Antonio’s verdict on Leeds
Sun 21 November 2021, 20:30|Tottenham Hotspur
Antonio Conte was delighted to see a change of tactics pay dividend as we came from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday.
The first half proved difficult against a typically energetic Leeds and there were few complaints when Marcelo Bielsa’s team took the lead just before the break, Daniel James on target from close range.
The second half was a different story. We were on the front foot from the off, Harry Kane struck the post inside a minute and Heung-Min Son’s shot was deflected onto the crossbar before Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg swept home the equaliser from the edge of the box on 58 minutes.
Noticeably, there were no celebrations from the goalscorer, who instead waved his team-mates back for the restart. We were now on top, Kane and Ben Davies went close and then the winner as Sergio Reguilon followed in Eric Dier’s free-kick that deflected off the inside of the post and left him with a tap in.
On a day of firsts - Antonio’s first home Premier League game, first home game with a full stadium, first time he’d competed against Bielsa - Sergio’s first goal in a Spurs shirt proved enough.
“The game wasn’t easy, but we knew this,” said Antonio. “I read the stats from Leeds, they are fast in their intensity, in their running, but I have seen a lot of positive things, especially because in the first half, we struggled, we struggled a lot in the tactical aspect, that depends on me, but in the second half, we changed it, we changed plan
“I asked the players to go to press with intensity and the game changed totally. We must be pleased. To have this kind of answer is important. I was a player, and I know very well that the moment is not good for us, to finish the half 1-0 down, our fans not satisfied with our performance, you can go down. Instead, in the second half, we found the right way, and this is very important, because I know we have a lot of room for improvement.”
Asked about that reaction from the players in the second half, Antonio added: “It means this team has character, has personality. When you do this, after a first half where you struggle a lot, it means that the players have character.
“I’m happy also because I think between the first half and the second half, I found the right words, we changed it tactically, and also the right words for the players because in this kind of situation, it’s not good to shout, but to have a good chat to show confidence, because I trust these players, and they know this.
“Now we have to continue to work in the way we’ve been working in these three weeks. We know on Thursday we have another important game (NS Mura in the Europa Conference League). Then another important game against Burnley (Premier League, next Sunday). We’ve just started, and we need to continue in the right way.”