against City, with Aymeric Laporte dashing out in a belated attempt to close down Kane and Dias stepping up — Son is too smart for such dysfunctional defending as he has proven many times in recent years.
City tried hard to strike back but with Rodri’s passing surprisingly squiffy and Joao Cancelo not functioning with his usual slick incisiveness, they were pushing forward with plenty of will but not enough subtlety.
They almost leveled when Sterling fed Gundogan in the box and he rode one tackle before curling a shot against the outside of the post.
Then Cancelo crashed a half-volley wide after a smart chest-down from Gundogan at a corner, and with the City fans in full voice, it began to feel more like it.
Spurs had something to bite on, but the more City pressed, the more ragged they became, and when the equalizer came it was no surprise that it came from a mistake, albeit one forced by Kevin De Bruyne.
Sterling’s angled pass into the box was heading straight into the arms of Lloris but De Bruyne, perhaps knowing he had little chance of getting a touch to divert it past the keeper, still strained to reach it.
That attempt had the desired effect, as his presence distracted the keeper, who only succeeded in bundling the ball out to the feet of Gundogan, who slotted it home with his left foot.
The scene appeared to be set for City to press home their advantage, with Spurs looking more fractured by the minute.
But a huddled team talk from Guardiola as the Blues gathered in the tunnel before the start of the second half appeared to have the reverse effect.
City were uncertain and half-hearted at times, struggling to find a way through the massed Tottenham defence, and always liable to be stung on the counter.
Ad so it proved, although, as with the first goal, much of the problem was down to some ordinary defending.
The presence of Kane and Son seems to induce panic, and when Dias succumbed and headed into no-man’s land for Ryan Sessegnon to pick up, Son was onto the possibilities.
He curved a delicious ball into the box and Kane darted in to finish expertly into the top corner.
Ederson denied Kane a second goal with a sharp save moments later and at the other end Lloris redeemed himself for his first half gaffe by leaping acrobatically to turn Gundogan’s curling shot round the post.
City huffed and puffed after that, replacing Sterling’s directness with the more subtle skills of Riyad Mahrez but even the Algerian wizard could make no dent in a Spurs defense that was defending doggedly.
The Blues kept hammering away and when Bernardo Silva chipped in another hopeful cross, Cristian Romero in his haste to block, slid under it and raised his arm to block.
Ref Anthony Taylor somehow did not see it, but the VAR did and City had a spot kick which was calmly tucked away by Mahrez.
With City fans checking I there was time for a winner, it was Spurs who snatched it.
They built down the right and when Kulusevski delivered a cross to the far post, Kane inevitably rose to head home.