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Sterling, De Bruyne superb in City's VAR-tainted draw with Spurs

Steve Nicol explains why Raheem Sterling has been so efficient so far this season for Man City and what's to come from the England international.
Steve Nicol picks the winners and losers of the second Saturday of the Premier League season, including Teemu Pukki's hat trick and Liverpool's sloppy defense.

MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City were denied another late goal against Tottenham by the VAR as Pep Guardiola's side were held to a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium. Gabriel Jesus thought he had scored a stoppage time winner but saw the goal chalked off after the video assistant spotted Aymeric Laporte's handball in the build-up.

It was a similar story in the Champions League tie between the two teams last season when Raheem Sterling's late clincher was also ruled out by the television ref. It was Sterling who put City ahead this time with a back post header that beat Hugo Lloris. Erik Lamela equalised before Sergio Aguero's clever finish put the hosts 2-1 up at half-time.

Substitute Lucas Moura scored a second Tottenham equaliser from Lamela's corner just after half time before the late drama denied City a winner and ended their run of 15 consecutive Premier League wins.

Positives

Kevin De Bruyne only made 11 Premier League starts last season and City were still able to hold off a Liverpool team who racked up more than 90 points. But if anyone needed proof that Guardiola's team are better with the Belgian in it, he delivered it here. You won't see a better cross than the one he planted on Sterling's head for the first goal. His assist for Aguero was also pinpoint -- whipping the ball into the near post from the right. He should have had a hat-trick of assists before half-time and the only thing missing after his drilled pass into the penalty area just before half time was Ilkay Gundogan's finish.

Negatives

Guardiola will be disappointed with Tottenham's goals, both of which came out of nothing. Lamela found himself in acres of space on the edge of the area to make it 1-1 and the second equaliser after half time came from a corner that should have been cleared. City defended well for the majority of the game but two lapses cost two goals and two points.

- Guardiola downplays mid-match spat with Aguero
- ESPN Premier League fantasy: Sign up now!
- VAR in the Premier League: Big calls explained

Manager rating out of 10

Pep Guardiola, 6 -- There aren't many managers who would make four changes after a 5-0 away win but Guardiola isn't most managers. Back came Gundogan, Aguero, Bernando Silva and Nicolas Otamendi while John Stones, a starter against West Ham, was left in the stands. It looked odd to replace Aguero with the score at 2-2 but the decision to throw on Jesus almost paid off when the Brazilian found the net in injury time only for the goal to be ruled out.

Raheem Sterling was solid again against Spurs but ultimately a VAR decision saw City drop points in the early season marquee clash.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ederson, 6 -- Hit one sublime pass the length of the pitch to Oleksandr Zinchenko. Might feel he could have done better with Lamela's goal.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 -- One burst past Davinson Sanchez created an early chance for Sterling. Out-jumped by Moura for Tottenham's second goal.

DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 7 -- Didn't do much wrong at left-back. Covered a lot of ground and was left struggling with cramp by the end of the 90 minutes.

DF Aymeric Laporte, 6 -- Good on the ball but should have got out quicker to Lamela when the Argentinian equalised for Spurs from the edge of the box.

DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Left on the bench last week and didn't waste his chance against Tottenham. Helped keep Harry Kane quiet and the Spurs striker barely had a kick.

MF Rodri, 7 -- Careful and composed in front of the back four. Saw a stinging effort saved by Lloris before being sacrificed for David Silva as City chased a winner.

MF Ilkay Gundogan, 6 -- Brought back in at the expense of David Silva. Should have made it 3-1 before half-time when De Bruyne cut the ball back across the box.

MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 -- Two beautiful crosses from the right created two goals in the first half. City's best player and looked dangerous anywhere near Tottenham's penalty area.

FW Bernando Silva, 7 -- Back in the team after his surprise omission against West Ham. Deserves a lot of credit for creating spaces on the right for De Bruyne to set up both of City's first half goals.

FW Raheem Sterling, 7 -- After scoring a hat-trick against West Ham, his stooping header at the back post put City a goal up.

FW Sergio Aguero, 7 -- The Argentinian had not scored in his previous seven league games against Tottenham but he ended the run with a clever near post finish from De Bruyne's cross.

Substitutes

FW Gabriel Jesus, 7 (for Sergio Aguero, 65) -- Looked bright before seeing VAR take away his would-be winning strike. 

MF David Silva (for Rodri, 78) -- N/A

FW Riyad Mahrez (for Bernando Silva, 80) -- N/A

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