Tottenham see off Leicester to remain in title fight


Tottenham were somewhat fortunate to beat Leicester at Wembley on Sunday, but nevertheless emerged with a 3-1 victory to keep them in the title picture.

Mauricio Pochettino made three changes to the side that beat Newcastle United last weekend. Meanwhile, Leicester boss Claude Puel decided to operate without an recognised striker as he chose to go with Demarai Gray through the middle and leave Jamie Vardy on the substitutes bench.

Leicester had the first chance of the game within the opening ten minutes. A free-kick was sent deep towards Harry Maguire, whose headed effort was tipped over by Hugo Lloris.

Harvey Barnes was the next Foxes player to be presented with an opportunity to give the visitors the lead. After Michael Oliver waved away protests for a Tottenham free-kick, Ben Chilwell rolled in Barnes, but the young Englishman dragged his shot wide of Lloris’ left hand post.

Heung-Min Son felt aggrieved to not be given a penalty just minutes later and was even more frustrated to be shown a yellow card for diving. The South Korean appeared to get to a loose ball before the oncoming Maguire but referee Oliver felt otherwise, booking the 26-year-old.

Tottenham finally opened the scoring just after the half hour mark. A corner from Kieran Trippier was clipped to Christian Eriksen on the edge of the penalty area for the Dane to whip in an inviting ball, Davinson Sanchez obliging to power a header home and relieve the pressure the hosts had been under.

There were suspicions of offside about the goal, but it signalled the Columbian’s first for Spurs.

Puel’s men continued to attack with a Youri Tielemans effort almost catching Lloris out at his near post but Spurs held on to maintain their one goal lead at half time.

Harvey Barnes squandered a number of chances for his side Photo: Andy Wilkins

Second half proceedings started much like the first, with a barrage of Leicester attacks and chances. A Gray header from close range could only find the arms of Lloris.

There were ironic cheers from the Tottenham fans when Michael Oliver finally gave them their first free-kick of the game on 52 minutes, but they were not celebrating for long.

After good work from Wilfried Ndidi, and then Gray, the ball ended up in a scramble in the box which culminated in a Leicester penalty.

As Tottenham looked to clear, Jan Vertonghen was judged to have barge James Maddison over in the box, a decision that looked very soft given the Leicester player’s willingness to create the contact.

Leicester’s frontman Jamie Vardy was stripped and his first duty was to restore parity. The 2015/16 golden boot winner took the ball from Maddison and placed it down calmly. The England forward stepped up to take it with his first touch of the match but was equalled by a good Lloris save low down to his right.

Tottenham quickly capitalised on their momentum following the save as they doubled their lead just five minutes later.

A clearance from Ricardo Pereira was charged down by young Oliver Skipp, the ball ricocheted over him to Eriksen. The Dane played a one-two with Fernando Llorente before unleashing a effort from well outside the penalty area to beat Kasper Schmeichel.

There were again appeals from the Leicester camp who protested that the clearance hit Skipp’s arm, but the goal stood.

Leicester would perhaps feel aggrieved, but were being punished for sloppy finishing and decision making at the vital moments.

Jamie Vardy’s penalty miss was just one of a number of twists and turns in a frantic affair Photo: Andy Wilkins

Barnes was again presented with a golden chance when he went through one-on-one with Lloris. But despite looking as though he set himself to score, he could only force Tottenham’s World Cup winning captain into a smart save with his feet.

The away side did eventually half the deficit on 76 minutes through Vardy. After good work from Pereira, who was impressive going forward all day, a low cross the face of goal was met by Vardy who flicked it in to halve the deficit.

The last fifteen minutes was a Leicester bombardment of the Tottenham box. Chilwell, Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho all had chances to grab what would have been a more than deserved point for visitors.

It was a Leicester attack that ultimately sealed their fate, however. While piling men forward, a Chilwell cross was cleared well by the impressive Moussa Sissoko. The clearance was missed by a slipping Ndidi for Son to race through from the half way line, all the way into the area eventually sliding the ball past Schmeichel.

The goal came much to the relief of Pochettino, who looked to the air with his arms aloft as his side’s title charge remains strong entering mid-February.


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