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Spurs v Leeds, 12.11.22

My thanks go to Declan Mulcahy for another excellent report.

Saturday 12 November 2022, 3:00pm
Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur (1) 4 Leeds United (2) 3

Spurs scorers:-
Kane, 25
Davies, 51
Bentancur, 81, 83

Leeds scorers:-
Summerville, 10
Rodrigo, 43, 76

Tottenham Hotspur (3-4-3):
1 H Lloris (c); 15 E Dier, 34 C Lenglet (6 D Sánchez 57), 33 B Davies; 12 Emerson Royal (2 M Doherty 57), 5 P-E Hřjbjerg, 30 R Bentancur, 14 I Perisic; 21 D Kulusevski (27 Lucas Moura 90), 10 H Kane, 9 Richarlison (38 Y Bissouma 69)

Subs not used:- 20 F Forster, 24 D Spence, 25 J Tanganga, 4 O Skipp, 11 B Gil

Booked:- Bentancur (57 foul on Summerville))

Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Jesse Marsch
1 I Meslier; 25 R Kristensen (49 M Joseph 89), 5 R Koch, 6 L Cooper (c), 21 P Struijk; 12 T Adams, 8 M Roca (2 L Ayling 79); 29 W Gnonto (42 S Greenwood 45), 7 B Aaronson, 10 C Summerville; 19 Rodrigo (30 J Gelhardt 89)

Subs not used:- 22 J Robles, 3 J Firpo, 14 D Llorente, 18 D Gyabi, 16 S Perkins

Booked:- Roca (49 foul on Dier), Adams (71 foul on Kulusevski) Sent Off: Adams (87 second booking foul on Bissouma)

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Attendance: 61,667
Referee:- Michael Salisbury
Assistants:- James Mainwaring, Derek Eaton
Fourth Official:- Graham Scott
VAR:- Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR:- Natalie Aspinall.

Kulusevski and Bentancur to the Rescue

Spurs v Leeds, 12.11.22

For the eighth game in a row, four of them at home, Spurs conceded the first goal of the match. Spurs equalised. Three times this sequence was repeated. Late in the game Spurs finally took the lead and won the game. The two players most responsible for this win were the two excellent signings from Juventus last January Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.

Spurs' form since the middle of October has been a concern. They had lost three of the last four league games including two at home. There had also been a bad defeat against Nottingham Forest in the League Cup three days ago. It was thus important that the team should record a win in the final game before the mid-season break for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.

Leeds United’s league form this season has been patchy. They were unbeaten in their first three games including a fine 3-0 win against Chelsea. They only gained two points from their next eight games. They surprised everyone by taking three points against Liverpool at Anfield and followed that with a come-from-behind win against Bournemouth last weekend (not unlike Spurs the weekend before that).

Spurs made two changes from the team that lost to Liverpool last weekend. Richarlison made his first league appearance since his injury and Kulusevski his first start since his return to fitness. Sessegnon was absent through injury and Bissouma dropped to the bench. Heung-min Son was observed watching the match in a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles.

Leeds made one change from the win over Bournemouth with Wilfried Gnonto making his full debut replacing the injured Jack Harrison.

There was almost a sense of inevitability when Leeds opened the scoring after ten minutes. Aaronson and Hojbjerg tussled for the ball and the Leeds player won it too easily. He set up Summerville on the left of the box. Despite the attention of Dier he scored with a shot to the near post. It was his fourth goal in the last four league games.

Spurs had a couple of chances which fell to Emerson Royal. Kulusevski set him up in the box but Meslier saved the shot. Davies created a better opportunity for him but he skied his shot high over the bar.

Aaronson set up Summerville again. He had only Lloris to beat but the latter blocked the ball with his legs. The next chance also fell to Leeds. Rodrigo in the box hit the bar but this effort would have been chalked off for offside.

Then Spurs equalised. Following a corner on the right Meslier rose highest and pushed the ball out with his hands. It fell to Kane on the left of the box who scored with a shot. As Meslier was deflecting the ball he had contact with Lenglet and fell backwards into the net. The Leeds players claimed that the goal should be disallowed because of the contact with the goalkeeper but they were overruled. This was Kane’s seventh goal in the same number of home league fixtures.

With about five minutes remaining before the break Leeds again went ahead. After a Leeds corner the ball was cleared but only just outside the box, Kristensen’s header put Rodrigo clear and he duly scored with a shot.

