SUNDAY 10th FEBRUARY, 2019
(1.30pm - at Wembley)
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 3(1) LEICESTER CITY 1(0)
Son , 90+1
Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official:- Lee Mason
Spurs (4-3-2-1/3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Rose (sub Walker-Peters, 88); Sissoko, Winks, Skipp (sub Alderweireld, 71); Son, Eriksen; Llorente (sub Wanyama, 80)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Foyth, Aurier; Lucas Moura
Booked:- Son (simulation), Rose (foul on Ghezzal), Vertonghen (foul on Chilwell)
Leicester (4-2-3-1):- Schmeichel (Capt.); Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell; Tielemans, Ndidi; Ghezzal (sub Iheanacho, 72), Maddison, Barnes (sub Okazaki, 88); Gray (sub Vardy, 59)
Subs not used:- Ward; Simpson, Morgan; Choudhury
Booked:- Tielemans (foul on Sissoko)
Hugo the victor!
Every game has its moments, and in the end Spurs won this game because they grabbed their moments, but also because goalkeeper Hugo Lloris performed heroics making a penalty save from substitute Jamie Vardy, and making plenty of other less sensational saves.
Spurs had gone two up through Davinson Sanchez (his first club goal for Spurs) in the first half, and Christian Eriksen in the second. The penalty save had come when we were just one up, and Leicester did get a goal back through Vardy. The game and the three points were not secured until we entered added time and Son Heung-min raced away with the ball passed by Moussa, inside the Spurs half, with all but Jonny Evans and goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel barring "Sonny"'s path to goal. They did not succeed.
Just before the first goal, Hugo Lloris walked back towards his own goal and berated some of the Spurs fans, who had presumably (and rightly in my view) been complaining about his insistence to try to play out from the back. It is ironic that the first goal arose from a corner won after a rare long ball out by Lloris.
Whilst the scoreline flatters Spurs more than a little, and we could have been "Les Miserables", Hugo and his team, his manager and their fans were the clear victors in this game.
It came as a surprise that Jamie Vardy was left on the bench, but I am given to believe that all is not well between the Leicester players and their manager Claude Puel.
Mauricio Pochettino has enforced absences such as Kane, Dele, Davies and Dier, but he chose to leave Toby Alderweireld on the bench, along with Lucas Moura. There was also no sign of Erik Lamela. No doubt there will be one or two changes for Wednesday night's game against Borussia Dortmund.
Spurs kicked off and we won an early corner after which Danny Rose crossed from the left (fed by Son, I think), and it was the other full back, Kieran Trippier who met the cross and had a shot blocked. Leicester also threatened early with Chilwell getting forward often, and prevented from making progress by an excellent tackle by Moussa Sissoko, who won deserved cheers and applause for plenty of interventions in the game.
Leicester had a free kick on the right, taken by Maddison and headed goalward by Harry Maguire, but Lloris was his equal and pushed the ball over the bar. Leicester were being allowed to play by Spurs and gave a good account of themselves, without scoring in the first half. Harvey Barnes had a shot from the left which passed wide to the left of Lloris's goal.
Another factor in the game was referee Michael Oliver. I am pretty sure that his only fans today were members of his family. Certainly Spurs got very little out of him in the way of favourable or perhaps even fair decisions. After 15 minutes he booked Son for simulation in the Leicester area, where I understand that Harry Maguire had committed a clear foul. Those of you who have seen this on TV have a better idea than me here.
Spurs had a good attack moving to the left with Son and Eriksen involved, before Danny Rose had a shot blocked, before he tried to tee up Llorente, who had been caught offside. Danny Rose got booked soon after that for a foul on Ghezzal. The referee was offering no leeway to the Spurs players, with three cards shown in the first half hour.
Barnes passed from the left to Maddison, who hit a left foot shot wide of Hugo's left post. That corner from Lloris's long clearance came after 33 minutes. I am sure Llorente had fielded the ball, and enabled the attack which led to the corner. Trippier passed fairly short to Eriksen, who hit a fine cross towards the far post which was met by Davinson Sanchez's diving header into the net. That was his first Spurs goal, and it was suitably celebrated in front of the East Stand.
The only other clear chance for Spurs in that half fell to Sissoko, who scooped a shot over the target following Danny Rose's cross.
Spurs had a nice quick-fire move forward with sharp passing through the midfield two minutes into the second half. Son pushed the ball out to Trippier, whose cross was met by Llorente, but the header passed wide.
At the other end Pereira crossed from the right and Gray had a header on target held by Lloris. Gray had another chance following a ball by Barnes on the left, but that was fodder for Hugo. Similarly Chilwell's right foot shot was easy for our captain. What was a concern was the fact that Leicester were getting plenty of the ball, and finding feet in our half, which we did not always manage with pace or ease.
The award of a penalty against Spurs came when Maddison was allegedly bundled over by Jan Vertonghen. Vardy was called upon to replace Gray and to take the penalty. It might not have been one of Jamie's best, but Hugo doesn't often even go the right way, let alone make a penalty save, but this time he was the hero as the shot came at a nice height for him to his right, for him to push the ball round for a corner.
It looked as if Spurs would make Leicester pay dearly for the penalty failure, as we took a two goal lead following an exchange between Llorente and Eriksen, with Eriksen nicely placing his right foot shot inside Schmeichel's right post.
Hugo made another great save; this time from Harvey Barnes, who received the ball from Vardy and hit a low right footed shot which Hugo saved with his left foot. I wrote in my preview about the gulf in class between Spurs and Leicester and Leicester's fans prove that point with that moronic "Ah, you're sh*t!" directed at any opposition keeper. Today of all days that comment was severely misplaced.
Toby Alderweireld replaced Oliver Skipp, and Spurs reverted to a back three with Trippier and Rose as wing-backs and Sissoko and Winks inside them. It didn't stop Leicester's determination to drive at the Spurs goal and they got a goal back following a low cross by Pereira on the right and Vardy's close range turn-in in the middle of the goal area.
Another Victor - Wanyama - replaced Llorente, and the Spurs defence was re-inforced, with a deluge of blue shirts heading their way, ultimately including more attackers such as Iheanacho and Okazaki. Vardy had a shot go outside the right of goal, and Iheanacho had a shot which I thought hit the side netting. Lloris collected another header following a Leicester corner.
"Sonny" had mis-timed previous runs badly and had been caught offside two or three times just inside the Leicester half, but as the board went up to show 4 minutes of added time, he was still in his own half to receive a clearance from Sissoko and to race away into the Leicester half, finally securing the win with a low finish past Schmeichel's right hand.
I did note Pochettino's exuberant celebration in the technical area, and this included him kicking a ball (a spare?) high into the stand behind him. This was our fourth successive win, and we remain just five points behind Liverpool and Man City. City's incredible 6-0 win over Chelsea leaves both Chelsea and Arsenal 10 points behind us, with Manchester United one point closer. This was our fourth successive Premier League win, and next up in the league is Burnley away on 23rd February. First up is the little matter of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund.
A correspondent has suggested to me that Kaspar Schmeichel has conceded more goals against Spurs in our last six meetings (18) than did his father in his entire Manchester United career. I'll have to research that!
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