Manchester City got off to the perfect start at White Hart Lane as they put themselves ahead in the opening minutes. Carlos Tevez's fine run found James Milner, whose cutback was arrowed into the net by Samir Nasri, whose ex-Arsenal status will have been salt in the wounds of Tottenham. Already the villain of the piece, the Frenchman did yet more to earn the ire of the home fans after he went in with a high challenge on Kyle Walker just afterwards, which went unseen and thus unpunished by the officials.
Despite the early setback, Spurs were unflustered and continued to attack, but looked worryingly outmatched in terms of quality at times. The home side did come close when Clint Dempsey slid in an overlapping run from Walker, but Joe Hart raced out to smother the ball and deny the opportunity.
When City did get forward, however, the results were frequently devastating. Carlos Tevez was in fine form and played in Edin Dzeko, who saw a shot hit Michael Dawson and loop over the crossbar. The former United striker was soon involved again, playing in Nasri, who appeared to be in the mood - the Frenchman nutmegged one defender and sent in a toe-poke which was just wide of the post.
Hugo Lloris was in decent form for the hosts, and kept his side in it when Matija Nastasic flicked on a corner for Tevez, but the keeper made an excellent save to deny the Argentinian what would have been a deserved goal. As half-time drew to a close, Tottenham were under siege and appeared to be outgunned by their rivals.
The second half started slowly and scrappily, and it wasn't long before Andre Villas-Boas decided to make a chance, Tom Huddlestone and Lewis Holtby replacing the ineffective Scott Parker and Gylfi Sigurdsson. The biggest cheer, however, was reserved for Emmanuel Adebayor's replacement with Jermain Defoe after the striker had put in a typically frustrating performance.
Out of nowhere, the changes seemed to have an effect as Spurs sparked into life. They had been passing and probing without creating much in the way of good chances, but when it came, it could hardly be missed, Gareth Bale drifting over to the right wing and clipping in a fine low cross with the outside of his left foot which left Clint Dempsey with a simple finish at the back post to undo City's fine play.
Manchester City now had fifteen minutes to find a response, but the goal energised the hosts and seemed to deflate the visitors. Spurs rampaged forwards and after a devastating spell, City's hopes evaporated. Vincent Kompany was at fault for leaving Bale's cross for the first goal, and he was soon culpable again as, with Spurs counter-attacking, he allowed Jermain Defoe in the left channel to cut inside onto his right foot and smash an unstoppable finish past Hart and into the far corner.
White Hart Lane was rocking, and so were City - amazingly, Spurs added a third just afterwards, once again taking advantage of the space left in front of the City defence. Gareth Bale got on the end of Huddlestone's pass and brushed Gael Clichy aside before smashing a fine finish over Hart to all but seal the victory.
The result was a huge win for Spurs, thanks mostly to their returning absentees, but sees them in with a fine chance of clinching a Champions League place that appeared to be slipping away from them. For City, their minute title hopes are now almost certainly over - and Manchester United can now seal the title with a victory against Aston Villa tomorrow.