Familiar story for Spurs in victory at Leicester City
PUBLISHED: 17:02 26 December 2014
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Tottenham overcame a scare to triumph 2-1 once again and record their fourth successive victory after beating basement boys Leicester City in the Midlands.
Spurs looked to be heading for a routine victory after Harry Kane put them ahead inside the first minute, netting his 15th goal of the season.
However, Leicester played their way back into the contest and deservedly equalised shortly after half-time, with Leonardo Ulloa making up for a bad miss from six yards by levelling at close range.
The Foxes were inches away from taking the lead as Riyad Mahrez hit the bar with a free kick, but it was a Tottenham set piece that won the day as Christian Eriksen surprised home goalkeeper Ben Hamer by shooting from a free kick out on the left flank in the 71st minute.
It was the Dane’s seventh goal of the season, with four of them being winners, and Mauricio Pochettino’s side have now won three of their last four games by a 2-1 scoreline.
Today’s triumph bore a particular resemblance to the recent 2-1 triumph at Swansea, when an early goal from Kane was cancelled out by a Wilfried Bony strike after half-time, and Eriksen struck the decisive goal.
There were two changes to the Spurs side that had lined up against Burnley on Saturday, with Danny Rose replacing Ben Davies at left-back and Benjamin Stambouli coming in for Ryan Mason, who limped off against the Clarets but was fit enough to be on the bench in the Midlands today.
Spurs could hardly have dreamt of a better start as they took the lead inside the first minute. Federico Fazio cleared the ball to Erik Lamela, who played Nacer Chadli in on the left and, although the Belgian underhit his low cross, Kane reacted to take the ball around Leicester defender Wes Morgan and finish past Hamer.
The Lilywhites went on to dominate possession for the opening 15 minutes, but Leicester gathered themselves and began to push back.
Jeffrey Schlupp ran from one half to the other and played the ball left to Ulloa, who teed it up for himself and hit a dipping volley that Hugo Lloris palmed over the bar.
Andy King then got to the by-line and saw his low cross hacked away, which led to a Tottenham break, with Kyle Walker haring away down the right, and Chadli’s shot was saved while Christian Eriksen’s follow-up was bravely blocked by Morgan.
Spurs got a let-off as the below-par Stambouli was bundled off the ball by Danny Drinkwater, but the Leicester man scewed his 20-yard effort badly wide – and Tottenham nearly doubled their lead at the other end. Nabil Bentaleb went clean through on goal but took a heavy touch at the crucial moment, allowing former Spurs defender Paul Konchesky to come across and take the ball away.
While Tottenham could have been 2-0 up, they were then forced onto the back foot as Leicester created three good openings in quick succession.
Ulloa was clipped by a sliding Rose in the box but stayed on his feet – which he may have regretted as he then scuffed the ball out for a goal kick.
Mahrez unleashed a low shot, forcing a good diving save from Lloris, and Ulloa then entered a candidate for the miss of the season, leaping to meet Mahrez’s cross six yards out and seeming certain to score, only to plant his header against the right post.
Leicester deserved to be level by this stage, but Kane missed a similarly enticing opportunity in first-half injury-time, heading wide from six yards from Lamela’s free kick.
Pochettino made a half-time substitution, swapping the under-performing Stambouli for Mason, but Tottenham conceded moments after the restart. Mahrez beat Bentaleb to a loose ball and got to the by-line before delivering a low cross to Ulloa, who held off Fazio at the near post and flicked the ball home at point-blank range.
It nearly got worse for Spurs as Fazio conceded a free kick and Mahrez stepped up to hit the crossbar with his 25-yard effort.
The game began to even out though and it became an end-to-end affair, typified by one spell in the 66th minute when Kane escaped and Eriksen was crowded out at the back post before Leicester broke and Schlupp unleashed a rasping effort which was well saved by the diving Lloris.
It was Tottenham who got the crucial goal with a moment of imagination and quality. The visitors won a free kick on the left flank and, with everyone expecting a cross, Eriksen shot towards the near post, seeing the ball go in off the inside of the upright.
Spurs still had work to do and the pressure built to almost unbearable levels in the final moments. Mahrez put in a low cross and Lloris dived to get fingers on it, which was just enough to stop Morgan from forcing the ball over the goalline.
Lloris continued to perform heroics as the ball kept coming into his box and was clattered by Vardy as the pair converged on a bouncing ball inside his area.
There were four nervy minutes of injury-time, but Spurs held on.
Tottenham: Lloris, Walker, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose, Stambouli (Mason 45), Bentaleb, Lamela, Eriksen, Chadli (Soldado 63), Kane (Paulinho 84)
Attenandance: 31,870 (3,261 away fans)
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