Manchester City ploughed their way through a sticky Wembley pitch and back to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Tottenham.
The playing surface at the national stadium was in a poor condition due to Sunday’s NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles but that did not bother City as Riyad Mahrez’s sixth-minute goal proved enough.
Pep Guardiola’s men were not at their vintage best but still had chances to have made it a more comfortable evening, with Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero all denied.
Still, it was an eighth win from 10 Premier League games this season and they leapfrog Liverpool at the summit on goal difference.
It was Tottenham’s first return to Wembley since the announcement that they would be staying there until at least January and they suffered a first loss in five games.
Boss Mauricio Pochettino will point to a glaring miss by Erik Lamela in the final 10 minutes but in truth they never really had the cutting edge to hurt City, who posted a sixth successive clean sheet.
The visitors needed only six minutes to prove playing on the surface was not going to be a problem as they raced into the lead with a goal that seemed far too easy.
Kieran Trippier failed to deal with a long ball, which Sterling raced on to before skinning his England team-mate and laying it on a plate for Mahrez to tuck home from close range.
It was his fourth league goal of the season and was a fitting tribute to his former chairman at Leicester Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who tragically died in a helicopter crash on Saturday night.
Tottenham, to their credit, mounted a promising response, with Harry Kane rifling a 25-yard effort just over while Toby Alderweireld headed straight at Ederson from a corner.
City’s left-hand side was proving to be a weak point and Spurs twice got in on goal, but wasted good positions.
First Moussa Sissoko broke the offside trap and surged in on goal, but opted to pass and chose the wrong ball and then Lamela put Kane through only for the England captain to run into Ederson after an uncharacteristically heavy first touch.
City had further chances to extend their lead, with Mahrez forcing Hugo Lloris into a smart save at his near post while the France goalkeeper also had to keep out a David Silva effort.
Neither of those chances were as good as the one presented to City 10 minutes into the second half.
Bernardo Silva advanced down the right and appeared to present an open goal to David Silva, but the midfielder chose to take a touch and pass to Sterling, who then saw his shot blocked on the line by Ben Davies.
Sergio Aguero, searching for his 150th league goal for City, then had two quickfire chances to reach the landmark as he was fed by David Silva but Lloris got down low and then the goalkeeper had to fist away an effort from distance.
Tottenham’s golden chance for an equaliser came in the final 10 minutes as City were robbed of possession and Dele Alli could not have made it easier for Lamela but the Argentinian painfully blazed over and with it, Spurs’ chance was gone.