Not for the first time recently Spurs conceded two goals in the first half but they performed better than they had before the interval in previous games. There was a lot more effort they pressed Leeds at times and scored a goal.

The only change at the break saw Leeds replace Gnonto by Greenwood.

Spurs equalised soon after the interval. Kulusevski made a run down the right and crossed into the box. Kane had a shot which was blocked and rebounded just outside the box. Davies following up unleashed a shot through a crowded box. Goalkeeper Messlier and Kristensen were each close to the goal line. They both touched the ball but neither could stop it entering the net.

This should have been the catalyst for Spurs to take over and dominate the game but they didn’t. They were somewhat quiescent and Leeds at times looked the more likely team to score next. This finally came to pass when Roca was the provider for Rodrigo on the left of the box and he scored with a shot towards the far post. This was his fifth goal in four league matches. With fourteen minutes remaining Spurs were contemplating a third consecutive home league defeat.

Spurs have on occasions shown the ability to triumph over adversity this season and this was to be one of those days. With nine minutes remaining Doherty crossed the ball from the right and a Leeds defender headed it out. It fell straight to Bentancur on the edge of the box and he scored with a shot which took a deflection off Ayling.

Two minutes later Kulusevski ran into the box on the right and set up Bentancur who scored this time with a shot towards the left post. This was a goal made in Turin.

Did Leeds have anything left to respond with in the remaining seven minutes? Halfway through this period Adams who had already been booked made a heavy physical challenge on Bissouma and was duly sent off. It was an act of stupidity for a player who had previously been booked.

Spurs saw out the remaining minutes against the ten men without too much difficulty.

Ultimately it was a happy ending but why does it always have to be this hard? Spurs last three wins have been against Bournemouth, Marseille and Leeds United today. Over the course of these three matches they have been behind for a total of 72 minutes and have only led for seven minutes excluding time added on. Of course it shows character and determination but it must be hard on the nerves of all the players and management. (Ed:- And the fans!)

Spurs had both Kulusevski and Richarlison available from the start of the game for the first time since their injuries. Richarlison seemed to lack match fitness. He didn’t have much impact and was replaced by Bissouma after 69 minutes.

Kulusevski was in fine form today contributing to the second and fourth goals and generally being a threat.

Rodrigo Bentancur continued his purple patch today. He has scored five times this season four of which have been vital goals; the equaliser against Sporting Club; the winning goal against Bournemouth; the third equaliser and the winning goal today. The earliest of these goals came in the 80th minute and the latest two minutes into time added on. For a player who is nominally a deep-lying midfielder he has been outstanding this season. He was booked for the fifth time this season and will miss the first game after the resumption of the competition away to Brentford.

This was a good day for players named Rodrigo. The Leeds version also scored two goals.

The result today means that Spurs end the first half of the season on a high note. Notwithstanding some poor recent results Spurs are still fourth in the table and have lots to play for in both the league and the Champions League when the season resumes.

The league table has a slightly strange look to it. All of the teams from fifth place down are closer to the bottom three in terms of points than the top though Manchester United have a couple of games in hand. Liverpool and Chelsea are in sixth and eighth places with only 22 and 21 points respectively. Spurs with 29 points are eight points off the top.

Eleven of the Spurs squad with depart shortly to join their national teams for the 2022 World Cup finals (Three of these will captain their national teams, Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and Heung-min Son if he is fit). The remaining 13 members of the squad will be available to Conte and his management team. It is to be hoped that he will drill them intensively and iron out some of the errors which have been occurring recently. There is a definite opportunity to provide the springboard for a successful second half of the season.

Conte was pleased after the game and said “I think the positive things are that we showed great character, great desire and great will not to give up and to believe, to believe in the win. I try every day to transfer this concept that we have to start the game and then until the end we need to fight and see what happened. Never give up, this is our mantra. This is the positive side.’

Jesse Marsch the Leeds manager ruefully observed “We've encapsulated our 16-game season in one match. Moments that were really good and really on top of things and in control. And then moments where we're vulnerable and make easy mistakes that at this level you can't make because you get punished.”

• Spurs have scored 31 goals in 15 games in the Premier League this term - only once previously have they scored more at this stage of a season in the competition (35 in 2009-10).

• Tottenham have rescued 13 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.

• Leeds' Summerville and Rodrigo became the first pair of teammates to both score in four consecutive Premier League games for a specific team.

• Spurs have scored 10 goals from corners in the Premier League this season - the most of any team. Six of those have been netted by Kane.

· Squad numbers,appearances,bookings & goalscorers
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