Spurs 0-1 Leicester
Report from the Lane
13 January 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
A goal seven minutes from time gave Leicester City all three points to bring a disappointing end to an excellent game of football at White Hart Lane on Wednesday evening.
As we were three days ago in the FA Cup tie against the same opponents, we were by far the dominant team in terms of possession but couldn’t find the all-important breakthrough. Instead it was the Foxes who grabbed a winner, Robert Huth heading home in the 83rd minute.
The visitors had to be thankful to Kasper Schmeichel who made a string of fine saves to keep us at bay, but Hugo Lloris was also called upon on a number of occasions as both teams produced some quality play at times.
Mauricio Pochettino kept faith with the team which drew 1-1 at Everton 10 days ago in our previous Premier League game and, as you’d expect from a top four clash, the game opened at a frenetic pace and it barely relented throughout the entire match.
Just two minutes were on the clock when we fashioned our first opportunity, Christian Eriksen picking up possession on halfway, driving forwards before firing a 20-yard shot that was comfortable for Schmeichel.
Eriksen was at the heart of most of our good work, pulling the strings in midfield and when he broke down the left and squared for Dele Alli four minutes later, the teenager controlled and drilled a right-foot shot just past the post.
We were particularly dominant in the opening quarter and went close again on 11 minutes when an Erik Lamela corner was headed downwards by Toby Alderweireld and Schmeichel had to tip the looping ball over the bar.
Leicester were always a threat though and they slowly started to get a foothold in the contest. On 18 minutes, Kyle Walker threw the ball in to Lloris whose pass back to him was intercepted by Marc Albrighton, he played it into the area but Jamie Vardy’s effort was blocked and Shinji Okazaki put the rebound wide.
Danny Drinkwater played in N’Golo Kante bursting down the right five minutes later, he slid a pass in to Okazaki but Alderweireld was there to nick the ball away as he went to shoot and Kante blazed the loose ball over.
And we were grateful to Lloris moments later when Okazaki headed the ball to the edge of the area and Drinkwater hit a sweet 22-yard volley which was heading for the bottom corner until our French goalkeeper tipped it away.
But we were still bossing the game in general and Harry Kane twisted and turned on the left edge of the Leicester area on 31 minutes before laying a pass into the path of Eriksen, who hit a curling effort from distance, but Schmeichel palmed away.
Ben Davies and Lamela then combined well down the left, Lamela broke into the area and fizzed in a cross which was just too high for Kane inside the six yard box.
The tempo did slow slightly for the closing minutes of the first period as the chances dried up and the teams went in at the interval all square and for a well-deserved breather.
The second period opened up the same as the first with plenty of attacking intent and the visitors went close twice in the opening minutes. First Drinkwater fired goalwards after a corner was cleared to the edge of our area and then Vardy saw a close-range effort deflect over the crossbar.
We almost found the breakthrough on 56 minutes when Jan Vertonghen played in Davies down the left and he delivered a low cross which Lamela swept towards the far post, but a slight deflection on the shot saw it drift inches wide and the resulting corner came to nothing.
There was real danger on the hour mark when Walker didn’t get clean contact on a backpass to Lloris and Vardy was onto the ball in a flash, but Lloris was equally speedy off his line and slid in to clear the ball.
And we then went up the other end and hit the crossbar! Lamela played a delightful through ball for Kane who chipped the ball over Schmeichel, but the keeper got enough of a touch to send the ball up and onto the woodwork.
It was still frantic stuff, really entertaining football, as we tried to find the opening goal while all the time being wary of Leicester’s threat on the break.
Changes came on 71 minutes, Mousa Dembele making a return to action from his injury to replace Eriksen while the Foxes took off Vardy for Leonardo Ulloa, but the chances kept coming. The Vertonghen-Davies combination worked well again, the Welsh full-back sending in another cross which Lamela met but sent over the bar.
Quite how we didn’t fall behind on 76 minutes remains a bit of a mystery. Leicester broke forward, Albrighton’s cross was met by Riyad Mahrez whose shot was blocked by Alderweireld, the rebound came to Ulloa who hit Okazaki with his effort before Ulloa’s second attempt was blocked by Vertonghen in the six yard box - incredible stuff!
At the other end, Schmeichel was there again to palm away a stinging drive from Alli, before the opening goal finally arrived - and it went to the visitors seven minutes from time. Christian Fuchs floated in a deep corner which fell perfectly for Huth, who headed back towards the far post and it crept in under the crossbar.
It was a goal which stunned the Lane and in truth, we never really recovered. Leicester dropped deep to preserve their lead and we had plenty of the ball in the final minutes but just couldn’t find a way through as the Foxes held on.
Mauricio Pochettino said
“It’s difficult to accept when you give your all,” said Mauricio.
“The effort was unbelievable but how do you explain when you see the stats, you create a lot more chances but you lose the game? This is football. We need to be strong and learn from this game.”
Mauricio on the match…
“We’re very disappointed because we gave great effort, managed the game and created chances. Leicester are on a very good run, they believe and when you don’t score and give the opportunity to a team to stay in the game, sometimes this can happen. We need to keep working, try to take the positives and prepare for Saturday because we have another tough game.”
Mauricio on the importance of scoring when you are on top in a game…
“Teams like Leicester who play in a different way to us, if you don’t score, they always have life and become more motivated. We created a lot of chances but (at 0-0) they are still alive. Then, you can make a mistake and concede a goal like the goal we conceded in the last few minutes and it’s difficult to come back into the game.”
Mauricio on getting back to work on Thursday…
“In football, you need to keep working hard, to be positive and the only way to try to win the next game is to work hard on the training ground, to recover and prepare for the next game. Every game is different and we need to be focused.”
Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris, Walker, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier (Onomah 90), Carroll (Son 82), Lamela, Alli, Eriksen (Dembele 71), Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Rose, Trippier, Wimmer.
Leicester (4-4-2): Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Dyer 90), Kanté, Drinkwater, Albrighton, Okazaki (King 77), Vardy (Ulloa 71). Substitutes (not used): Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Inler, Gray.
Goals: Leicester – Huth 83.
Yellow cards: Spurs - Dier.
Referee: Lee Mason.