SATURDAY 8TH MAY, 2021
LEEDS UNITED 3(2) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(1)
Referee:- Michael Oliver
Assistants:- Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official:- Chris Kavanagh
VAR:- Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR:- Neil Davies.
Leeds (4-1-4-1):- Meslier; Ayling (Capt.), Llorente, Struijk, Alioski; Koch; Dallas, Roberts (sub Raphinha, 58), Klich (sub Phillips, 90), Harrison; Bamford (sub Rodrigo, 79)
Subs not used:- Casilla; Davis, Berardi; Shackleton, Hernandez; Poveda
Booked:- Koch (foul on Son)
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Aurier, Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon; Hojbjerg, Lo Celso (sub Ndombele, 80); Bale (sub Lucas Moura, 67), Dele (sub Lamela, 67), Son; Kane
Subs not used:- Hart; Doherty, Sanchez; Winks, Sissoko, Bergwijn
Booked:- Reguilon (foul on Raphinha), Lucas Moura (foul on Alioski)
Just as one door opened, another was shut.
Just as one door opened when Leicester lost at home last night to Newcastle, giving Spurs a little hope of qualifying for the Champions League, so an athletic and skilful Leeds United side slammed that door shut in the face of a lacklustre Spurs side, who were always second best at Elland Road. Captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is the only one of our team who can hold his head high, as he made several excellent and much-needed saves to keep us in the game until substitute Rodrigo's 84th minute goal sealed a deserved win for Leeds. Hugo was even needed in added time to prevent an even more convincing defeat.
The game was played with persistent rain throughout. The Elland Road pitch (bought from Tottenham earlier this year) has been awkward throughout and today was heavy, preventing the ball rolling as smoothly as Spurs would have liked. Leeds were better prepared for the pitch. They were fitter than Spurs, with excellent movement by players on and off the ball.
Both teams were unchanged, but Leeds did have Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha on the bench. Ryan Mason clearly felt he could not leave last week’s hat-trick hero Gareth Bale out of the team but he was unable to match the fitness of his opponents which too often left Aurier unprotected at the back. Lo Celso is not a defensive midfielder and Spurs struggled to hold their opponents advances.
There was a Llorente on the pitch (in the Leeds defence) and Spurs wore their green away strip, but there to be no heroics such as we experienced two years ago today in Amsterdam. Lucas Moura came off the bench, but none of the subs were effective. Spurs have fallen a long way since reaching the 2019 Champions League Final.
Leeds kicked off and played towards Elland Road. The first few minutes were played predominantly in the middle of the park. Spurs won the first corner of the game after four minutes when Kan crossed for Son from the right but Llorente headed the ball out. Nothing came of the corner. Hugo Lloris had his first save to make two minutes later after Alioski fed the ball out to Harrison who crossed for Bamford, whose left footed shot was saved. Leeds had two corners and following the second Harrison crossed from the right but Struijk headed over. Leeds were moving the ball around well, and unlike Spurs, seemed to have the measure of their pitch and the run of the ball. Roberts had a shot half-blocked and held by Lloris.
It was no surprise when Leeds took the lead in the 13th minute. Harrison got the bye-line on the left, crossing hard and low. Dier – making his 200th Premier League appearance – should have cleared The ball reached Reguilon would have scored an own goal had Hugo not made an excellent save, but the ball fell to Dallas who fired into the roof of the net.
Spurs won a corner two minutes later, taken by Son and flicked on by Bale with Meslier saving whilst under threat from Dele Alli. Dele had a shot blocked after a short pass by Son. This move had been started by Kane. Spurs equalised in the 25th minute and it was thanks to good work by Dele in the middle, delaying then picking out Son with his well-placed ball to the right of the area. “Sonny” scored with his right foot to the left of the keeper.
Leeds nearly regained the lead almost immediately when Klich found Harrison, whose right foot shot was tipped over by Hugo, making a flying save. Spurs were struggling to clear their lines following the corner with Hugo strangely punching rather than holding a ball he could surely have caught. Koch had a shot deflected over for another corner.
Spurs thought they had scored after half an hour, but would be denied by one of those very marginal offside decisions after VAR got involved. Son and Dele had combined before Dele’s final pass to Kane who fired into the net. The offside flag was then raised and eventually supported by the dreaded VAR.
There was danger in the Spurs area when Dallas crossed from the right and Aurier somehow managed to clear but a corner did follow. A little later, after more fast passing play Harrison passed to Alioski who crossed with Bamford firing home from close range.
Spurs kicked off the second half and within three minutes Lo Celso (now getting further forward) passed to Kane who was definitely in an offside position but put the ball in the net after an initial save by Meslier. This offside decision was quickly confirmed. Koch got Leeds’ one booking of the game as he blocked Son’s attempt to break forward. At the other end Tyler Roberts fired wide.
Spurs moved forward after 54 minutes with Dele and Harry combining. Harry put his right-footed shot just wide. Lo Celso gave Son a nice chance towards the left of the area, but “Sonny” hit the side netting when he should at least have hit the target.
Raphinha was the first of the substitutes, replacing Roberts. Son had another shot on goal, after a good ball by Kane, but after he teed up the shot, it was blocked. Reguilon blocked off a run by Raphinha and was booked. Hugo had to fly and get a left hand to Klich’s right foot shot, conceding a corner.
Ryan Mason then took off Dele and Bale for Lamela and Lucas Moura. Neither proved to be any more effective than those they replaced had been after the interval. Lucas tried some runs but soon got into trouble himself when he flapped his arm at Alioski, who he felt had fouled him initially.
Harry Kane pushed a ball out to Aurier, who got past Alioski well before hitting what turned out to be a good shot, saved well by Meslier. After the corner and a foul on Reguilon outside the box on the left, Harry Kane took the free kick which hit the top of the bar as it passed out of play. Toby Alderweireld made a good block at the other end from a shot by Klich following yet another speedy Leeds attack. It wasn’t long before the home side were at it again with Klich and Bamford combining before Harrison fired over.
There were 76 minutes on the clock and after passes from centre to left by Lo Celso and Kane, Lamela hit a shot on target, but Meslier saved. Now Bamford was replaced by Rodrigo, whilst Lo Celso was replaced by Ndombele, who played next to no part in the remining proceedings.
Leeds were threatening again. Klich hit a right foot shot just over the target after a pass from Dallas, but in the 84th minute Raphinha was in space on the left and raced forward finding Rodrigo – also unmarked – who scored with a left foot shot. The VAR review regarding Raphinha’s position did not take long, and apparently he was onside.
Spurs had no answer and in added time Hugo made another dive to his left to prevent Dallas from scoring. Leeds now have 50 points, just six behind Spurs. The door to Champions League football is surely closed now. On this form, we will struggle to secure one of the other European places on offer. I’d rather not qualify at all than to finish seventh and go into the new third tier European Conference League.
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