LONDON — Manchester City responded to officially losing its Premier League title by beating Tottenham 1-0 through Sergio Aguero's goal to cement second place on Sunday.
The Argentina striker took his league-high tally to 22 goals by finishing off a classic counterattack in the 29th minute, running onto David Silva's pass and sending a rising shot inside the near post.
City has recovered from a slump to win its last three matches and virtually guarantee a place in the Champions League next season. The team is provisionally three points ahead of third-place Arsenal, whose first of two games in hand is at Hull on Monday, and five clear of fourth-place Manchester United.
Two wins from its last three matches will secure City an automatic berth in Europe's top competition.
City kicked off at White Hart Lane less than an hour after being replaced as English champions by Chelsea. Yet a positive finish to the season is providing momentum going into next season — and increasing the chances of City manager Manuel Pellegrini keeping his job after a trophyless campaign.
"They know we will be back next year," City goalkeeper Joe Hart said in a message to Chelsea.
Aguero has come good just when City needed him, with his fifth goal in the past four games making him likely to finish the season as the league's top scorer. Tottenham striker Harry Kane is second in the scoring charts with 20 goals and was denied on two occasions by Hart.
Aguero has a better scoring record against Spurs than any other team, with 10 goals in seven games against them. He netted all four in City's 4-1 win at Etihad Stadium in the reverse fixture in October.
His latest goal was sparked by a quick throw-out by Hart after collecting the ball from a corner. Silva charged downfield, before cutting inside and slipping a perfectly weighted pass to Aguero for the striker to hit a first-time shot past Hugo Lloris.
Aguero could have had a penalty earlier in the first half after having his legs clipped by Fazio, and nearly grabbed a second when he ran onto Fernandinho's pass, rounded Lloris and skewed his shot wide while stretching.
Tottenham had more possession — and had 21 shots — but could not find a way past Hart as Kane, Paulinho and Ryan Mason were defied.
"It showed what we were about," the England goalkeeper said. "We didn't play well today (and) we've done to Tottenham what teams have done to us."
City ended a run of four straight away defeats in the league.