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Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 Leicester City
Brian Jeeves reporting from White Hart Lane
Turning the clock back to January 13, 2016. Leicester City arrived at White Hart Lane and continued to upset the applecart, despite the experts insisting their bubble would eventually burst. I mean, Leicester winning the Premier League! It couldn’t possibly happen, could it?
FORMER Chelsea defender Robert Huth headed a dramatic late winner at White Hart Lane as high flying Leicester City put a huge dent in Tottenham Hotspur’s Barclays Premier League title hopes
It definitely felt like a case of Deja Vu around the Lane. Spurs and the Foxes had already crossed swords three days previous in a pulsating FA Cup tie, but despite the sides being due to meet again in the replay next week, this was viewed by many as the main event. Leicester arrived in North London sitting second in the Premier League, while fourth-placed Spurs knew a victory would carry them within a point of Claudio Ranieri’s men.
Once again, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and Ranieri rang the changes. The Argentine notably recalled Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane to the starting line-up, while the Foxes welcomed back leading marksman Jamie Vardy, who missed Sunday’s cup tie due to minor groin surgery.
Danish footballer of the year Christian Eriksen tested Kasper Schmeichel with a low drive, while Alli fizzed just the wrong side of an upright as Spurs enjoyed slightly the better of crisp early exchanges. And the hosts went even closer when Toby Alderweireld’s downward header was brilliantly tipped over by a fully extended Schmeichel. Meanwhile, Shinji Okazaki’s snapshot was marginally off target, then N’Golo Kante fired over from close range as the visitors finally offered a response.
Leicester had found their feet and it took an incredible one-handed save from Frenchman Lloris to keep out Danny Drinkwater’s stinging volley as the Foxes began to press with real intent. At the other end, Schmeichel used his fists to beat away another effort from Eriksen, while Erik Lamela’s angled attempt was a whisker away as Spurs probed for an opening.
And the caginess of the affair continued after the break. Both Drinkwater and Vardy had efforts deflected behind as Leicester asked questions of the stubborn Spurs rearguard. But it was the home side who created the clearest opening. Lamela perhaps should have done better when guiding Eriksen’s centre off target from six-yards.
The sides continued to trade half-chances. Lloris used his feet to thwart Vardy, while Kane’s deflected effort illuded Schmeichel but agonisingly hit the face of the bar. Lamela passed up another glorious opportunity, side-footing over after Ben Davies had picked him out, then Schmeichel expertly blocked Alli’s thundering attempt. But with time running out Leicester made the vital breakthrough. Former Chelsea defender Robert Huth met Christian Fuchs’ pinpoint flag-kick to nod firmly beyond Lloris, sending the visiting fans into raptures and sending shockwaves through the White Hart Lane faithful in the process.
Despite the damage to Spurs aspirations, many fans filtered out at full time now acknowledging Leicester as genuine contenders. Indeed, this victory lifted them level on points with leaders Arsenal, with only goal difference separating the two teams.
Tottenham Hotspur will look to get back on track in the Premier League when struggling Sunderland are the visitors to White Hart Lane on Saturday, January 16 (12:45pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Kyle Walker, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, Eric Dier (Josh Onomah 90′), Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen (Mousa Dembele 71′), Tom Carroll (Heung-Min Son 82′), Ben Davies Subs not used: Michel Vorm, Danny Rose, Kieran Trippier, Kevin Wimmer
Booked: Eric Dier (foul)
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Drinkwater, Wes Morgan (Capt), Robert Huth Jamie Vardy (Leonardo Ulloa 71′), Marc Albrighton, N’Golo Kante, Danny Simpson, Shinji Okazaki (Andy King 77′), Riyad Mahrez (Nathan Dyer 90′), Christian Fuchs Subs not used: Mark Schwarzer, Demarai Gray, Marcin Wasilewski, Gokhan Inler
Goals: Robert Huth 83′
Referee: Lee Mason
Assistants: Lee Betts and Ian Hussin
Fourth Official: Jonathan Moss