BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE
SATURDAY 21ST MARCH, 2015
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 4(2) LEICESTER CITY 3(1)
Kane, 6,13,64 (pen)
Schlupp (o.g), 85
Referee:- Mike Dean
Assistants:- S. Long & M. Wilkes
Fourth official:- D. Bond
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.) (sub Vorm, 4); Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Mason (sub Dembele, 88), Bentaleb; Townsend (sub Paulinho, 58), Eriksen, Chadli; Kane
(Armband to Vertonghen)
Subs not used:- Chiriches, Davies; Lamela; Adebayor
Booked:- Chadli (simulation), Rose (foul on James)
Leicester (5-4-1):- Schmeichel; De Laet, Morgan (Capt), Huth (sub Mahfez, 76), Upson (sub Wasilewski, 46), Schlupp; Nugent, James, Cambiasso (sub King, 86), Vardy; Ulloa
Subs not used:- Shwarzer; Konchesky; Drinkwater; Kramaric
Booked:- Nugent (foul on Rose)
There is no question regarding who was the star of this game. It was, of course, Harry Kane, who scored his first Premier League hat-trick,and the first Spurs League hat-trick since Gareth Bale on Boxing Day 2012, when we beat Aston Villa 4-0.
This was not such a convincing win though. Spurs started well, gaining a two goal lead after only 12 minutes, but they let bottom club Leicester back into the game. Despite regaining their two goal lead in the second half, hapless Spurs' defending allowed Nugent to score a late goal to make it 4-3, giving us a nervy three minutes of added time. The game might well have ended in a repeat of the last home league meeting between these two clubs, which was 4-4 in February 2004.
By scoring three goals today, Harry Kane overtook Bale's 26 goal haul in all games in that 2012-13 season. Now Kane needs three more Premier League goals to overhaul Bale's 21 goal tally of that season. Kane has 19 so far, which makes him the top Premier League scorer tonight. If only things were going so well for the team this season as they have for Harry.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly Mauricio Pochettino started with the same team as that which started, and played so badly at Old Trafford. Even the personnel on the bench had not changed.
I was also surprised that Leicester manager Nigel Pearson excluded Mahrez from his starting line-up. Mahrez had been such a threat to Spurs in the away meeting on Boxing Day. I made the Leicester formation a 5-4-1 with Schlupp playing at left wing-back, and four players including Nugent and Vardy behind Ulloa. Of course, this did allow for those players to get forward when the opportunity arose, but it was only in the second half that Pearson switched his style to one which was more attacking.
The game started in almost the worst possible fashion for Spurs in the first minute, as Leicester attacked but were flagged offside. I am sure I heard the whistle blow too, but the Leicester attacker seemed to continue and Walker was involved in a collision with Lloris as the Spurs players were uncertain whether play had been halted. Lloris went down injured, and he didn't get up either, having to be stretchered off, and replaced by Vorm, with Vertonghen taking over the captain's armband.
Spurs soon had the lead though, from a corner won by Danny Rose. Eric Dier flicked it on from the near post and Kasper Schmeichel got a touch, but Harry Kane was able to finish from close range inside the back post.
Vorm had a fright when Nugent hit a shot from distance. Vorm had to stretch to his left to save, and he was not convincing either. Spurs then took a seemingly impregnable two goal lead when Kyle Waller got to the byeline down the right channel. Walker's cross was deflected, and Kane's shot was also deflected, thus beating Schmeichel for the second time. It was looking cosy for Spurs, but that was not how things turned out.
It even looked as if Kane had got his hat-trick inside 15 minutes, when Townsend stood aside and allowed an Eriksen ball through, but Harry was flagged offside.
Nugent gave the Spurs defence a scare with a fast break down the right, but his shot passed wide across Vorm's goal. It was a warning though, not heeded by Spurs.
Good work by Danny Rose who won the ball twice in the opposition half gave Eriksen a chance. The Dane worked room for a right footed shot, which rebounded off the post. Chadli reached the rebound, but scooped his shot well over the bar, when he should have scored. Spurs should have been out of sight.
Cambiasso hit a shot wide from the left channel. Soon after this Eric Dier was down requiring treatment after a clash of heads. My impression was that Leicester were certainly not holding back. Dier recovered after treatment.
Chadli was shown a yellow card for simulation when he went down on the left side of the box, after Kane had out him through. Leicester got back on terms when Nugent again raced down that right channel, crossing for Vardy to score inside Vorm's right post.
Ulloa had a decent effort to win a corner, and at the Park Lane End Schmeichel was down well to Chadli's low cross/shot from Spurs' left flank. Danny Rose, who was surely Spurs' best back four player today made a good tackle against Nugent inside the Spurs area.
After the break, Leicester replaced Matthew Upson with another defender - Wasilewski. Schlupp remained at left back, but was noticeably getting forward more.
Leicester had already had one effort blocked, and won a corner, after Kyle Walker was left behind the play. From the corner, skipper Wes Morgan scored with a header in the middle of the Spurs goal area. Spurs had thrown away a two goal lead, and of course failed to keep a clean sheet yet again.
Andros Townsend, selected for England, but again making little headway today, was replaced by Paulinho. Chadli moved to the right, and Eriksen shifted nominally to the left, but would still be found in the middle.
Referee Mike Dean seemed to hesitate slightly, but awarded Spurs a penalty for a shove by Nugent upon Danny Rose. Harry Kane did not need prompting. He seized the ball, and confidently fired home to the right of Schmeichel.
Spurs were looking good at this stage, and appeared keen to increase their lead. Ryan Mason made a good run but was prevented from shooting, before Kane fired over, after a cross from the left.
Eric Dier started a break from the Spurs half, exchanging with Mason, before making it all the way down the left flank, crossing for Chadli, who was beyond the back post. Again, Chadli arguably should have scored, but fired over.
Pearson took off Huth for Mahrez, clearly desperate to get something out of the game. However, Spurs took what appeared to be an unassailable lead, when Paulinho made a run down the left channel, and fed a good ball to Eriksen, whose effort was goal-bound. Schemichel saved, and with the ball rolling back towards Eriksen, Schlupp had to try and clear, but he could only hit the ball into the net.
As added time approached, Dier and Vertonghen seemed undecided about a loose ball. Nugent took possession and fired home from just inside the area to make it a nervous end to the game, with Spurs fans encouraging the referee to blow for full time.
That's twice we have beaten Leicester by the odd goal his season, and three times (including the FA Cup defeat) we have failed to convince against the Premier League's bottom club.
Southampton won today, so we remain seventh, 10 points above our nearest rivals, Swansea. Of course, at the time of writing, we are also still only three points behind the top four, but we would need to play a lot better than we did today to offer any realistic challenge for that level.
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