Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Ryan Mason’s Spurs’ top-four hopes suffered a major setback as clinical Leeds United finishing, from Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford and super-sub, Rodrigo, saw the Yorkshire side home. Son Heung-Min’s first-half leveller was ultimately only a consolation, on Saturday.
Marcelo Bielsa’s men continue to pull up trees and back in the top flight after sixteen long years, they maintained their unbeaten home run against the so-called ‘Big Six’.
Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, had every reason to look glum after Leeds went straight for the jugular, with Hugo Lloris pulling off a couple of fine saves, before a 13th minute Eric Dier slip allowed Northern Ireland schemer, Dallas, a free-header high into a waiting net.
Leeds continued to ask all the questions, but in a rare midfield lapse of concentration, Son levelled after the back-in-favour, Dele Alli, split open the home defence.
That poor concession saw the often animated Bielsa stomping up and down his technical area, but he was almost appeased barely three minutes later when Jack Harrison let fly and Lloris was again the Lillywhites’ saviour.
But – arguably – the turning point of this early kick-off saw a clean through Harry Kane denied by an offside flag, after VAR official, Paul Tierney, ruled in the home side’s favour
This Spurs’ recovery was firmly stopped in its tracks a minute before the interval when hitman Bamford – no doubt impressing England boss, Gareth Southgate – stooped to nod home Ezgjan Alioski’s fine cross.
A strangely quiet Kane did, again, have the ball in Meslier’s goal, soon after the restart, before Leeds soon gave away possession, trying to play out from the back, and Tottenham’s best player on the day, Son, was unlucky to see his angled drive only hit the side-netting.
To their credit, Spurs kept pressing and the Elland Roaders had to endure several uncomfortable moments, with Meslier making a fine save to deny the overlapping Serge Aurier, on 71 minutes, before Kane’s set-piece clipped the top of the bar, barely a minute later.
However, that was about as good as it got for the North Londoners. Leeds hit back and having seen Robert Koch, Harrison and former Arsenal youngster, Luke Ayling, waste presentable chances, it was last summer’s star signing, Rodrigo – on for the tiring Bamford – who repaid a slice of his considerable transfer fee, with a fine, ruthless 84th-minute finish to put the game out of reach.
Talking to Spurs Official, Interim Head Coach, Mason admitted: “It’s always disappointing to lose a game of football. They started better than us and got their goal lead. We responded and got a good goal ourselves.”
Showing his frustration, Mason added: “I couldn’t understand, at one-one, Kane’s ‘goal’ was given offside. It’s amazing what stuff like that can do for the momentum of the game.”
He added: “We went in disappointed at being two-one at half-time, but in the second half, we created some good openings.”
“There were some big moments. In games like these, you have to take your chances. We lost the game when they scored the [third] goal.”
Mason admitted: “Things went against us. We probably weren’t as clinical as we would have liked to have been. Their keeper pulled off a couple of brilliant saves. Harry hit the bar. And, the offside decision is a big moment.”
He concluded: “We’ve lost. It hurts and we need to get back on the training ground this week. We need to win our next match”.
A happy Bielsa, talking through an interpreter on Leeds United’s official Twitter account, admitted: “We played an ‘equal’ game against a big opponent. We attacked and defended well, where we had a ‘togetherness’. I enjoyed many moments in the match. For us, that is very important.”
Tottenham have three games left to save their season, starting at home, on Sunday, May, with the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers (2:05pm).
Leeds United: Ilier Meslier, Luke Ayling (Capt), Diego Llorente, Pascol Struijk, Ezgjan Alioski, Robert Koch, Stuart Dallas, Mateuz Klich (Kalvin Phillips 89′), Tyler Roberts (Raphina 58′), Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford (Rodrigo 78′) Subs not used: Ian Poveda-Ocampo, Kiko Casilla (GK), Pablo Hernández, Leif Davis, Gaetano Berardi, Jamie Shackleton
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (captain), Serge Aurier, Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilón, Pierre-Emile Højberg, Dele Alli (Erik Lamela 66′), Lo Celso (Tonguy Ndombele 79′), Gareth Bale (Lucas Moura 66′), Son Heung-Min Subs not used: Joe Hart (GK), Davison Sanchez, Matt Doherty, Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, Steven Bergwijn
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Chris Kavanagh
VAR: Paul Tierney