Haaland hails 'incredible' Ortega after Tottenham heroics put Man City on brink of title

Goalkeeper makes two big saves to help the Premier League champions win 2-0 and take control of the title race

Powered by automated translation

Erling Haaland and Rodri both hailed Stefan Ortega's "incredible" performance after the second-choice goalkeeper led Manchester City to a vital Premier League win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night.

Requiring victory to keep the title in their hands heading into Sunday's final day of the season, City got the job done thanks to a second-half double from striker Haaland.

The Norwegian tapped home a pinpoint Kevin de Bruyne cross six minutes after the break to score City's first league goal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and he netted a late penalty to seal the three points for the visitors.

The brace moves Haaland to 27 league goals this season and all-but clinches his second successive Golden Boot; he is six goals clear of Chelsea's Cole Palmer.

But the headlines were stolen by substitute goalkeeper Ortega, who replaced Ederson in the 69th minute and produced two massive saves to help City to victory.

The German was called into action immediately, denying substitute Dejan Kulusevski from close range. Time then stood still when Spurs captain Son Heung-min burst through with five minutes of normal time remaining but Ortega saved with his legs when the South Korean seemed certain to score.

City manager Pep Guardiola fell to the ground, clutching his head in disbelief.

Instead, City were awarded a penalty when Pedro Porro brought down substitute Jeremy Doku, and Haaland smashed home in the 91st minute to spark wild celebrations from the players in front of the City faithful.

“Ederson was fantastic today and Ortega was man of the match. What can I say? He’s incredible and such a good guy as well so I’m happy for him,” Haaland said.

“[The team showed] fantastic mentality. We have to focus game by game and now relax and focus on the next one.

“I think we were a bit nervous and that’s normal, there were a lot of emotions for everyone. Everyone knows the situation. It’s about not thinking too much and focusing on things to do and try to win."

City midfielder Rodri agreed with Haaland, admitting that Ortega had won them the match.

“Stefan was just simply incredible,” he said. “One-nil up if they scored we were out. [He made] outstanding three saves, I have no words.

“The mentality of these guys and the substitutions. We have to talk about the substitutions today. Stefan saved us, Jeremy [Doku] was unbelievable and all the players who came in were exceptional. This talks about the team.”

City now hold a two-point lead over Arsenal heading into Sunday's final game. The defending champions face West Ham at the Etihad while the Gunners host Everton at the Emirates.

Despite their position of strength, Guardiola insisted that none of his players will be losing focus at this critical time.

“I like that they were so happy in the locker room but they know it’s not done,” he said. “I didn’t see an extra celebration. They know perfectly it will be tough.

“People have to come to Etihad at 3 on Sunday knowing it will be difficult. They have to come with their families and bring the energy, win every inch and metre and deserve to win that game.

“All we have to do is win that game. To have the chance to live that possibility we are so fortunate.”

As City focus on more silverware and a second successive domestic double – they face Manchester United in the FA Cup final on May 25 – Tottenham are left to pick up the pieces of a season that had started so brightly.

Spurs have now lost five of their past six matches, ending their hopes of a return to the Champions League.

Tottenham were also in the unenviable position on Tuesday night of potentially helping bitter rivals Arsenal win the title, leading some fans to support City. Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou said before the match he couldn't comprehend wanting your own team to lose, and he later admitted that the flat atmosphere inside the stadium affected his team.

"Of course it does. It is what it is. I can't dictate what people do," he said. "They're allowed to express themselves any way they want. But yeah, when we've got late winners in games it's because the crowd's helped us.

"The foundations are really fragile," Postecoglou added. "The last 48 hours have shown me that. It's inside the club, outside the club. Outside, inside, everywhere. It's been an interesting exercise. It's just my observations."

Updated: May 15, 2024, 6:22 AM