Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Leicester City
Spurs slipped to their second Premier League defeat in a week as Leicester City eased to a two-goal success over Jose Mourinho’s off-colour side.
Looking for a response following their midweek setback at Anfield, Mourinho was aware that his charges faced a stiff challenge from the East Midlanders: “They are good, they are dangerous, they are tremendous in their counter-attack,” the Portuguese chief explained.
“It’s a very good team, a very good coach, very good players and the final product of that is a very good team that is going to give us a very difficult match.”
While Spurs were looking to reduce the gap at the top, Leicester arrived in North London knowing a victory would see them leapfrog the hosts and go into Christmas in second place.
Jamie Vardy and Heung Min Son passed up reasonable chances, while James Maddison’s effort was too high. But early exchanges suggested something of a slow-burner as the two sides largely cancelled each other out in the final third.
Leicester’s intent appeared greater, although clear-cut opportunities continued to arrive at a premium. Vardy again was snubbed out as Spurs were forced to defend deeply.
Harry Kane’s deflected free-kick had Kasper Schmeichel scampering across his goal as Spurs finally mustered the games’ first shot on target. And having waited 35 minutes for that particular milestone, Spurs should have snatched the lead soon after – Kane unable to direct his header goalwards after Son’s flag-kick had provided the England skipper with a chance.
Maddison drew a smart save from Hugo Lloris as the contest began to pick up pace. And in stoppage-time, the visitors grabbed the lead. Wesley Fofana was felled by Serge Aurier – VAR had a look – Vardy converted from the spot, sending Lloris the wrong way from twelve yards.
Mourinho threw on Gareth Bale after the break in a bid to liven his side from their slumber. However, his side received a swift let-off. This time, VAR came to their aid in ruling Maddison off-side after he’d raced onto James Justin’s pass and fired low beyond Lloris, believing he’d doubled the Foxes advantage.
But this was far from vintage Tottenham. They fell further behind shortly before the hour – Vardy’s headed attempt rebounding into the net off the unfortunate Toby Alderweireld – It was no more than Leicester deserved.
Madison clipped over after Vardy teed him up – the dominant Foxes unprepared to rest on their laurels. Nevertheless, they were debted to Schmeichel, who produced a wonderful one-handed save to deny Son from close range, keeping the North Londoners at arm’s length in the process.
Tottenham’s toil was ineffective and inaccurate. A far cry from the form we’ve seen carrying them towards the Premier League’s summit. Sergio Reguilón fired tamely at Schmeichel, while Vardy offered more of a test to Lloris, rather summing up the state of affairs.
Youri Tielemans missed a glorious chance to add gloss to the scoreline – sending his effort high over after Vardy had picked Eric Dier’s pocket and fashioned an opening. Tottenham will no doubt put this one down to a bad day at the office. But this past week has confirmed Mourinho’s earlier predictions that his side is a ‘small pony’ in the title race.
Tottenham Hotspur now turn their attention to the Carabao Cup where they will face Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium on Thursday, December 23 (7:45pm).
Tottenham Hotspur: Hugo Lloris (Capt), Serge Aurier (Harry Winks 64’), Toby Alderweireld, Eric Dier, Sergio Reguilón, Moussa Sissoko, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Giovani Lo Celso (Lucas Moura 49’), Tanguy Ndombele (Gareth Bale 46’), Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son Subs not used: Matt Doherty, Joe Hart (GK), Joe Rodon, Steven Bergwijn, Ben Davies, Carlos Vinicius
Booked: Eric Dier (foul), Harry Winks (foul)
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Timothy Castagne (Daniel Amartey 60’), Wesley Fofana, Jonny Evans, James Justin, Wilfred Ndidi, Marc Albrighton, Youri Tielemans, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes (Dennis Praet 84’), Jamie Vardy (Kelechi Iheanacho 88’) Subs not used: Danny Ward (GK), Ayoze Pérez, Cengiz Ünder, Nampalys Mendy, Christian Fuchs, Luke Thomas
Booked: Marc Albrighton (foul), Wilfred Ndidi (foul)
Goals: Jamie Vardy (penalty) 45+1’, Toby Alderweireld (own-goal) 60’
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: Simon Bennett and Eddie Smart
Fourth Official: David Coote
VAR: Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard