Manchester City moved a step closer to the Premier League title after capping a turbulent week with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.
The leaders – who had John Stones sent off in the first half – need eight points from five games to reclaim the crown after the exceptional Phil Foden and Rodri turned the game at Villa Park.
John McGinn’s opener after 20 seconds stunned the visitors but they recovered to win after their ill-fated entry and quick withdrawal from the controversial Super League this week.
They even survived after Stones was sent off for a late challenge on Jacob Ramsey – ruling him out of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final with Tottenham.
Matt Cash also saw red in the second half after two quickfire yellow cards for fouls on Foden to ease any fears of a Villa comeback.
The hosts remain 11th with any European hopes they had slipping away.
City boss Pep Guardiola said before the Super League’s mass exodus “sport is not sport if losing doesn’t matter” and City were losing after just 20 seconds.
They were caught cold by Tyrone Mings’ quick free-kick which a stretching Stones failed to cut out.
It fell to Ollie Watkins and the striker crossed for McGinn, arriving ahead of Oleksandr Zinchenko, to sweep in from 10 yards. It was Villa’s fastest Premier League goal for 26 years.
City levelled following a terrific flowing move.
Confident City continued to press with the game almost exclusively played in Villa’s half and Mahrez had a free-kick deflect over.
Though Villa’s concentration levels could only keep City at bay for so long and the champions-elect broke through again five minutes before the break.
Foden’s corner was only half-cleared, Ilkay Gundogan and Mahrez kept the ball alive and Rodri glanced into the corner after Martinez failed to beat him to Silva’s cross.
City looked on course to cruise to another three points but just four minutes later Stones was dismissed.
It was late rather than malicious and the decision left Guardiola fuming but Cash levelled the numbers up after 56 minutes.
It was rash from the right-back – who had been booked for a foul on Foden just two minutes before – when he chopped down the midfielder again after losing the ball.
The red played into City’s hands and they were happy to control the pace without leaving themselves stretched.
City saw out the game with ease to leave them 11 points clear at the top.
Tottenham took the first steps of moving on from their European Super League shame as they began life after Jose Mourinho with a late 2-1 Premier League win over Southampton.
It has been a tumultuous 72 hours for Spurs as since they last played at Everton on Friday night they joined the ESL, sacked Mourinho, appointed 29-year-old Ryan Mason as interim head coach and then, after much derision, buckled under the weight of extreme resistance to the breakaway plans and quit.
After fans protested before the game against chairman Daniel Levy and owners ENIC, things did not look like they were going to get better in the wake of Mourinho’s exit as Danny Ings gave Southampton a first-half lead.
But Gareth Bale, back in the side after being frozen out under Mourinho, levelled and then minutes after VAR had ruled out a Son Heung-min goal, the decision-review system awarded Spurs a penalty at the death, which Son struck home.
It was just the tonic the beleaguered club needed going into Sunday’s Carabao Cup final and they move back into the top six, just two points off the top four.
It was also a fairy-tale evening for Mason, who joined Spurs as an eight-year-old and was cruelly forced to retire as a player aged just 26, beginning what could be a seven-game reign with a win.
Southampton arrived with just three Premier League wins this year but should have gone ahead inside the first five minutes as goalkeeper Hugo Lloris produced a fine double save.
First he did brilliantly to palm away Mohammed Salisu’s header and then recovered superbly to keep out Che Adams’ follow-up with his legs.
Mourinho may no longer be in the building but the same defensive problems exist and Saints took a deserved lead after 30 minutes.
Ings got in front of Serge Aurier from a corner and sent a glancing header in off a post for his 12th goal of the season.
Mason had vowed to send his side out to be brave and aggressive, but, robbed of star man Harry Kane, it was a lifeless performance in the opening 45 minutes.
However, they should have gone in level at half-time as Lucas Moura missed a great chance as he blazed over at the far post.
It did not take much, but there was a big improvement after the break and Bale was at the forefront of it.
A lovely flick teed-up Son, whose shot was blocked, and then a trademark swerving effort from distance tested the handling of Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
The deserved equaliser came on the hour and it was a moment of class from Bale.
Tottenham’s best move of the game saw Tanguy Ndombele, Son and Moura combine, with the latter’s blocked shot falling to the Welshman at the far post and he sent a delicious curling effort in off the far post.
Spurs thought they had scored the winner 16 minutes from time with what looked like a lovely goal.
Giovani Lo Celso played in Sergio Reguilon, whose pull-back to Son was arrowed into the bottom corner. However, VAR spotted Moura in an offside position in McCarthy’s line of sight, even though the goalkeeper had no chance of saving it.
But VAR paid them back in the 89th minute as, after a free-kick was initially awarded by referee David Coote for a foul by Moussa Djenepo, replays showed it took place on the line of the 18-yard box and was ruled as a penalty.
Son stepped up to strike home the spot-kick and give Spurs fresh impetus.